To call it a "high risk" offense would be a bit of an understatement. The way North County plays the run-and-shoot, more like Russian roulette.
In the six games he's started at quarterback, junior Eric Howard has completed 73 of 163 passes for 992 yards, eight touchdowns and a whopping 23 interceptions. That's nearly a 1:7 interception to attempts ratio.
"We're going for the [interception] record," said unrepentant North County coach Chuck Markiewicz. "We don't know what it is, but we're going to set it."
In fact, coach, you already have the record by default, because the rest of the high school football world is quick to erase any such distinction from its collective memory. It's sort of like counting all your disastrous blind dates. The faster forgotten, the better.
Despite the turnovers, North County, on the heels of a 14-7 victory over Meade, has won three in a row for a 6-2 record, and is in the chase for a state playoff spot. Winning does wonders for the sense of humor.
Even though the Knights won their first two games with sophomore Reggie Moore at quarterback, he was sacked 13 times. Howard, last year's third-string quarterback who began the season starting at defensive end, has been sacked just four times in six games.
"When you run the ball 60 times a game, nobody says anything if you fumble four or five times and you lose the ball at the line of scrimmage," Markiewicz said. "We're throwing the ball down the field. If there's an interception, it's just like a punt."
Howard, who Markiewicz said has had "about eight" balls tipped to opponents by his own receivers, threw a season-high seven "punts" against Severna Park. Still, the Knights won, 28-20, behind four Howard touchdown passes.
"The key to this thing is our defense," said Markiewicz. "If it wasn't as good as it is, we wouldn't be able to throw like we do."
Happily, Moore is now an important part of that defense. "Reggie wants to play quarterback," Markiewicz said. "But he has become a force in the secondary."
And to change back now might sabotage the coach's strategy for field position. They switched from sacks to interceptions, he said, "Because we figured at least we'd be on the other side of the line of scrimmage."
* ARE YOU LISTENING, JOE KRIVAK? Coaches believe that few high school freshmen are physically and emotionally ready to compete against 17- and 18-year-olds.
But Southwestern coach Fred Kaiss was looking for an offensive spark and thought freshman quarterback Marcus Nickens had earned a chance. Nickens, 14 years old, responded with eight completions in 14 attempts for 229 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions as the Sabres beat Curley, 28-0.
* DUCK WEATHER: When it rains it pours. Douglass hasn't had many big plays in recent years, but in Saturday's 28-7 win over Spalding, the Ducks had a couple of seasons' worth.
The envelopes please:
Sophomore Jerome Anderson, playing only his third game after joining the team late, ran the second-half kickoff back 99 yards for the area's longest scoring play of the week. Anderson lost another in the same quarter when an overenthusiastic teammate, well behind him as he neared the end of an 80-yard kickoff return, threw an unnecessary and illegal block.
Linebacker Sam Womack scored on a 75-yard interception return, also the area's longest.
And to wrap up their scoring in the fourth quarter, the Ducks even had a lineman's dream. Defensive linemen Keith Parker and Robert Williams were chasing Spalding's quarterback in the backfield. Parker threw up his hands at a pass attempt and tipped it. Williams, 6 feet 3 and 260 pounds, plucked the ball from the air and ran 20 yards for the touchdown.
How The Baltimore top 20 fared
F: Team (record) .. .. This week .. .. .. .. .. Next week
1. Calvert Hall (7-0) .. Beat Forest Park, 24-12 ..at City
2. City (6-0) .. .. .. ..Beat Gibbons, 36-12 .. .. Calvert Hall
3. Wilde Lake (8-0) .. Beat Atholton, 34-13 .. ..Mt. Hebron
4. C.M. Wright (8-0) ..Beat J. Carroll, 49-22 .. Joppatowne
5. Loyola (5-1-1) .. ..Beat Gilman, 7-3 .. .. .. . Forest Park
6. Overlea (8-0) .. .. Beat Pikesville, 35-14 .. . Loch Raven
7. Aberdeen (7-1) .. ..Beat Parkville, 7-0 .. .. .at N. Harford
(Tie) Old Mill (7-1) ..Beat Annapolis, 22-14 .. .. Q. Anne's
9. Poly (3-2) .. .. .. Beat Lake Clifton, 36-0 .. .Mt. St. Joe
10. Patterson (6-2) .. Beat Walbrook, 34-0 .. .. ..Carver
11. South River (7-1)..Beat Lackey, 21-15 .. .. ..at Northeast
12. Gilman (4-3) .. .. Lost to Loyola, 7-3 .. .. idle
13. Annapolis (5-3) .. Lost to Old Mill, 22-14 ..Chesa.-AA
14. Edgewood (6-2) .. .Beat Bel Air, 43-6 .. .. ..J. Carroll
15. Gibbons (3-4) .. ..Lost to City, 36-12 .. .. at L. Clifton
16. Severna Park (5-3)..Beat Broadneck, 21-9 .. at Arundel
17. Woodlawn (6-2) .. ..Beat EVT, 39-7 .. .. .. ..at Fort Hil
18. North County (6-2)..Beat Meade, 14-7 .. .. ..Glen Burnie
19. Northern (4-2) .. ..Beat Southern-B, 28-6 .. ..Walbrook
20. Randallstown (5-3) ..Beat Dulaney, 28-14 .. .. at Dundalk