Week #6 Bayside Conference Picks:
We finally get a week of all Friday games as they were meant to be played. The likely 2A Game of the Year is this week, more on that coming up. There is also a huge 1A game this week as well that could determine the Bayside 1A (or Small School) Champion.
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 Roto Rooter Pre-Game Show is at 5:40pm with a kickoff at 6pm…The Friday Night Lights Game of the Week is:
#1 Stephen Decatur (5-0) at #2 Kent Island (5-0)-6pm-This looks like the ‘Game of the Year’ in the 2A, of course if Decatur and North Caroline win this week you will have a battle of two 6-0 teams next week…For the time being however this is a huge matchup and the best we have had so far this season. The two teams that went the furthest in the MD State Playoffs last year are back at it this season with undefeated records. While there have been some competitive games over the years, Decatur has not defeated Kent Island since 2008. This game is being played in Stevensville as it was last season when Kent Island won 31-14. While this matchup pits two of the best Head Coaches in the Bayside in Bryon Sofinowski and Jake Coleman it also matches two of the best assistant coaches in the Bayside and both are the defensive coordinators for their respective teams, Tim Goodrich for Kent Island and Todd Appel for Stephen Decatur. Goodrich has been considered the best DC in the Bayside for a while now and has been a huge part of the success at Kent Island for over a decade. Appel is best known for his time winning five 1A MD State Championships in twelve seasons as Head Coach at Fort Hill. He was inducted into the MD Football Coaching Hall of Fame back in April. Appel is in his second season as DC at Decatur. Goodrich will matchup against Decatur OC Russell Croteau who deserves a lot of credit for the success of the new Air Raid offense that was installed in Berlin a few years back. Appel will go against Sofinowski (also the offensive play caller) who to his credit has made sure the KI offense is more balanced this season and has had success with new Jr. QB Gavan Henry in the air.
Decatur this year is lighter in the trenches but uses its speed, smarts, and energy to be successful on defense as evidenced in Week 2 against a much bigger Reisterstown team. On offense the line is aided by often quick pass plays that are called and the mobility of QB Brycen Coleman. Coleman, a Vanderbilt commit, is a huge part of the offense with his throwing and running ability. The Seahawks operate out of the gun most of the time. SD has plenty of skill guys and speed who can run and catch like Amarian Manuel, Jamien Purnell, Careen Bolden, Tribe Wise, Ethan Bradshaw, and Gavin Solito. While they have put up big numbers and scores, they still have room to grow where it is not always clean and crisp as you would like it to be. Some of that you must give the defense credit for and in the case of the Snow Hill game, the wind and rain were a challenge at times, and they had too many penalties. The defense has been very good this season but also has been aided by a strong offense and big leads. This will be their biggest test to date when you combine talent and coaching from the offense.
Kent Island once again is strong on defense and this year has a balanced offense with their power run game and solid passing attack. The Bucs have rolled most of this season despite returning just a few starters. However, many of this year’s starters are seniors and had some experience coming into this season but just had not started games. Despite the loss of Kasey Heath other backs like RB Jaxson Hess and RB Shane Bogardus have stepped up along the way including TE Tucker Claxton along with last year’s backup QB Gavan Henry, now the starter. Their toughest game was against City College (Baltimore) where they started strong but had to hold off a big second half charge by the Knights. Decatur is close to what the City offense presented to Kent Island’s defense from a talent perspective although City had two Division I WRs.
Kent Island’s defense will be tested as they were against City where they gave up many more points than they are used to. However, they do have that experience under their belt and the best DC in the Bayside and you can expect a strong effort from the Bucs. Offensively this will be the biggest football game for Henry to date although he does bring plenty of big game experience from the lacrosse field into this one. Lloyd Price will be guarded closely so it will be up to Claxton to be that intermediate and short outlet for Henry along with others. The Bucs will need to run the ball better than they did last week to be balanced and take some pressure off Henry. From a strategic standpoint as well, while the defense is plenty capable it is better if Decatur’s offense stays off the field while also trying to make the Decatur defense play more plays than they have all season.
It comes down to this, the two reasons I put Decatur as the Pre-Season #1 as compared to Kent Island was the returning QB in Brycen Coleman and all he accomplished last year and the amount of skill guys he still has back with him this season along with Careen Bolden, the Seaford QB/Ath transfer. (Btw if there was an ever game where you saw Bolden in a lot of packages including at QB, this would be it). This game could certainly go either way, but I think Decatur has more offense and speed and enough defense to come away the winner on the road.
#9 Parkside (1-4) hosting #10 Easton (1-4)-6pm-Both teams are struggling this season when they were expected to be in a better spot. Both are without the services of their starting QBs for distinct reasons and for Parkside that has been the case for the entire season. The Warriors have struggled mightily on offense as they have shifted things around and are starting three sophomores on the line. They have adjusted to a mostly run attack from a passing attack. For Parkside they have struggled on offense as well with running a new scheme as apart of their attack and starting a QB moved up from the JV team. That all said I like the Rams at home to win this one because they are very battled tested and have good size on the line. While Easton has a good defense and a talented RB in Branden Jenkins and Dustin Blue, the Rams are deep at RB and have a good amount of speed. I like Parkside to win this game but if the Warriors defense is not on the field too long, they may be able to keep it a close game, but the Rams offense should be better and is a little more organized right now.
#7 Cambridge (3-2) hosting #5 Wicomico (1-4)-6pm-I have grappled the most with this game over the others. Cambridge already has a win over 2A Parkside and their loss in Week 1 to 2A North Caroline was closer than the score indicated. The Vikings have speed and skill to compete with a WiHi team that also usually brings those traits to the table. Wicomico is very battled tested and has played well on defense. Their offense though has struggled a lot. The Vikings can only play who is on their schedule but two of their wins are against winless teams, however. The Vikings are more balanced on offense and the Indians have had the issues in scoring. That said WiHi has played a tough schedule, and you feel like they are due to win one of these games despite their offensive struggles of which they are also due to score some points you would think soon. I think this will be a low scoring game, and while my head says Cambridge my gut says Wicomico. I will go with the Indians.
#6 Colonel Richardson (2-3) vs. #11 Snow Hill (4-1)-6pm-This is a huge 1A matchup that could determine this year’s Bayside 1A championship. Colonel has won the title the last two seasons and despite their record this season all three of their losses have been against particularly good opponents, the most recent last week, a two-point loss on the road. Both of their wins have come against fellow 1A teams…The Eagles are off to their best start since 2007 under new HC Raheem Hammond who played on some of the old Snow Hill teams, which were always strong in the 1A and regularly made the playoffs. That was also the time that despite being a 1A they would battle and sometimes get wins against Worcester County rival, and then a 3A, Stephen Decatur.
Snow Hill has an experienced team and plenty of skill and speed. This game should be a tight one and the Eagles have a legitimate chance at winning, that said, a few things stand out: One is the style of offense Colonel plays---if successful can keep the other team’s offense off the field for long periods of time which limits the opportunities for the opposition. Second Colonel has speed and some decent size in the trenches. They also can throw the football some if necessary although their calling card of course is their Double wing, wedge/rugby scrum running offense. The Colonel defense, which has given up its fair share of points did have a strong game against a skilled Cambridge team (that mirrors this Snow Hill team) holding them to 13 points. Colonel though will be best suited to keep Snow Hill’s offense off the field. Third Colonel has strung together several successful seasons that have been passed down from class to class. They have won many regular season games and a few playoff games, in addition to a few championships. A game like this with a lot on the line is not entirely new to them. Even though Snow Hill is experienced this is the program’s biggest game in years. Colonel also gets this game at home. A Snow Hill win would not be surprising but until the champ is knocked off and for the reasons just stated I am going with the Colonels.
#13 Washington (0-4) hosting Arcadia, VA (4-2)-6pm-The Jags are still looking for their first win of the year but despite their loss to Snow Hill last week, HC Alec Meintzer felt like they played some of their best ball all year as they look for incremental progress each week. This will be Arcadia’s third matchup against a Bayside team having defeated Kent County but losing to Snow Hill. Arcadia has 4 wins and Washington has none so obviously going with Arcadia here, but it will be interesting to see if Washington can build on last week and make at least the first half of the game if not longer competitive.
#4 Queen Anne’s (2-3) at #12 Kent County (0-5)-6:30pm-The Lions are looking to get back in the win column after fighting hard but coming up short at home last Saturday to North Caroline. The Lions, a 2A team, are the better of the two, especially in the trenches and on defense. Queen Anne’s should not have much issue with the winless 1A Trojans on the road. Kent County has had a tough go of it this year, their schedule has not helped.
#3 North Caroline (5-0) hosting #8 James M. Bennett (2-3)-7pm-The Bulldogs are off to a 5-0 start for the first time since 2019. Then they were coached by veteran James McCormick, but this year Head Coach Nic McMorris is in just his first season. Caroline has a strong running attack and defense. They have also made some occasional plays in the air. NC is coming off a good win on the road at Queen Anne’s. They have lacked some consistency at times on offense which they are still working on whether it is eliminating penalties, improving on blocking, or limiting turnovers. Bennett is coming off a big win for the program against Parkside on a last second field goal last week. While the Clippers have shown improvement, Caroline is one of the better teams in the trenches and will have the advantage there and has enough speed and skill guys to match JMB. It will be interesting to see how competitive JMB will be in this one, but Caroline is more battle tested and the stronger team right now and should win at home.
Last Week Picks: 5-1
2023 Season Picks: 33-5