River Hill and Loyola state cases for No. 1
No. 1 River Hill won again Friday night, crushing No. 12 Marriotts Ridge, 41-0, to improve its record to 7-0.
No. 2-ranked Loyola won Saturday afternoon, 20-7, over No. 6 Mount St. Joseph. The Dons' starting quarterback Leon Kinnard put his team up 7-0 on a 7-yard run before leaving the game with a broken leg.
It will be interesting to see what happens now with Loyola. Will the Dons continue to win by dominating their opposition? And, if they do, will the debate over who is really the best team in the area -- River Hill or Loyola -- intensify?
The debate has raged for two seasons now.
A year ago, it was River Hill No. 1 and Dunbar No. 2, but Dunbar was often said to have a tougher schedule than River Hill. Both teams finished undefeated.
This season, with River Hill ranked No. 1 and Loyola No. 2, it's the same argument.
Loyola plays in the very well-respected Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association, while River Hill competes in Howard County, which is deemed not to be as competitive from top to bottom as the MIAA.
But River Hill just keeps winning -- and winning big. The Hawks have lost just one game in their last 35. And at River Hill, the Hawks work just as hard in their practices as any other team and put up big numbers to back up their claims. The 41 points they scored against The Baltimore Sun's No. 12-ranked team was their smallest score this season, but the game wasn't close.
At practice, the day before playing Marriotts Ridge, junior right tackle Max Coale admitted the debate and the seeming lack of respect for the Hawks is getting to be a little frustrating.
"We can only play as hard as we can play," Coale said. "If people don't believe in us, OK. We do. We'd love to play Loyola."
Last season, the only close game River Hill had, the only game in which it did not lead from start to finish, was the state championship game it won by seven points against Eastern Tech, currently ranked No. 5.
"That win felt so good," Coale said. "We got behind and even our fans wondered if we had enough spirit to get back up on the horse."
The Hawks had the spirit and if Coale is any example, they haven't lost any of it this season.
"We work our tails off," he said. "We deserve respect because we work our tails off to get it."
Loyola does, too. The debate will continue.
-- Sandra McKee