Maryland State Playoffs Region Round 2
Bayside Conference Picks:
We have gone from 13 teams in the Bayside down to 6 (4-2A teams and 2-1A teams) just like that as the playoffs continue into Round #2. Outside of Kent County’s upset of Snow Hill every other game went chalk. Believe it or not Queen Anne’s win over Bennett was their first playoff win since November 19, 2010, against Fallston. They would advance after that game to their third straight semifinal playoff appearance but come up short to McDonough preventing them from returning to the 2A State Final for a second straight year…The games only get tougher from here on out. In the 2A East Region, there is a big #2 versus #3 seed matchup with North Caroline and Kent Island. #1 Stephen Decatur and #4 Queen Anne’s finally get to play after QA forfeited their game against the Seahawks in Week #1 due to a self-imposed penalty decided upon before the season started. In the 1A East Cambridge hosts Kent County…After these games re-seeding takes place so there will not be Bayside versus Bayside teams next week as has mostly been the case so far outside of Colonel-Bo Manor last week.
*Some Stats courtesy of Bill Haufe and The Star-Democrat
Our Overtime Live ‘Game of the Week’ presented by ‘Preston Ford’ can be heard on 94-3 WINX-FM on the Mid-Shore, on the WINX-FM App and streaming at forevermidshore.com…’The U.S. Heating & Air Pre-Game Show’ is at 6:40pm with a kickoff at 7pm…The Friday Night Lights Game of the Week is:
#2/#2 North Caroline (9-1) hosting #3/#3 Kent Island (8-2)-7pm-Both of these teams met just a few weeks ago with Caroline winning 21-14. All the points were scored in the 2nd quarter. Caroline went up 13-0 on back-to-back plays, one of which came on a pick six. Kent Island answered with a critical score to cut the deficit to 13-7 only to see Caroline go back up two scores 21-7 only to then have Kent Island respond with another score to narrow the deficit again to one score and then that was all she wrote for the scoring. All three scores for Caroline came courtesy of RB/WR/DB Zymir Smith who had rushing and receiving TDs. He was also the one who had the pick six. Kent Island had two drives capped off by Nathan Green TDs. The Bucs had other good drives in the game but whether it was a holding call on a big play, an overthrow of a wide open WR, or getting stopped on 4th down and being forced to turn the ball back over to Caroline, Kent Island could not get in the end zone.
While not the same because the first matchup was very competitive this season, this playoff matchup reminds me a little of 2017 when North Caroline blew out Kent Island at home in Week #9 35-14 only to see Kent Island come back in two weeks in the first round of the playoffs and defeat Caroline 33-29. Bottom line this is a toss up game. Both teams run the ball well and play good defense. The last game could have easily gone Kent Island’s way, but it didn’t. The Bucs will need to do a better job in containing the big play ability of the versatile Caroline backfield that can see QB Bell and or WB Smith go to WR with Corey Buntz coming in at QB in some packages. The Bulldogs mind you also have Weber and Hall. KI will have to throw better than they have in the second half of the season. Maybe some unpredictable passing calls to get Gavan Henry some early confidence would help. He will have to at least make a few plays in the air as will Bell and or Buntz. Both run defenses will want to have success on 1st down and force 3rd and longs on the others offense. Kent Island was able to move the ball the last time these two teams played but couldn’t finish. Kent Island, like Caroline has good depth at RB, Caroline though has bigger explosive play ability. With all that said having played them once already Kent Island’s defense will make any additional adjustments, I would think to make sure they limit the big plays. Remember they held Caroline scoreless for the 1st, 3rd, and 4th quarters too. It’s tough to beat the Bucs twice in a season. If there is a team to do it outside of Decatur it would be these Bulldogs who are just a play away from the end zone every time and that’s what makes them so good and dangerous. They may very well make me eat my words, but I am going with the Bucs to pull it out.
THURSDAY PLAYOFF GAME:
(First number is Region Seeding, Second Number is OTL Ranking):
1A East Regional:
#2/#5 Cambridge-SD (7-2) hosting #6/#12 Kent County (2-8)-6pm-The Vikings won this matchup in the regular season over the Trojans 52-0 back on September 29th. This matchup is now over a month later and both teams are better since that matchup. The Vikings dispatched Washington last week, winning handily 51-6. Kent County, after losing 47-6 to Snow Hill in the last week of the regular season turned right around on a short week and defeated the Eagles on the road 34-18 to win their first playoff game since 2016. They changed their defense to a 5-2 and moved some personnel around on offense which bolstered their attack as they were effective with their smashmouth power run game, and they ran the ball all over Snow Hill. The Vikings were not likely going to overlook the Trojans anyway but with their win over Snow Hill that will not happen this week. Cambridge will no doubt get all they can manage from Kent County, but the Vikings who are better than Snow Hill are the better team here as well with more experience and weapons at the skill positions. They also have the advantage at QB. Cambridge should take care of business and win.
#1/#1 Stephen Decatur (10-0) hosting #4/#4 Queen Anne’s (6-4)-6pm-These two teams were supposed to meet on the field Week #1, that didn’t happen, the why has been well documented and doesn’t need to be revisited. Now we get our chance to see the one 2A matchup that has yet to be played. The Seahawks are rolling and while they have been tested in a few games early on have mostly dominated. The Lions come in with solid trench play especially on the defensive side of the ball. Queen Anne’s will look to disrupt the Decatur offensive line. Decatur has seen it all at this point against various types of teams but that doesn’t mean they won’t get a test from the Lions. The Lions who will once against start So. QB Lance Arnold will look to build upon a strong win against Bennett last week after being shutout 30-0 to Kent Island two weeks ago in a game where little went right for them. They will want to keep the ball out of Decatur’s hands and control the time of possession by running the ball (sound familiar?). When they do throw, WR Jadarion Thompson the speedy freshman playmaker will surely be someone they will get the ball to both in the air and on the ground in creative ways. One would think the Hawks will look to load the box (as much as they can against a spread) and run blitz to contain the ground game led by RBs John Connolly, Jai Roy and DeRodney Smith. Thus, forcing the Lions to make plays in the air with a young signal caller and young weapons. Arnold has a strong arm, and Decatur’s D will need to make sure Thompson is contained. The Lions made some changes on their offensive line last week, will those stay or do they change again against a different opponent. We shall see. The Seahawks are a dangerous team, and I could see them getting tested early and feeling out a team they have not played this season and that may keep them at bay for a little bit, but they won’t panic, and they will figure it out. That said the Lions did give up 30 points to KI two weeks ago. Decatur has the better and more balanced offense than the Bucs. You get the feeling this is QA’s Super Bowl of sorts, and it should be for any Bayside team in wanting to take down the best team in the Conference although a State Championship is the goal not that they don’t know that, and they must get through Decatur to get a step closer. That said I see Decatur doing what they need to do to win the game. Ideally for them they get some early stops on defense, get a few scores, and force the Lions to become one dimensional. The experience and advantage at QB and the skill positions will be one of the differences in the game. Decatur will come out the winner and advance.
Last Week’s Playoff Picks: 5-2
2023 Regular Season Picks: 56-10