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  • Writer's pictureSheldon Shealer

Riverdale Baptist's debut is a rare surprise

Quite honesty, high school football in Maryland is quite predictable.

There are 10 or so public schools and 10 private schools that seem to annually dominate the scene. And even games among state-ranked teams play out as expected. Take for instance this past weekend. No. 1 Good Counsel handled No. 18 Mount St. Joseph 38-8, No. 4 Archbishop Spalding pulled away late for a 31-14 win over No. 19 McDonogh and No. 9 Oakdale ended the lengthy regular-season win streak of No. 24 Frederick by a 28-16 margin.

In fact, it gets so predictable that from week to week, there's little movement in the rankings.

Then there's Riverdale Baptist.

The Crusaders, long known for a powerhouse baseball program, caught nearly everyone off guard with a 16-10 win over then No. 10 Calvert Hall. The result helped Riverdale Baptist debut at No. 20 this week. And when I say debut, I'm not talking about this year -- I'm talking about EVER.

Before this week, Riverdale Baptist had never before appeared in the Top 25. Not when current head coach and former NFL player Olandis Gary produced a record-setting career at Riverdale nor when the team went 10-0 in 2013. Yes, Riverdale Baptist has received votes here and there, but this is truly a first. And it's part of a private school turnaround in a way we are seeing in high school football these days.

Riverdale Baptist was 2-7 last year. This year, the team is 2-1 with only a close loss to No. 16 Bishop McNamara as the lone blemish. A few key transfers and one big win, and just like that, Riverdale goes from receiving one vote last week to No. 20 this week.

That's truly a surprise.

But that's the only one. The first nine teams remain in the same order as last week with Good Counsel and DeMatha leading the way at Nos. 1 and 2. Twenty-four of the 25 teams from last week remain in the Top 25. The lone exception was Frederick falling out to make way for Riverdale Baptist.

Looking ahead, No. 5 Archbishop Spalding faces No. 24 Calvert Hall and No. 13 Loyola Blakefield takes on No. 19 Mount St. Joseph in a pair of key MIAA A Conference clashes with state-ranking implications. No. 1 Good Counsel faces a Stone Bridge (Va.) team that is coming off a dramatic final-second loss to Quince Orchard. The Good Counsel-Stone bridge result will be a key measuring stick between the top private and public school teams in Maryland.

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