Week 5 HS Football Thoughts and Observations

by Greg Swatek. 0 Comments

Sorry for another really late post, folks. Circumstances intervened. Again, I’ll work to do better on this and be more timely going forward.

Week 5 certainly didn’t provide much drama as every Frederick County game was decided by at least 11 points. Nearly all of them finished with significantly higher margins than that.

The biggest takeaway from the week might have been the closet game. That’s Oakdale’s 35-26 road win over Thomas Johnson as the Bears once again climb over .500 at 3-2. It’s arguably the biggest win in school history for the Bears and it comes against one of their closest neighbors. Their previous wins came against struggling teams whose records were not that great.  TJ, on the other hand, was 3-1 and playing fairly well, discounting the previous week’s blowout loss at Linganore. The Patriots have plenty of playmakers and plenty of ways to beat you. They are the only team to beat South Hagerstown this season and they did it by a significant margin. But they couldn’t find the answer against Oakdale. The game was not nearly as close as the final score indicated as TJ scored three touchdowns in the final 14 minutes, with backup quarterback Alex Mason providing the spark, to significantly close the gap.

In the last two weeks, the Bears have taken unbeaten Urbana down to the wire and thumped a one-loss TJ team. They seem to be improving and gaining confidence rapidly by the week. Now they find themselves in playoff contention in the Class 2A West region. They have to keep finding ways to win and the schedule doesn’t make it easy, starting this week with unbeaten Linganore.

TJ, meanwhile, suddenly finds itself on a slippery slope after a 3-0 start. Turnovers have increased dramatically in each of the last two weeks. The overall play has been sloppy. The Patriots have to find a way to pull it together, starting this week against Walkersville, which hung around for most of last week’s game against Urbana, before the season completely gets away. There is still plenty of time to turn things around. But they have to act fast.

Middletown went to Tuscarora last week and once again doused the upset hopes of another upstart with a 27-0 victory over the previously unbeaten Titans. Penalties on Middletown were the only thing preventing the score from being more lopsided. The Knights just have so many ways and so many players that can beat you. Even if one facet of their game is not working well on a particular night, chances are some other facets will be and they will be enough for a win. The scary thing for opponents is Middletown doesn’t feel it has played close to its best football yet. The Knights believe they can and will get better. Even the self-inflicted mistakes, like the penalties, weren’t enough to really hurt them against Tuscarora. They are now 5-0 and winners of 27 straight games dating back to October of 2011. They host 1-4 Frederick this week.

The Titans, on the other hand, will learn from the experience. With wins in each of their first four games, they were off to their best start since 2005. But they had yet to play a team the caliber of Middletown. Still, Tuscarora is in great position to have a great season and reach the playoffs for the second time in school history. They face another big test this week at Urbana in finding a way to slow the Hawks’ dynamic junior running back, Ray Gray.

Gray was held to his lowest yardage output of the season last week in a 42-24 victory at Walkersville and he still finished with 186 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries. It’s the first time he was held under 250 yards this season. He now has 1,239 yards and 11 touchdowns through five games. The Hawks have enough playmakers to win any game they play. But their run defense is becoming a bigger concern. They surrendered 343 yards on the ground to Walkersville and have several run-heavy teams left on their schedule. Tuscarora has a pair of backs in seniors Micah Anderson and Shane Markward that might give them fits this week.

Walkersville (1-4), meanwhile, will look to get back on track this week against Thomas Johnson.

Linganore continued to look like one of the most complete teams in the county in a 52-6 road win over Frederick. The defense accounted for three touchdowns for the Lancers as linebacker Mike Pirolli returned two fumbles for touchdowns in the span of a minute and defensive back Josh Gontarek returned an interception 17 yards for a score. Linganore will look to keep rolling this week against Oakdale.

Catoctin posted its first shutout since 2011 with a 28-0 home win over 2A West rival Poolesville, which had beaten the Cougars in each of the last two seasons. It was, perhaps, Catoctin’s most-complete game of the season. And Brunswick struggled to move the ball consistently in a 38-0 loss at Boonsboro.

Credit also goes to St. John’s Catholic Prep, which won its fifth straight game Friday with a 39-14 victory over Baltimore’s Friends School. The Vikings (5-1) look to continue their march to the MIAA C Conference playoffs this week against Annapolis Area Christian. It will be the third consecutive road game for St. John’s Catholic Prep, which returns home next week to face Our Lady of Mount Carmel out of Baltimore.





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