Week 2 sees big tests for Bucs, Bull­dogs, Vik­ings and War­riors

Record Observer - - Sports -

We had quite an in­ter­est­ing open­ing week of foot­ball in the Bay­side Con­fer­ence.

The top teams all won. A team from near the bot­tom last year came a play away from pulling off an amaz­ing up­set in a high-scor­ing track meet of a game in Eas­ton. And one of the old­est ri­val­ries in the state, pit­ting Wi­comico High against a team from Cam­bridge, was re­newed.

Let’s start with that North Car­o­line-Eas­ton game, be­cause a lot of peo­ple, my­self in­cluded, ei­ther un­der­es­ti­mated the War­riors, or over­es­ti­mated the Bull­dogs.

I think it’s the for­mer rather than the lat­ter, re­ally. North Car­o­line can beat you up the mid­dle, around end, or even deep on oc­ca­sion.

Eas­ton, on the other hand, was re­port­edly re­build­ing and hop­ing to be vi­able after a 2-8 sea­son in 2015.

Open­ing night proved the word “re­build­ing” should be re­placed with “re­built.” Scor­ing seven touch­downs against a team that al­lowed four or more in a game only once last year means, in no un­cer­tain terms, you’re back.

Now, let’s dis­cuss Eas­ton head coach Matt Grif­fith’s gutsy de­ci­sion to go for two at the end of the game.

After scor­ing a touch­down to pull within 49-48 with un­der 30 sec­onds re­main­ing, Grif­fith had the choice of send­ing in Emma Skoglund to kick a point-after and po­ten­tially force over­time, or go­ing for a two.

Skoglund, 4-for-4 kicking PATs in her var­sity de­but Fri­day, was the safe choice.

In­stead, Grif­fith chose to try a two-point con­ver­sion, in the form of a pass. It failed, and Eas­ton lost.

I don’t fault Grif­fith one sin­gle iota. While kicking the PAT would’ve shown he had con­fi­dence in

Skoglund, Grif­fith’s de­ci­sion to go for two showed he had con­fi­dence in the en­tire team. (Skoglund, by the way, be­came the first fe­male player I can find record of in North Bay­side his­tory to score in var­sity foot­ball, so con­grats on that, young lady!)

If Grif­fith didn’t have con­fi­dence in his place kicker, she wouldn’t be on the team in the first place, so con­sider that, too.

In 2011, an­other coach faced a sim­i­lar choice with far more on the line. In that year’s Class 4A state cham­pi­onship against Quince Or­chard, Old Mill head coach Chad McCormick trailed 35-28 in over­time. His team scored a touch­down, and he went for two with his team down 35-34.

Old Mill suc­ceeded on the con­ver­sion — and won the cham­pi­onship, 36-35. McCormick did it be­cause, as his pre­de­ces­sor, Damian Fer­rag­amo, put it, “he told me, ‘it was the only time in the game I knew we could win the game if our play worked.’”

This de­ci­sion is very anal­o­gous to Fri­day night’s bat­tle at War­rior Sta­dium. Granted, there was a kick­off after Eas­ton’s touch­down and, had they trailed 50-49 at that point, the Bull­dogs might have had the chance to run two or three plays. But, hey, you play to win some­times in­stead of play­ing to keep from los­ing.

As Fer­rag­amo, now head coach at Kent Is­land, said, “Hey, I’d have done the same thing. I sup­port Matt 110 per­cent on that . ... You fig­ure, look at the score, and you see no­body’s stop­ping any­body, you might as well go for it.”

It didn’t work this time. But hey, these teams might meet again in the play­offs. Who knows? Ei­ther way, it was a great call, and one, I can say, I might not have been bold enough to make. So, I tip my prover­bial hat to Grif­fith on that one.

Things don’t get any eas­ier for Eas­ton or the Bull­dogs this week.

Eas­ton vis­its Park­side in a game that might de­ter­mine the play­off fates of both teams. I say this be­cause if the War­riors win, it proves they’re able to con­tend up and down the con­fer­ence. After all, if they win, in this sce­nario, they will have taken the Bay­side Con­fer­ence’s top team to the mat one week, and then beaten a team with a solid record last year, on the road, the fol­low­ing week.

If Park­side wins, the Rams could be poised to im­prove on last year’s 6-4 mark which al­most was enough for the post­sea­son.

North Car­o­line plays its home opener Fri­day against Cam­bridge-South Dorch­ester in a con­test be­tween teams who scored a com­bined 110 points last Fri­day night. De­fenses on both sides need to step up, be­cause both teams have blind­ing speed and depth at the skill po­si­tions.

Real­is­ti­cally, the Vik­ingsBull­dogs con­test could end in one of hun­dreds of ways. Last year’s 20-14 game was the same way.

In dis­cussing these, and the other games in Week 2, the gnomes in my base­ment came to a pre­dic­tion in one game, at least, that sur­prises me a lit­tle. I won’t delve too deeply into the cir­cum­stances or process be­hind the pre­dic­tion in ques­tion, but if you want more de­tail, check out my Twit­ter feed.

They tend to get one game wrong per week any­way, so take what­ever they say with a grain of salt. After all, how smart is pot­tery?

The rest of Week 2 has a cou­ple games that could turn heads as well. Can James M. Ben­nett, which won its opener against Wash­ing­ton de­spite giv­ing up more than 400 yards of of­fense, give Queen Anne’s County a bat­tle? Can Kent Is­land, which beat Elk­ton dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son last year, avenge Elk­ton’s play­of­fopen­ing ri­poste nine weeks later?

Will Snow Hill, which dressed 17 play­ers last week against Park­side, and Colonel Richardson play in a barn-burner, a tight, low-scor­ing game, or a blowout? Colonel has around two dozen kids, so depth is a con­cern for both sides.

Stephen De­catur, which lost 20-14 at Bo­hemia Manor, hosts Wi­comico, which showed speed, and a quar­ter­back in Ja­son Pat­ter­son who can run the triple op­tion ad­mirably. The Sea­hawks, who lost per­haps their two best play­ers to re­cruit­ment, and then their head coach of 33 years to a fam­ily health cri­sis, in the off­sea­son, must try to stop the In­di­ans.

Here comes Week 2. Get out and see a game. And lis­ten to the gnomes and me on 94.3 WINX-FM on Fri­day morn­ing, some­time be­tween 6 and 9 a.m., as we dis­cuss Week 2’s sched­ule.

Fri­day’s Games Game of the Week Cam­bridge-SD (1-0) at N. Car­o­line (1-0) The gnomes ar­gued all night, dam­ag­ing our sump pump in the process, over this game. They’ve been is­sued buck­ets and Kevlar vests as a re­sult. (Ra­dio: WCEM-AM 1240, pregame 6:15 p.m.; and 94.3 WINXFM; pregame 6:15 p.m.)

— Vik­ings, 24-22. Eas­ton (0-1) at Park­side (1-0) This is a state­ment game for the win­ner and should be a good watch.

— War­riors, 34-32. J.M. Ben­nett (1-0) at Queen Anne’s (1-0) Clip­pers head coach Glenn Gib­son last beat the Lions in their own sta­dium in 2003. If it’s close, Ben­nett’s kicker, Steve Os­car, might make a dif­fer­ence, but the Lions are good, guys. Re­ally good.

— Lions, 45-20. Col. Richardson (0-1) at Snow Hill (0-1) This would be a mar­quee base­ball matchup most years. In foot­ball, both are try­ing to hang tough with small teams, even for Class 1A. — Colonels, 35-12. Elk­ton (1-0) at Kent Is­land (1-0) The lit­tle guys went with the vis­i­tor in this one, us­ing some weird cal­cu­lus to ex­plain why home field wasn’t worth three points in this case. They get one game wrong each week on av­er­age, too, so hey... — Golden Elks, 21-20. Wi­comico (0-1) at De­catur (0-1)

Wi-Hi has speed and just enough depth at the skill po­si­tions to give a lot of teams fits. De­catur needs to win this or morale and sea­son-long hopes might be re­ally low.

— In­di­ans, 41-24. Wash­ing­ton (0-1) at Kent Co. (0-1) With­out the ser­vices of se­nior Mar­c­quan Greene, ejected in the fourth quar­ter last week, the Tro­jans may be tested by the Jaguars for the first time since, pos­si­bly, 2003.

—Tro­jans, 34-28. Week 1: 6-1. Ca­reer: 793-167 (.826). Fol­low me on Twit­ter:

@Davetalkss­ports.

DAVID INSLEY

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