It's going to be a very interesting weekend in high school football especially in the Class 4A Region IV race where the county's only shot at a playoff berth exists. And little old Class 2A Northeast at 1-6 could play a key role going down the stretch.
Also, St. Mary's Saints will put their unbeaten (8-0) mark on the line at Class 3A South River (4-3) Friday night.
Old Mill (6-1) paces 4A Region IV in playoff points and average at 60 and 8.57 with Glen Burnie (6-1) a close second at 56 and 8.00. Severna Park (4-2) is third with 42 points and a 7.00 average despite North County's 44 points. Playing primarily other teams from 4A schedule, the Knights' average is only 6.29.
North County's 31-12 loss at Damascus in Montgomery County Friday night all but ended their playoff hopes. The Knights (5-2) simply won't have enough playoff points by winning their three remaining games.
To briefly explain the playoff points system to those of you who may not know, there are four classifications playing under the auspices of the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) -- 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A.
A win over the larger 4A schools is worth 8 playoff points, 3A (7), 2A (6) and 1A (5). In addition, unlike all other state sports, in football, bonus points are awarded to compensate for difficulty of schedule. Teams are awarded bonus points for every win that a team they defeat gets.
Currently, Old Mill has the most bonus points at 13 followed by Glen Burnie's 11, and Severna Park with 10. Old Mill also has the highest point total before bonus points are added with 47 with Glen Burnie at 45 and Severna Park coming in with 32.
With its hard-earned 20-14 win over Meade on Friday night, Old Mill notched its 5th win out of six (other was 3A South River) over a Class 4A school. Glen Burnie has four wins over 4A schools plus a 3A in South River and a 2A in Northeast (1-6) and that's where the latter Eagles come into the picture.
Northeast could be the one that costs the Gophers dearly in both basic and bonus points if they end up tied for the Region IV lead. That's unless Bart Rader's Eagles get hot in their final three games -- at North County (5-2) and Southern (4-3), and home vs. Chesapeake (0-7).
Three straight wins by the Eagles, who won their first game two weeks ago by 14-7 over Fallston of Harford County and showed improvement in a 21-0 loss to South River on Friday night, would score three crucial bonus points for the Gophers.
Not playing Northeast at all, and dropping the Eagles from their schedule, could keep Severna Park from making post season play. Severna Park is the only 4A Region IV team playing a 9-game schedule, but the decision is justified.
Last year the Northeast -- Severna Park game was such a fiasco that Falcon coach Andy Borland sagely canceled this year's commitment with the Eagles so no one would be maimed or embarrassed. Severna Park won last year's game 30-zip with an entire period unplayed. With several Northeast players already carried off the field and one seriously injured, the game was called before completion.
The two schools played jayvee football this year with Severna Park rallying in the last couple minutes to win, but the varsity match-up with a powerful 4A taking on a 2A is another story in terms of safety.
"I would sooner play nine games than play a game we have no right playing," said Borland after his Falcons' 21-13 win over Old Mill earlier this season. "We would have had to go out of state to fill that bye on our schedule this year and we couldn't do that, so, we have to live with the nine games and hope everything works out."
It very well could work out for the Falcons.
Severna Park absolutely must win its final three games -- at Broadneck, Glen Burnie and at home vs. arch-rival Annapolis. Things could fall into place for Severna Park if Glen Burnie wins in Annapolis this week and at home the final week over Old Mill and with Old Mill taking two of its last three, over Arundel and Broadneck.
That would put in Severna Park at 7-2, and leave Glen Burnie and Old Mill at 8-2 each. The playoff points average is the final factor in who wins the Region and automatic playoff berth and in the above scenario, Severna Park could gain as many as 15 bonus points from its final three foes -- Glen Burnie (8), Broadneck (3-providing the Bruins win their last game at Queen Anne's) and Annapolis (4 -- beating Meade but losing to both Glen Burnie and Severna Park).
It's conceivable by so doing that Severna Park's average could be 9.0 or better when all the bonus points are tabulated. At the same time, Old Mill and Glen Burnie would be very close to 9.0 or just above depending on several "if" games.
Now of course, if either Old Mill or Glen Burnie sweeps its final three games, the sweeper would be in. Glen Burnie has the rougher schedule with a visit to Annapolis (Glen Burnie upset Annapolis 11-0 last year) and home games vs. Severna Park and Old Mill.