Maryland opens its high school football season tonight

Sep. 1—The Maryland high school football season opens tonight for three area schools, with two more set to play one another on Saturday.

Allegany hosts Hollidaysburg (Pennsylvania), and Mountain Ridge visits Southern this evening. Both games kick off at 7 p.m.

On Saturday, Fort Hill welcomes Northern to Greenway Avenue Stadium for a 7 p.m. kick-off.

The Campers figure to have their hands full after Hollidaysburg outlasted rival Altoona, 21-13, last Friday night. They needed a last-second field goal by Blake Powell to beat the Golden Tigers, 26-23, last season.

"They're big, they play that spread style of football, so you're always a blown coverage away from giving up something," Allegany head coach Bryan Hansel said. "It's going to be nice to get them down here.

"We'll see how our athletes match up. I think that our style of offense, compared to what we ran last year, is completely different. ... I'd like to see how they defend us. We know they're going to be well-coached."

Both teams return the bulk of their rosters.

Hollidaysburg started a bevy of sophomores last year and boasts a junior class of 28 players. The Golden Tigers lost quarterback Tucker Rossman to graduation, but senior Drew Wyland (6-foot-3, 161 pounds) looked the part in his debut.

Wyland completed 8 of 10 passes for 103 yards and threw an interception. He had 19 carries or 179 yards and three scores.

The Golden Tigers battled through injuries and a tough schedule to finish 2-8 in 2022.

"Last year, we had a really good game with them," Hollidaysburg head coach Homer DeLattre said in an interview with the Altoona Mirror. "They kicked a field goal to beat us in the last minute and half or so. Both teams return the large majority of their teams.

"They have 17 seniors and are returning mostly all their starters from last year. They were 7-4, and Cumberland, Maryland, has some really good football between Allegany and Fort Hill, and it's definitely going to be a tough place to play."

Two-time Class 1A runner up Mountain Ridge heads to Garrett County in a Western Maryland Athletic Conference showdown with Southern, and if history is any indication, that's bad news for the Rams.

Mountain Ridge has outscored Southern a combined 153-7 in its last two season openers, including an 84-0 rout in Oakland in 2021 — believed to be the most one-sided game in state history.

It will be the first start of Will Patterson's career as the Miners' quarterback.

"He's such a leader," Mountain Ridge head coach Ryan Patterson said of his new QB. "He has embraced his role as quarterback and his leadership position on this team. He's worked really hard at it. He is, I'm sure, going to meet our expectations."

It likely won't be an ideal beginning to new Southern head coach Steve Skipper's tenure, but that won't get him discouraged.

"We're not going to come out and win football games right off the bat, but we can start to be competitive," Skipper said. "Once we close that gap, we can get to a point where we're in a tight ball game where we can find a way to win it, and the momentum starts to roll."

Two-time defending Class 1A state champion Fort Hill opens its slate at home against Northern on Saturday, and the Sentinels know not to overlook a Phil Carr-coached squad.

The last time the Huskies invaded Greenway Avenue Stadium in 2021, Fort Hill, which finished 12-0, won a tight 17-7 battle.

"They're a quality team," Fort Hill head coach Zack Alkire said. "Phil does a good job with what he has. They always have low numbers, and we found out in COVID that when you don't have the numbers, it's hard to get better.

"Phil will have those kids ready to go, and if we're not ready to play it'll be a game. I just hope that our size up front will be too much for them and our running backs get north and south."

Northern finished last season 5-6 and won a home playoff game for the second year in a row.

Both Fort Hill and Northern lost much of their production in the backfield from last year, with the Sentinels losing Mikey Allen, Tavin Willis and Tanner Wertz to graduation and Northern needing to replace Ethan Sebold and Kellen Hinebaugh.

The game Saturday, however, will likely be won in the trenches.

"We want to go down and not make it easy for them," Carr said. "At times last year we did a pretty good job but gave up too many big plays. ... We just want to make it so they have to earn everything.

"Can we line up and go toe-to-toe with their size? Probably not, so we'll have to take some risks and do some things ... you wouldn't see us do in other games."

Alex Rychwalski is a sports reporter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.