And just like that, it’s Week 9.
We’ve been talking about this all season, that final dress rehearsal before things get real, when, for the first time, eight total teams from each region will get a chance to advance, double years past.
So, who’s in?
On the Class 1A East side of things, Cambridge-South Dorchester has locked up the top seed on the strength of a 7-1 record and 57.1 points, well ahead of Patterson Mill (5-3, 44) and no one else in the region is even within earshot. Among the rest of the Bayside Conference schools, Colonel Richardson (No. 3, 5-3, 36.1) is still clinging to a desirable seed, but the Colonels are also in.
Kent County (No. 5, 4-4, 30.1) is the only other school currently locked into a position for the region playoffs, but a Washington win against Arcadia (Va.) — not likely, by the way — will also make things very interesting at the bottom.
The Vikings have stood head and shoulders above the pack really all season, but in the one-and-done environment of the postseason, strange things happen. Still, C-SD has the inside track in the 1A East, but who will join the Vikes in the expanded state tournament is still mostly a crapshoot.
Things are very unsettled in the 2A East.
Harford Tech (first, 8-0, 82) can grab the top seed with a win over Elkton (second, 8-0, 77) tonight, but the Golden Elks can also vault over Harford Tech if they prevail (They probably will, more on that later).
The sides have not played each other in the bizarro world of the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference, which has two separate divisions, with many schools going out-of-immediate-area for games, even within the same classification. That’s fine, the playoffs tend to reveal deficiencies very quickly, and there is nowhere to hide.
North Caroline (third, 8-0, 76.1) will vault into second by beating county rival Colonel, while Parkside will likely stay put (the Rams play 1A Kent County) at third place with a 7-1 mark and 68 points.
Easton is currently in sixth (5-3, 48), but draws a very tough assignment in Cambridge-SD, and Kent Island (5-3, 44) North East-Cecil (5-3, 42), bring up the rear. None of that is settled yet, and won’t be until Week 9 points are announced, and Week 9 games are played. The bottom of the 2A East are eliminated, so we at least have that.
James M. Bennett (seventh, 3-5, 27), the Bayside’s lone 3A school, is in with a win over Wicomico, and the Clippers have a legitimate chance to steal a first-round region game, if they get in.
Week 9, folks. Two thousand and nineteen Bayside Conference football regular season, we hardly knew ye.
* * *
Game of the Week
at Easton (5-3)
The Warriors have a lot more to play for than C-SD, but I doubt the visitors will simply be going through the motions in what should be a packed house. I’m going to be wrong here no matter who I pick, but let’s go with the hosts with the most to lose.
— Warriors, 38-35
at Arcadia (4-4)
The Firebirds are skidding into the playoffs. The undermanned Jaguars have been skidding most of the season.
— Arcadia, 35-14
J.M. Bennett (3-5)
at Wicomico (3-5)
The Clippers have been super-inconsistent in 2019, but not as much as the Indians, who were pegged as the most athletic team on the Eastern Shore by several coaches before the games began counting. This one could be a toss-up, and that’s the only way the Salisbury city rivals will have it.
— Clippers, 27-16
Stephen Decatur (2-6)
at Snow Hill (1-7)
The two Worcester County schools are limping to the finish line, but the Seahawks have the numbers, and that is often enough this deep into a campaign.
— Decatur, 42-6
Colonel Richardson (5-3)
at North Caroline (8-0)
This one is going to be all Caroline, which has one of the best defenses in the area in years and is riding high after a riveting Week 8 victory over Kent Island. Running-clock alert.
— Bulldogs, 49-6
at Kent County (4-4)
The Trojans may be better served taking it easy since they are off to the playoffs no matter what. The Rams have the same stakes, and should take an eight-game win streak into the region rounds.
— Parkside, 45-13
Kent Island (5-3)
at Queen Anne’s (2-6)
The Bucs are going to be revved up after losing a close one to the Bulldogs last week (could have easily gone the other way). The postseason beckons for Kent Island.
— Buccaneers, 38-7
Harford Tech (8-0)
at Elkton (8-0)
Don’t let the records fool you. Harford Tech has outscored opponents 242-124 (about 30-15). Elkton, though, has been ridiculous, and has a 365-75 point differential (41ish-10ish). The Elks will win, Cobras will drop to third, and Caroline will vault to second.
— Elkton, 34-23
Last Week: 7-0
Season to Date: 46-13