Can the Bucs topple another unbeaten host?
Much as I hate to sound like I’m endorsing him (because it’ll make my wife think I want to drive her to Nashville to see him while I’m nursing a torn quad tendon again), five words, from a ditty by country singer Eric Church, keep bouncing through my head when I think of last week, and this week, in Bayside Conference football. “I’m havin’ a record year.” At 10-0 and with a DivisionI-college-committed player on each side of the ball, North Caroline High was, until last week, when Kent Island came to town.
The next thing ya know, while I’m watching Havre de Grace, up by seven touchdowns, still passing the ball against Colonel Richardson in the Class 1A playoffs, the 2A Buccaneers laid a 3329 defeat on an unbeaten, top-seeded team which was thinking of playing in Annapolis in December.
As a matter of fact, Friday, for the Bayside, was a worstcase playoff scenario. Only the bare minimum number of teams which could advance, in fact, did; heck, that even included two playoff volleyball losses.
On the much warmer indoor court, North Dorchester went to Perryville and lost in the 1A East final. Queen Anne’s County, in the 2A East, went to nearby Rising Run and also lost. So that’s two.
In football, on a night when the kickoff temperature was 30 degrees, the coldest it’s been all season by far, 3A James M. Bennett lost its opening-round home playof f game to Atholton. In the 1As, Cambridge-South Dorchester lost at Bohemia Manor, and Colonel fell at Havre de Grace.
Only the winner of the 2A Kent Island-North Caroline regional semifinal would advance, and as it turned out, it wasn’t the 10-0, ranked-19th-in-thestate hosts.
Maybe the mutterings around the proverbial campfires in Bulldog Nation, that the players were so used to running the clock on people it might cost them in terms of endurance, were true. Maybe not.
Maybe it wasn’t about North Caroline’s failings, but rather, about Kent Island’s successes. Trent Jackson, as I warned everyone last week, was a dangerous passer. The offense is strong, and the defense bent but didn’t break.
(Granted, I didn’t even heed my own warning, and I picked North Caroline, so there’s that.)
Kent Island’s 48-0 defeat of Queen Anne’s in Week 10, which put them in the playoffs, should’ve been a signal that something had changed.
And it had. So, congratulations to the Buccaneers for making the regional final.
Now, it’s time for Kent Island to try to repeat a little history.
Four years ago, the Buccaneers had to go to Harford County. Four years ago, they had to face an unbeaten team on its home field. Four years ago, they were the underdog.
And four years ago, they won, topping 11-0 Fallston, 28-12. The Cougars had never posted an unbeaten season until then, and in the previous week, they held off an upset-minded Easton in a game I saw, 21-19, not taking the lead until the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers made the state semifinals with that 2013 win at Fallston, which featured Evan Greenwood running the ball on all 53 offensive plays. That, to my knowledge, is still a state record.
It isn’t the only one set, though the other one is unofficial. Were there a second category, called Fewest Playbook Pages Used By Team In Single Playoff Game, it would read simply, (1, Kent Island, 2013). But hey, it worked! Now, however, Greenwood is gone, and the task remains: head to Harford County... and see if you can stop Tech this time instead of Fallston.
The Cobras are having a record year too; in searching for information online, I saw an article in another paper from late September which discussed how they had gone 4-0 for the first time ever. So, obviously, the program has bested its own record for seven straight weeks since then.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Hunt, who passed for two scores, and speedy tailback Jalen Dangerfield, who ran for almost 12 yards a touch Friday night (he had 11 carries for 131 yards) as the Cobras beat Elkton 35-0, are dangerous.
And then there’s Jordan Bright.
Not only is he the team’s place kicker, Bright had two picks on defense; one of them set up a 19-yard touchdown pass from Hunt to... Bright.
The kid’s everywhere. So Kent Island has to look out for that.
Tech, for its part, has to beware a Kent Island backfield which features Dylan Finlay, who scored twice Friday, along with Jackson, who reminds me a lot of Donovan McNabb, and is even an inch or two taller.
Jackson also accomplished a feat Friday that’s rare in the Bayside: he not only hit three receivers three or more times each, he threw for 220 yards; J. C. Getz, who caught the gamewinning pass, had 102 yards receiving.
Both of these numbers are unicorn-rare in the Bayside Conference... and, as I’ve been screaming for years, passing teams do better in the playoffs.
This year’s definitely a prime example. Hint, hint...
Friday night is shaping up, the more I think about it, to be a great, great game. If you can make it, please, go. If you can’t, follow our staff on Twitter; we’ve been there all year and certainly won’t be stopping until nobody’s left from the Mid-Shore. Friday’s Games 2A East Final (4) Kent Is. (9-2) at (2) Harford Tech (11-0)
I’m not known for picking many upsets. And it could go the other way, quite easily. But here ya go. (Radio: 94.3 WINX-FM, pregame 6:45 p.m.) — Buccaneers, 21-19. Last Week: 2-3. Season: 64-12 (.842). Career: 916-189 (.829). Follow me on Twitter: @ SDBaysideSports.
Refreshments & free give-a-ways for the children