Stepping onto the field Sept. 4, every team in the Bayside was an equal – undefeated to start the season with a plethora of aspirations and expectations for the fall.
While some schools were looking to just escape the basement of the conference, others were looking to redeem years past and end playoff droughts that are abundant in the South. Ten games later and one team has reached its goal of making the playoffs while others have been waiting for basketball tryouts since the first touchdown of the season.
These grades take into account the ability of the athletes compared to results, evaluating the coaching staff and where the end of this season puts the team for 2016.
James M. Bennett (7-3) — A
To make the MPSSAA playoffs over the past several seasons from the Bayside South, everything had to break in a team’s direction from health to a favorable schedule, down to a bobbled snap on an extra point. While the Clippers didn’t look like a playoff team to start the season, fumbling away at an alarming rate, they prevailed to a 4-1 start and continued winning ways in the second half of the year. No team encapsulated the word “team” as Bennett did this fall and don’t be surprised if the 4th seed in the MPSSAA 3A East upset no. 1 Reservoir on Friday.
Parkside (6-4) — C
After sweeping the South in 2014, expectations were at an all time high for the Rams in 2015 despite being in the ultra-competitive 2A East with an explosive offense that could run with the best teams in the Bayside. While the offense was tremendous, running back Trajon Branch is in discussion for Bayside South Offensive Player of the Year, it was a different story for the Parkside defense. The woes of the defense constantly forced a running offense to play out of its comfort zone in the second half. Getting the winning season is a huge program victory, but can they continue to progress in 2016 and finally crack into the 2A East Regional Playoffs where many thought they’d be this year?
Stephen Decatur (4-6) — C+
In week four of the regular season, the Seahawks made the trek to Stevensville and fell to a Kent Island football team that would go on to outscore its next six opponents 215-39 by a score of just 14-3. Fast forward to the second half of Week Eight when fourth string running back Avonte Purnell is taking snaps in the backfield against Parkside after rarely doing more than a jet sweep more than twenty minutes before at that point in the season. While at one time Decatur looked destined for a high 3A East playoff spot, it just wasn’t meant to be this year.
Wicomico (2-8) — D
There was a lot of mystery to the Tribe in August, not knowing if they would return to the former glory or continue to slip down the Bayside hierarchy. The final weeks of the year Wicomico looked to be getting the offense in shape, putting up points against strong defenses in the conference only to be too little, too late as the Indians built too big of a hole in the first half of the season to recoup. Although the team loses two standout wide receivers they were very young this fall and return a lot next year where it’ll be playoffs or bust – the juniors now know it.
Washington (1-9) — D+
Not much was expected for the Jaguars this fall under a new head coach putting a new system in place with just a few weeks until the start of the season which was evident even with the early spot points put on the board against playoff teams. As the team grabbed a hold of the offense midway through the season, Washington was able to use pure athleticism to move the chains before checking out in the final weeks against defenses that had been taken advantage of by others. If the junior laden team finds discipline and works to learn the playbook over the summer there is an opportunity to hit .500 next year.
Snow Hill (0-10) — F
The smallest football school in the state was unable to find any magic with their new coach, its third in just four years, despite promises from the coaching staff during preseason and even after a drubbing in the first week of the fall. Snow Hill proved that there were athletes on the team that were able to score at any given moment such as sophomore Amonty Allen who returned two kicks in the first half of the first game or quarterback Takhai Wise dropping dimes behind a shaky offensive line. A lot of work will be need to put in by the players and coaching staff this winter to get back to “The Eagle Way.”
Follow Justin Odendhal on Twitter at: @jmodendhal