Just a week ago, we talked about how competitive the Class 4A RegionIV high school football league was going to be this year. Not to labor the point, but after this past weekend, have you ever seen anything like it?
Only two teams remain unbeaten at 3-0 in Old Mill and Glen Burnie, but it's doubtful that either of those two teams will go undefeated, and the team to beat just might be the youngest in the league, Annapolis (2-1).
Just look at what happened this past weekend.
Old Mill posted a "big" win at Severna Park (1-2) by 17-14, and that is indicative ofthe parity among the contenders. The former is defending Region IV champion while the latter is defending county champion, and it might only be three points that separates most of the county 4A teams this year.
Glen Burnie took a squeaker over Chesapeake (1-2) by 21-14 indouble overtime, and that result makes things real interesting. A lot of coaches have been saying that Glen Burnie is a team to watch andthe Gophers may be, but how about the effort by Chesapeake?
The Cougars were coming off a 28-0 shellacking at the hands of Old Mill and have spent most of their football history looking up at the competition from the bottom of the standings. If that effort is an indication of things to come, then the rest of the 4A League teams had better not jot down Chesapeake as a sure win.
Coaches swear they play thegames one at a time and never look ahead, counting wins before the games are played, but we know they at least think about the ones they are "supposed to win" and put them down mentally as they try to figure out the playoff puzzle.
Chesapeake has gone 1-9 the past two seasons and pretty much been the 4A team everybody expects to beat, but they may have changed Friday night against Glen Burnie. Don't look for anyone to take the Cougars lightly the rest of the way, including Severna Park this Friday night.
Severna Park has to be concerned going into Chesapeake. The Falcons have hammered the Cougars the last two seasons by scores of 35-13 (1990) and 28-7 (1989), but in 1988 on the way to a 9-2 record and playoff berth, the Falcons struggled in a14-12 squeaker over Chesapeake.
Coaches' memories are long and you can bet the Falcons' Andy Borland remembers that game well and the fact that Chesapeake was 5-5 that year. Borland is not one to take anything for granted and will have his team convinced that this is going to be a tough game Friday.
in the back of their minds, coaches have looked at Chesapeake as a guaranteed win the past couple of years, but not so this fall. That's what the Glen Burnie game tells us -- or it could be that Glen Burnie is not as good as everyone thought.
I'm inclined to believe the former and that suddenly the lower level of the 4A league is inches away from being on a par with the top level.
Arundel (0-3), Glen Burnie's opponent Friday night, is the only team in the 4A circuit without a win, but the Wildcats could very easily be 2-1 after bowing to North County (2-1) by only 9-8 and to Broadneck (1-2) by 14-7. The same could be said of Broadneck.
Actually with a tad more offense, the Bruins could be 3-0. Broadneck lost its opener by 6-3 to South River in overtime and by 20-16 to Glen Burnie. Annapolis coach Roy Brown, whose Panthers won their second in a row
rather impressively over North County by 33-7 Friday night, iswell-aware of what Broadneck has been doing.
Brown couldn't even savor the victory and his 43rd birthday Friday without thinking aboutthe Bruins. Moments after his Panthers sang "Happy Birthday" to him in the locker room, Brown was talking about the Bruins.
"Right nowwe have the potential to be obviously a lot better than last year (5-5), and I think we have the potential down the road to compete with Severna Park and Old Mill," he said. "But the problem is, we have to play Broadneck this week.
"Glen Burnie is somebody people (media and pollsters) are overlooking. I've heard they look outstanding. I don't want to say we're going to be champions yet because it's too early."
And "early" it would be for Annapolis, in that the Panthers have only 16 seniors on their 45-man squad. There are 16 juniors, 11 sophomores and two freshmen on this year's edition.
With 10th-grade quarterback Juan Johnson leading the way, at least a dozen of the underclassmen have made key contributions in the early going for the Panthers. "J. J.," as he is known, fired three touchdown passes and ran for another this past weekend in the rout of North County.
"We have three quarterbacks (senior Richard Mears and sophomore Chris Johnson the other two) that are pretty decent, and I think J is coming along and hope he keeps improving."
While he was doing his best to control his inner excitement and optimism, Brown was also more than pleased with his secondaries. The Panthers started three sophomores -- Chris Johnson, Jerry Thompson and Kevin Belt -- in the secondary vs. the North County run and shoot.