Real quick. Raise your hand if you saw the 49-7 win by North Caroline over Easton coming last week.
The Warriors were the highest-scoring team in the Bayside Conference (143 points scored) going into the Friday night homecoming bonanza against the Bulldogs, and Easton’s defense hadn’t been shabby either (55 points allowed), good for third in the area.
But North Caroline just about opened up the door for the bottom of the Class 2A East Region to make a legitimate run at the playoffs by dropping the Warriors to 3-2. Suddenly, Easton (26) has plummeted to seventh place in the playoff points race, with North Harford (24), North East-Cecil (20), Queen Anne’s County (14), and even Wicomico (14) all within a week or two worth of points or one game back in the standings.
Okay, maybe not Wi-Hi, but I digress.
Easton hung around for a bit against the Bulldogs — who following the shellacking cracked the top-25 list on the mdprepfootball.com Maryland High School Football Media State Poll (Bravo!) — but North Caroline scored the final 35 points after the Warriors pulled within 14-7.
Is the middle decidedly middling in the Bayside Conference? Is the top of the standings unequivocally the best teams on the Eastern Shore? After five full weeks of action, it sure seems that way.
Currently there are four teams sporting records of 4-1 or better: Parkside, Kent Island, Cambridge-South Dorchester, and, of course, 5-0 North Caroline. The competition loses some heat in that middle, where there are six teams with 3-2 or 2-3 marks, and though all six have playoff aspirations, the battle of attrition could thin out a few of them over the next four weeks of the regular season.
One program scratching and clawing (first, themselves, verbally, and then the opponents, maybe) is Queen Anne’s. I was clued in by members of the team and head coach Donny Graef about some dissension among the players while being manhandled by Parkside in Week 4 (a 49-18 loss), but the festive atmosphere of homecoming (not to mention an eminently beatable opponent in Kent County) softened some of the hard feelings and produced a solid victory.
The Lions’ reward for this perhaps-temporary re-grouping? A trip to Ridgely to face the Bulldogs. North Caroline has won four of the last five head to head, including two in a row in 2017 and 2018 by a combined 96-13 (Holy Mother ...). Good luck, Queen Anne’s County.
Other happenings worthy of note, Kent Island seems to have rebounded nicely from a Week 2 loss to Easton, and is now steamrolling toward another winning season after a 5-5 showing in 2018. Wicomico stands in the Buccaneers’ way Saturday during Kent Island’s homecoming (should be a win), Parkside looms next after a short week (50-50 chance of a Kent Island ‘W’), before an Oct. 25 meeting with the Bulldogs (TBD).
Cambridge-SD keeps rolling along in the Class 1A East, and as of this writing sits atop the region, just ahead of Patterson Mill. Colonel Richardson and Kent County remain in the mix among the first eight, while the bottom of the 1A East is just that, the bottom, with four wins between the five programs.
A 7-1 run in Week 5 had your somewhat-clueless picks specialist reach 30 career wins, and I will also be counting wins from here on out: can I get to 50 across these final four weeks of the regular season? Stay tuned.
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Game of the Week
Easton (3-2) at Parkside (4-1)
The Warriors sorely need a bounce-back win, and to fight back into the top four of the region. The Rams occupy the fourth seed at this time, and have the second best defense in the Bayside outside of North Caroline. Back-to-back losses have me losing faith in Easton’s ability to eke out a home date in the playoffs.
— Parkside, 28-17
James M. Bennett (2-3) at Stephen Decatur (1-4)
Two teams spinning their wheels as the season hits crunch time. Bennett has been the better squad, and the Seahawks, well, the drop to 2A has meant little because they still play most of the same teams in the area.
— Clippers, 35-10
Colonel Richardson (3-2) at Kent County (2-3)
The Colonels will earn some points to remain in the hunt for a home playoff game. The Trojans would have to really unravel to fall out of postseason contention in the mostly punchless region.
— Colonel, 42-14
Cambridge-SD (4-1) at Washington (0-4)
This one should be a wrap by halftime, maybe end of the first quarter.
— Vikings, 59-6
Snow Hill (1-4) at Nandua (3-3)
No more picking for Snow Hill or Washington, no matter what coin flips and random numbers say.
— Nandua, 33-6
Queen Anne’s (2-3) at North Caroline (5-0)
The Lions have some momentum, Caroline has a half-plus season’s worth of momentum, and it won’t end here.
— Bulldogs, 42-14
Wicomico (2-3) at Kent Island (4-1)
This used to be the premier, non-QA’s-KI rivalry on the Shore. Those days are gone, long gone. Should be a treat for the homecoming flock.
— Kent Island, 38-13
Last Week: 7-1
Season to Date: 30-9