The final week of regular-season football is always tough to call, and this year was no different as the Prophet finished the 10-week schedule with a lackluster 4-3 record. But now he can look forward to the playoffs.
The 4-3 card, which included upsets by Glen Burnie, Northeast and Meade, left the Prophet's overall record at 72-29, a more-than-respectable percentage of .712.
Glen Burnie completed its season at 5-5 by upsetting playoff-bound and Region IV champion Old Mill, 22-20, at Glen Burnie. The sagester had Old Mill winning, 17-7, and was let down by the Patriots (8-2).
Class 2A Northeast (5-5) was the Prophet's underdog at 4A Chesapeake, 21-13, but for the second year in a row the Eagles nipped the 1-9 Cougars, 20-19.
Meade (5-5) upset Arundel, 12-7. The Prophet said it would be the Wildcats (4-6) by 20-14.
Here are the Prophet's correct picks from last week in parentheses following the actual score: Severna Park 16, Annapolis 14 (Severna Park, 27-20); North County 20, Broadneck 16 (North County, 10-6); South River 29, Southern 7 (South River, 20-14); and Sidwell Friends of D.C. 12, Archbishop Spalding 7 (Sidwell, 14-7).
This week the rage of a sage handicaps three Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association playoff games involving Old Mill and North County in Class 4A and South River in Class 3A. Overall, the Prophet foresees a difficult weekend for the trio.
Class 4A: No. 7 Largo (8-2) of Prince George's at No. 2 Old Mill (8-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday
In their first postseason appearance last fall, the Patriots of Coach Pete Regala came up short, 17-7, to Thomas S. Wootton of Montgomery County at Old Mill.
Tomorrow thePats get a chance to redeem themselves by winning their first-ever playoff game at home, but it won't be easy.
It doesn't help that Old Mill is coming off a loss. Its offense has been extremely inconsistent and could be missing big-play man Eric Sheppard, while its defense has been their salvation.
In fairness to the Pats' offensive unit, senior running back Harold Peters has been fighting the flu the last couple of weeks.
"We're hoping the Greek will be back to full strength by Friday," said Regala.
But his team overall may not be at full strength with Sheppard questionable. The senior back chipped an ankle in Friday night's loss to Glen Burnie.
"Eric is iffy rightnow," said Regala of his two-way back, who has a knack for making big plays offensively and defensively. "I've known a lot of guys who have had a hard cast taken off and who have played right after."
Regala also said he wasn't concerned about team morale despite the loss to the Gophers and reported internal problems.
The Old Mill coach swapped tapes with his opponent this week, and it was his first look at Largo.
What Regala saw was a sophomore tailback who can fly, inEric Cariaga. Cariaga has rushed for 1,577 yards and 10 touchdowns on 201 attempts. More importantly, and something the Prophet feels gives Largo the edge, is that Cariaga runs behind a mammoth offensive line with three guys at 250 pounds or more.
Lion senior tackles TonyHeyword and Marcus Moore are 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds and 6-2, 260, respectively.
On defense, linebacker Adrian Callame is considered to be one of the hardest hitters in Prince George's County.
Old Mill can't match the Lions' size, and while the Pats hope to use their own speed, the Lions have some quickness of their own.
The last three weeks of the regular season will take its toll on the Pats, the way the Prophet sees it. Three weeks ago they got a gift at Annapolis when the host Panthers fashioned one of their patented give-aways by 22-14 in OT.
Playing 1-9 Queen Anne's, winless at the time, the following week and winning, 34-7, wasn't much of a test and then losing to Glen Burnie didn't help either.
The Prophet sees too many negatives on the Patriots' page. Instead of peaking at this time of the year, the Pats seem to be sinking. Largo 20, Old Mill 14.
Class4A: No. 5 North County (8-2) at No. 4 Oxon Hill (8-2) of Prince George's, 1 p.m. Saturday.
In contrast to Old Mill, the Knights of Chuck Markiewicz are peaking at the right time. North County has earned its initial postseason berth in only its second season of varsity football, but this is not going to be one of those token "just glad to be there" appearances.
North County intends to win.
When the Prophet asked Markiewicz who the team to beat was in Class 4A, without hesitation, he answered, "North County!"
The Prophet doesn't know about that, but he believes it will win this first game for several reasons. No. 1, coaching. No. 2, this team knows how to win and does whatever it takes. No. 3, Anthony Walker, running back and linebacker standout.
Markiewicz and his staff have turned in a remarkable coaching job this season, and the way they prepare their Knights has shown in the team's ability to bounce back. In their eight victories, theKnights have come from behind.