After a more than respectable high school football season in which he went 74-30 for a percentage of .711, your favorite prognosticator is back.
That's right, sports fans, Prophet Pat is back with his weekly picks on high school hoops with a -- of wrestling and indoor track.
The Prophet is the only local prognosticator who works year-round. The other local guys quit after football, while your rage of a sagenever seems to get enough.
The Prophet takes a couple of weeks off following the conclusion of the football season and returns very refreshed for the winter season. The weeks off are guaranteed because the county's football teams almost always get clipped in the first playoff round, which means only one week of postseason picks.
Now, let the sage remind you of the different set of ground rules for hoops and other winter sports picks. First of all, the Prophet only handicaps six games a week and unlike football, he must cover his point spread.
Example: if the Prophet picks a team to win by two points, they must win by two or more for him to claim a victory. The idea is to make it difficult for the Prophet to win. Anybody can say who's goingto win, but by how many points is what makes it tough.
This is all done in fun with the idea to preview games, strategies and rivalries and to generate interest in the big games. The fun of it is in the teams, coaches and players who set out to make the Prophet look bad and eat his words.
Let's see what the Prophet has for us to tip offthe hoops season.
Last year's records in parentheses:
Meade (18-6) at North County (4-18), 7 p.m. Friday.
You just never know what veteran Meade coach Butch Young is going to come up with, but you can be sure he will come up with something good.
The county's second-leading all-time winning coach (341-181, behind Tom Albright of Southern, 365-205) almost always has a playoff contender, and his trademark is defense and the jump shot.
Young has a strong returning nucleus, led by seniors Brian Parker (6-foot-8) and IanTaylor (6-3) and got his Christmas present early when senior Robby Sommerville (6-1) showed up. Sommerville made the Mustang team as a ninth-grader, but left two years for a private school.
After a slow start last year, Young brought this team on in grand fashion at the end before bowing to Broadneck in the playoffs. Meade again will be a playoff team, and the Prophet believes it will bolt out of the gate this year, starting tomorrow night at North County.
North County will be much improved from last season, because Brad Wilson can coach. After all, the guy worked as an assistant to Young at Meade for about10 years, but the Knights program is still treading water. Meade plus 6 over North County.
Northeast (16-8) at Glen Burnie (5-17), 7 p.m. Friday
Now here is a pretty interesting game with the visiting Eagles of Johnny Barbour coming off two playoff seasons (17-7 and 16-8) in Class 2A and taking on a 4A school that hasn't had a winning season since 1988 (12-10) but should have one this year.
The host Gophers of Terry Bogle will be much improved from last season with 6-6 junior center Jamal Forbes expected to be one of the best players in the county.
Senior guard Gene Pleyo (6-1) will lead Northeast and is arguably the best at his position in the county. The question is, how fast will the inexperienced cast around him jell?
The Prophet says the Eagles will suffer in the early part of the season before getting it together. Opening night will be rough. Glen Burnie plus 8 over Northeast.
South River (11-12) at Leonardtown (10-11), 7 p.m. Friday.
Here they are, those Seahawks from Edgewater which the Prophet predicts will be one of the county's most improved teams this season.
On paper, Coach Kenny Dunn has his best team sincethe 16-7 club of 1983. The Hawks have had only one winning season since then, a 13-11 campaign in 1985, but he's got one here if he can keep these guys together.
Guys like Albert Lee (6-2), Darren Hall (6-5) and Edmund Hicks (6-4) -- to mention just three from this seasoned squad -- are going to give Hawk fans a lot to cheer about.
If they don't get bored and lose their intensity during the long haul to St. Mary's County tomorrow night, South River should open big againstone of their Class 3A Region IV opponents. South River plus 10 over Leonardtown.
Arundel (8-14) at Poly (8-11), 3:30 p.m. Friday
The Prophet doesn't think that Wildcat fans should get theirhopes up for this season, because it's going to be another thin year in Gambrills.
Arundel has shown no improvement since Gerald Moore took over three years ago. It's basically the same bottom-of-the-barrel team it was when Lee Rogers was coach before he moved over to turn the girls program around at Arundel.
If the 'Cats' opening game was at home, they might have a shot to win, but unfortunately it's at Poly, where it sometimes seems as if the referees are wearing the Engineers' blue and orange.