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Maryland high school football notebook (9/14/2023)

Northwest is back among Maryland's public school elite programs; Carter takes over Dunbar program on interim basis; Games to Watch and this week's State Media Top 25 rankings
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After a disappointing and tumultuous season last fall, Northwest High appears to be back among Maryland’s elite public squads.

The Jaguars are off to a 2-0 start, including an impressive 47-14 decision over reigning Class 3A state champ Damascus over the weekend. The win avenged a 34-28 loss in the 2022 regular season opener.

The Montgomery County school posted its first losing season (5-6) in more than a decade in 2022, highlighted by a brawl with league rival Gaithersburg in Week 3. The Jaguars coaching staff and Gaithersburg’s athletic director were relieved of their duties by the Montgomery County school system because of the incident.

Warner “Bucky” Clipper, a Northwest graduate and former assistant who’s been on six state-title winning staffs in Montgomery (Damascus and Sherwood), was hired in January. The Jaguars have outscored their first two opponents, 94-14.

Junior quarterback David Davis has accounted for 334 yards and six touchdowns, and senior Tony Berry is averaging 150 all-purpose yards through the first two games. Senior linebacker Christian Idoma leads the defense with 14 tackles.

Northwest, which won back-to-back 4A state titles in 2013 and 2014, again looks prime to challenge two-time reigning 4A champ Quince Orchard in Montgomery County. The Jaguars are the last team to beat Quince Orchard, which has won 30 straight and 42 of its last 43 since 2019.

Michael Carter named Dunbar interim coach

Dunbar defensive coordinator Michael Carter has been promoted to head coach, on an interim basis, following last week’s arrest of longtime coach Lawrence Smith.

Carter, who has served as Poets defensive coordinator for nearly a decade, previously coached tight ends at Morgan State University.

Smith, who’s been Dunbar's head coach since 2007, was arrested by the FBI and charged with overtime fraud and tax evasion. Smith, who works as a police detective for the Baltimore City Public School System, was believed to be the subject of an FBI probe last year when agents visited the school headquarters to investigate timecard irregularities and overtime fraud.

At the time, no charges were filed and Smith went on to lead Dunbar to its second consecutive Class 2A/1A state championship (14-0). Smith, an assistant who took over for Ben Eaton after the latter died of a heart attack before the start of the 2007 campaign, is 173-25 in 16 seasons.

The Poets (0-0) have yet to play an official game. Last Friday, Dunbar’s game at Dunbar (D.C.) was canceled due to weather. On Sept. 1, the Poets’ season-opening match with Loyola Blakefield was stopped late in the first half after gunfire erupted across the street from their home field.

Dunbar is scheduled to play Sept. 13 at Baltimore Polytechnic.

Maryland's top high school football games to watch in Week 3

Archbishop Spalding (2-1) at McDonogh (2-0): Spalding begins defense of its MIAA A Conference championship against the Eagles, who are the last MIAA A team to defeat the Cavaliers (2021 A semifinals).

Roman Catholic (PA) vs. DeMatha (2-0) at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex, Landover, MD: After their game with Northern Virginia powerhouse Freedom was canceled due to weather last weekend, Stags look to reach 3-0 for the first time since 2016 against undefeated Philadelphia private squad (3-0).

Good Counsel (1-1) at Mount St. Joseph (2-1): The state top-ranked Falcons travel to Baltimore to face a Gael team they’ve outscored, 158-47, in the previous four meetings.

Oakdale (2-0) at Frederick (2-0): Frederick County foes renew their rivalry in this matchup of state Top 25 squads.

Bishop McNamara (3-0) at Moody (AL): The Mustangs, off to a solid start under first-year coach Greg Calhoun, head south for a matchup with undefeated Alabama (3-0) squad, featuring Auburn commit A’mon Lane.

Few changes in Maryland High School Football Media State Poll

For the second straight week, Good Counsel is No. 1 in the Maryland High School Football State Poll.

The Falcons (1-1), whose match last weekend with Life Christian Academy (VA) was canceled due to weather, received eight first-place votes. DeMatha Catholic and St. Frances remained No. 2 and No. 3, respectively.

Rounding out the Top 5 is Quince Orchard (2-0) and Archbishop Spalding (2-1), who switch places from last week. Northwest is the biggest mover in the poll, going from the 25th spot to No. 16 after routing then-No. 15 Damascus. Damascus, the defending Class 3A state champions, fell 10 places to No. 25.

Here is this week's complete Maryland High School Football Media State Poll:

Rank, School, Record, Points, Last week’s rank

1. Good Counsel (8 first place votes), 1-1, 296, 1

2. DeMatha (4), 2-0, 292, 2

3. St. Frances Academy, 0-4, 272, 3

4. Quince Orchard, 2-0, 263, 5

5. Archbishop Spalding, 2-1, 256, 4

6. Flowers, 2-0, 238, 7

7. Rock Creek Christian, 1-2, 221, 6

8. Wise, 1-1, 214, 8

9. Oakdale, 2-0, 202, 9

10. Calvert Hall, 2-1, 191, 10

11. Concordia Prep, 2-1, 182, 13

12. Georgetown Prep, 2-0, 170, 14

13. Milford Mill Academy, 1-1, 157, 11

14. North Point, 2-0, 139, 16

15. Loyola Blakefield, 0-1, 126, 12

16. Northwest, 2-0, 117, 25

17. Bishop McNamara, 3-0, 109, 19

18. Mount St. Joseph, 2-1, 99, 18

19. McDonogh, 2-0, 81, 20

20. Broadneck, 1-1, 64, 21

21. Dunbar, 0-0, 59, 17

22. Northern-Calvert, 2-0, 52, 24

23. Fort Hill, 2-0, 52, 22

24. Frederick, 2-0, 28, 23

25. Damascus, 1-1, 14, 15

Others receiving votes: Patuxent (2-0, 6 points), Calvert (2-0, 5), Bullis School (1-0, 3), St. Mary's-AA (0-1, 2), Linganore (2-0, 1), Mountain Ridge (2-0, 1), Riverdale Baptist (1-1, 1).