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The final week of the regular high school football season is upon us and up to five Harford County teams could get into the state playoffs, a respectable number indeed.

Three teams, North Harford in 3A, Fallston in 2A and Havre de Grace in 1A, appear to be locks for the playoffs. Patterson Mill can secure a 1A berth with a win over Rising Sun. Bel Air’s revived program needs some help to get into the 2A playoffs. The Bobcats, who are 5-4, play winless Aberdeen; however, they also need losses by North Caroline and Wicomico to have a shot. (My thanks to colleague Dewey Fox for researching the ins and outs on these games for me.)

All that stands between the North Harford Hawks and a perfect regular season and a top seed in the region is Friday’s home contest with Elkton. That’s quite an accomplishment in itself, and I’m sure most of us are rooting for coach Ken Brinkman’s club to go far in the playoffs. I want to give a shout out to my former Aegis colleague Pete Schlehr, who is a member of the North Harford JV staff and was our sports editor when I joined the staff here a long, long time ago. In fact, if memory serves me correctly, Pete was the first person I met when I showed up at The Aegis back in 1972 inquiring about possible job openings.

Of course, the big game this final week pits 7-2 Havre de Grace at 8-1 Fallston Friday evening, a contest which presumably will be more than one of those typical Warrior-Cougar death matches of speed versus power, as both teams are particularly well balanced this year. Neither school is likely to improve its playoff seeding position in their respective classes — the Warriors sit second behind Bo Manor and the Cougars sit third behind Queen Anne’s and Kent Island, who are both undefeated and have big points leads. Still, there will be plenty of bragging rights at stake for two schools who tend not to like each other much, especially when it comes to playing football.

We haven’t had a state football champion in Harford County since 2003 when Aberdeen and Joppatowne, led respectively by Erin Henderson and Jeremy Navarre, won the 2A and 1A titles. For one county to have two champions in a single season is quite a feat in my estimation. Joppatowne has twice been close to a title since, including last year when the Mariners were undefeated going into their championship loss to Catoctin.

Let’s aim high this playoff season and say we’ll get three!

I’m sure there are plenty of Penn State alums in Harford County (and I know of at least one former player) who are stoked about Saturday’s game in State College where Coach Joe Paterno will be going for his 400th career win, a milestone that has never been approached in college football. Paterno took over as head of the Penn State program the fall I entered college and, being a Pennsylvania native, I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him and have often rooted for his teams.

That won’t be the case Saturday because unfortunately the Nittany Lions will be playing my alma mater, Northwestern, in what turns out to be a pivotal game for each team’s season as they are tied in the middle of a Big Ten race that is still wide open. I’d be more than happy to see Joe Pa’s 400th win come a bit later in the season, preferably against Michigan State.

I don’t know how many of you deserted the Colts-Texans game Monday night for what turned out to be the last game of the World Series, but I watched the final inning or so. Congrats to the Giants and their fans, who have obviously been waiting a long time for this one. The Giants, who seem to have more retread players than any series winner I can remember, used those retreads’ experience — much of it in big games — and their outstanding pitching to make the powerful Rangers look like they belonged in the National League, instead of the other way around.

Clearly Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgardner, Wilson and the rest of the Giants’ pitching was the equal of Antonelli, Janson, Gomez, Grissom and Wilhelm in 1954. And the clutch work of Renteria and Uribe in particular must have left the late Dusty Rhodes, who’s only been dead less than a year and a half, smiling somewhere. I wonder if it will be another 56 years until the next Giants championship.


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