Despite the fact that Meade football coach Hayse Henderson told me Friday night, after his team's 14-6 loss at Severna Park, "We are the best team in the league," there may not be a "best team" in the Class4A circuit.
We just might end up with a tri-championship for the county this fall.
Old Mill was beaten, 6-3, for the first time Saturday at Broadneck, leaving Old Mill tied for first, at 4-1, with Annapolis. Severna Park is just a half game back, at 3-1.
Adding to the confusion, three more teams -- North County (3-2), Arundel and Broadneck (2-2 each)-- are close behind. And Glen Burnie (2-3) and Meade (1-3) are stillmathematically alive. Only 0-5 Chesapeake is out.
Think how amazing that is. Halfway through the league schedule, seven teams are still in the nine-team race. That's better than the NFL, where most of the teams will be eligible until the final period of the last regular season game.
"This whole league is so damned competitive that we knock each other off all the way up and down the line, and that's why we're very lucky when two teams from our region go to the playoffs," said Severna Park coach Andy Borland after Friday night's big Homecoming victory over Meade in a steady drizzle.
"Montgomery County putstwo teams in the playoffs, sometimes three, every year because threeteams are really up and the rest of them are terrible."
Borland is right on the money, and this year is truly the most competitive. Even last-place Chesapeake is capable of beating any of the rest, especially at home.
Friday at Chesapeake, North County escaped with a 21-14 victory on a last-minute, 58-yard TD pass from Eric Howard to Damon Martin. Winning Knights coach Chuck Markiewicz knew his team was very lucky.
"We had three touchdowns called back in the first halfand one more late in the game, and we still won scoring two touchdowns in the last 13 minutes," said Markiewicz on the 24-Hour SPORTSLINE(647-2499). "The winner came with only 25 seconds left."
Fortunately for the rest of the league, two of Chesapeake's final three county league games are away at Broadneck and Arundel, but Annapolis better beware because the Panthers travel to Lake Shore in three weeks.
It may be a tired cliche, but "anything can happen" more than ever before. Year in, year out, the 4A coaches have sung the praises of howcompetitive their league is, calling it "the best from top to bottomin the state." But there has never been anything quite like this season.
No longer is there at least one guaranteed victory because Chesapeake is no longer a pushover. If the Cougars were playing in any league other than Anne Arundel, they would not be winless.
Borlandis right about Montgomery County: Their best teams are top of the line and usually win the state championship, but the rest of the leagueis not that good.
As a result, after six games into the season, Montgomery has three teams very much in the running. Thomas Wootton is6-0, and Quince Orchard and Paint Branch are 5-1 each overall. All three are in Region I.
There's more bad news for Anne Arundel 4A teams from Prince George's County. Oxon Hill, High Point (with a win over Severna Park) and Largo stand at 5-1 each, plus Eleanor Roosevelt and Crossland are 4-2 each with Laurel at 3-2.
Oxon Hill and Largoare in Region III, while High Point, Roosevelt and Laurel are in Region II.
With eight teams coming from the state's four regions, Anne Arundel could very well end up with only its Region IV winner advancing.
At the moment, only Old Mill (5-1) has one loss, while Annapolis, Severna Park and North County are 4-2 each. If these guys keep knocking each other off, look for just one to go to postseason, because when you get to three losses, you can forget it.
Baltimore County, which boasted last year's state champion in Randallstown, could get shut out with its top two teams at 4-2 each in Perry Hall and Woodlawn. Perry Hall downed Woodlawn over the weekend, 20-12, to leave the pair deadlocked.
The bad news for our neighbor is that Perry Hall has a crucial game with Class 3A playoff-bound South River (5-1, including Friday's 54-0 assault at Lansdowne) of our county this week and Woodlawn plays Randallstown. The Rams have moved down to 3A and boast a 4-2 overall record.
If Old Mill and Severna Park sweep theirremaining four games, those two would certainly make it at 9-1 and 8-2, respectively.
An Annapolis sweep would include home victories over both Old Mill and Severna Park, which may be too tall of an order for the young Panthers and their sputtering offense (just 32 pointsin its last three games).
North County, the league's rookie team,will put its season on the line Friday when the Knights play host toSeverna Park. The loser is out of here in terms of postseason play.
Right now, Severna Park, with sharpshooter Tim Bowerman at the controls and a tough, menacing defense led by Gerald Cager, Dan Probst and Pat Krashoc, looks like the region's best team.