Clippers visit Bulldogs in Week 8’s big game
Now that fall has made its appearance (our electric bill for September was higher than July’s, so I’m glad for that!), it’s time to make some real guesses as to who’ll be appearing in the playoffs in high school football.
In the Class 3A bracket, James M. Bennett looks to be on the fast track for the postseason. But unlike last year, when 7-3 was good enough for a top seed in the 3A East, this year’s Clippers will probably go in as a No. 4, which would mean they’d play on the road as long as they’re still alive.
The 2As are led again this year by North Caroline (7-0), which hosts Bennett (6-1) on Thursday in what must be our Bayside Conference Game of the Week. The Bulldogs will lock down a postseason berth with a win, and from there, the last two weeks will determine if they play at home or on the road. Projections by people wiser than myself claim North Caroline will run the table, but that’s easier said than done, with Bennett, Kent Island (4-3), and Colonel Richardson (4-3) left on the schedule.
Parkside (5-2) looks to be a playoff team as well in the 2As, and early guesses have the Rams playing in the first round at North Caroline. The Bulldogs routed Parkside, 20-0, in Salisbury in Week 2, and it could’ve been even more lopsided but for a turnover on downs and two fumbles lost by North Caroline in Ram territory.
The playoffs are a funny thing, though. Just ask Kent County’s 2016 team.
Saddled with a 20-year losing streak against Cambridge-South Dorchester, and having lost to it earlier in that season, the Trojans made the 90-minute drive to Cambridge and came out winners in the 1A East title game, ending the streak and making history.
Can Parkside capture that same magic in the postseason? Well, if the Rams get there, we’ll see.
In the 1A bracket, C-SD looks to be the Bayside team to beat, with Colonel on an inside track for its second straight postseason appearance. This is big because, until last November, Colonel had only made the playoffs once in football in the 50-plus-year history of the school, a shutout loss to Snow Hill in 2004.
As the math looks right now, Colonel would be a third-seed and visit No. 2 C-SD in the first round, Nov. 9. Colonel gave the Vikings a fit in Week 4, but lost by one score. Dressing just 18 players last week in a 40-0 win at Nandua, Va., Colonel is playing pretty good football right now.
In my 17 seasons of high school football, I’d never seen a team make three straight two-point conversions after a touchdown. Colonel went 5 for 5 last Saturday afternoon, and played lockdown defense. They’ll need to do the same thing again this week, as they drive half an hour or so further south to Eastville, Va., to play Northampton.
Colonel blew the Yellow Jackets out last year, but “we were a better team, I think, last year than this year,” Colonel head coach Dan Mangum said.
Maybe, maybe not. The Colonels shut Nandua out in 2017, 450, then beat Northampton 43-0. But both of those games were at Colonel, and Northampton boasts almost as many seniors on its team this year (17) as Colonel will dress Friday (19, give or take one).
On the playoff bubble is Wicomico. Getting thumped 35-8 on opening night, the Indians have made a remarkable turnaround, and I think head coach Brian Hanson deserves consideration for the conference’s Coach of the Year. But I don’t vote for conferencewide honors; the coaches do that (hint, hint).
The Indians still have Queen Anne’s, Easton, and Bennett left on their schedule. They’re capable of winning all three games, which would give them, as it stands right now, 41 playoff points and throw them into a third-seeded position (at Harford Tech, the way the numbers look right now, in the first round).
But again, that is easier said than accomplished. The Indians are largely in control of their own destiny, and a playoff appearance — the program’s first in six seasons — would ice the cake for them this year, especially after losing their first game by four touchdowns.
Kent Island and Kent County still have playoff chances that aren’t unrealistic, but beyond that, it’s a doomsday scenario for anyone left in the Bayside. The chance to play spoiler, or to knock a team out of a first-round home game, is still there for several teams (I’m looking at you, Kent Island in Week 9 against North Caroline, and Easton against C-SD for Week 10!).
The week begins with two Thursday games. This is due largely to the timing of annual state teacher’s convention, which can’t be held over the summer when nobody’s going to miss school, because that would make too much sense.
Enjoy Week 8. It’s time for playoff teams mean it.
Thursday’s Games Game of the Week James M. Bennett (6-1) at North Caroline (7-0)
Will the Clippers’ explosive potential be enough to outlast the grind-you-down North Caroline team, which has been developing a new, not-so-secret weapon named J.B. Brown?
— Bulldogs, 21-14.
Decatur (2-5) at Parkside (5-2)
Parkside’s got a very formidable line on both sides of the ball, and the Seahawks have struggled offensively of late.
— Rams, 35-7.
Kent Island (4-3) at Easton (3-4)
Easton hasn’t beaten the Buccaneers since Oct. 13, 2006 — 4,389 days ago as of Friday night. But the gnomes in my basement say... — Warriors, 21-20.
Kent County (2-5) at Cambridge-SD (4-3)
A Trojan win here could flip-flop the Vikings with Colonel in the
they first playoff round. But be a tall order.
— Vikings, 35-23.
Col. Richardson (4-3) at Northampton, Va. (6-1) Colonel’s banged up, playing with their backup quarterback more than two hours from home, and facing a team with twice as many guys on the roster, with a better record. But that’s on paper. — Colonels, 27-23.
Wicomico (5-2) at Queen Anne’s (3-4)
If the Lions lose, they’ll have their first non-winning season since going 2-8 15 years ago.
— Indians, 27-20.
Snow Hill (0-7) at Washington (0-7)
This game got moved back due to the previous week’s Jaguars game being postponed by the arrival of remnants of Hurricane Michael on Oct. 11.
— Jaguars, 38-30.
Week 7: 8-0.
Season: 44-6 (.880).
Career: 962-195 (.831).