Five Football Games to Watch: Week 1

Damascus at Quince Orchard

For the second straight year, these two Montgomery County powerhouses open the year by playing each other. Damascus won this match-up last year 39-17.

For Damascus it's a tough way to start its defense of its 2015 MPSSAA 3A state title. Quince Orchard won all of its regular season home games last year, with the closest one being a 28-7 decision against Northwest.

The last time Quince Orchard played on its field though, its 2015 season was ending. Northwest avenged its regular season loss with a 50-40 win over Quince Orchard in the 4A West regional final. Quince Orchard will look to avoid having a two game losing streak at home by starting this year with a win.

These two square off at 6:30 this Friday.

Wise at Douglass-PG

Prince George's County's most recent state champions open the season by squaring off.

Wise is coming off a perfect season in which the team went undefeated en route to its second MPSSAA 4A state championship. That included a 19-6 win over Douglass in 2015's season opener. It was the closest game Wise would play, as the team outscored opponents 590-76.

Douglass also recently won a state title, winning the 2A championship in 2014. The team had a strong 2015 campaign, finishing 7-3, but narrowly missed out on qualifying for the playoffs. What hampered Douglass in 2015 was a slow start- after losing to Wise in its opener, the team dropped its second game to Riverdale Baptist.

Douglass will look to avoid having another slow start when it hosts Wise at 2:00 PM this Saturday.

Gilman at Dunbar

Perennial state title contender Dunbar opens by hosting Gilman in an intriguing battle between two of Baltimore's most storied programs.

The Poets finished 9-3 in 2015, which included a 20-8 win over Patterson in the 2A North regional final. That would be Dunbar's final win of the season though, as the team lost in the state semifinals to eventual state champion, Patuxent.

The game against Gilman begins a tough stretch for Dunbar, which will face Mervo and Patterson to round out its first three games.

It will also be the first game for Gilman since legendary coach Biff Poggi left the program to become an advisor/associate coach at University of Michigan. Poggi coached at Gilman for 19 years, winning 13 MIAA crowns with the Greyhounds during that span.

Dunbar starts its 2016 season at 7:00 PM on Friday.

York Tech at Harford Tech

Harford Tech opens its season by competing for a brand new trophy.

Dubbed "The Battle for the Mason-Dixon Line" Harford Tech and York Tech will compete against each other in the first iteration of this rivalry on Friday. Along with bragging rights, there will be a trophy presented to the winning team after the game. The winning team will get to hold onto the trophy until the teams play again next year.

It should be an exciting start to the year for Harford Tech, which finished the 2015 season with a 5-5 record. A team which consistently plays at least one game a year against a team from outside Maryland, Harford Tech dropped its lone contest against an out of state opponent in 2015, a 24-12 decision against Tower Hill from Delaware.

The first ever Battle for the Mason-Dixon Line happens this Friday at 7:00 PM.

Middletown at Manchester Valley

Two members of the now defunct Monocacy Valley Athletic League square off in Week 1, which will represent the beginning of a new era for Manchester Valley.

The Carroll County School will be competing at the 3A level for the first time after absorbing the majority of students from its former main rival, North Carroll, which closed when school finished in June. The teams both made the playoffs last year at the 1A level and actually faced each other, with Manchester Valley winning that contest 16-0.

The newly merged school will face Middletown, which suffered a losing season in 2015, finishing 4-6. One of Middletown's wins did come against North Carroll, which was a 31-0 victory in Week 1. A program with as proud a tradition as any in the state, Middletown is looking to have its first winning season since 2013 when the Knights went undefeated and won the 2A state title.

Kickoff for this game is scheduled for 7:00 PM this Friday.
September 1st, 2016By: Wick Eisenberg

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