MINERS LOOK FOR WINNING SEASON IN 2017
Frostburg, MD: We have finally reached it Miner fans, late August, the end of summer, and the beginning of the 2017 Maryland High School Football season.
It's hard to believe that it has been 9 long months since the Fort Hill Sentinels took home their 4th straight Maryland Class 1A State Championship on a Saturday Afternoon in early December but it has.
One of the biggest things to happen in that time is the MPSSAA announcing new classifications for athletic years 2017 through 2019.
Although rare, several things happened in Central Maryland, and Mountain Ridge now finds itself competing back in Maryland's class 1A for the above mentioned time period.
Mountain Ridge spent 2007-2012 in this classification, before moving up to 2A in 2013, and competing there in each of the past 4 seasons.
This move may end up being beneficial for the Miners' in other sports, but could be deadly for them in football, as they join the likes of Allegany, Boonsboro, Catoctin, Fort Hill, Northern, and Smithsburg; all of which are perennial powers in football.
The obvious expectation every year for every high school football team is to win the State Championship. And if you were to ask any one associated with the Mountain Ridge football program they would tell you that is their goal in 2017.
But for a team that has not had a winning season since 2011, arguably the best team in the school's brief history, a more realistic expectation might be a winning season.
If that lofty goal is to be met, it would mean Mountain Ridge would have to fair much better than the 3-7 it did just on year ago, all while having to face the very same schedule in 2017 that they faced in 2016.
Let's take a look, game-by-game, at the Mountain Ridge Miner 2017 football schedule:
John Marshall Monarchs:
Mountain Ridge has taken the first two meetings between these two school the past two years.
It was 36 to 21 Miners in 2015 in Frostburg. This game was highlighted by a lightning delay that lasted almost 60 minutes.
The Monarchs managed to narrow the gap to 35-27 last year in Glen Dale but MR came out on top once again.
John Marshall already has one game in the books as of this article, losing to University 34-8 last week, to get their 2017 campaign underway.
University converted a punt/pass option 4th down attempt on the first possession of 2017, into a 15-play long, 7-0 lead taking, touchdown drive and never looked back Friday night.
Several John Marshall mistakes helped UHS take a 24-0 lead to the half. The Hawks took the first possession of the second half down and scored to make it 31-0 and crush any hopes of a Monarch comeback to the JM faithful.
Mountain Ridge will look to keep the unblemished record alive as they open their season on September 1st, at home, against the Monarchs.
The series history between these two schools has been quite interesting.
Mountain Ridge holds the 5 to 3 edge in the series history.
They won the first 3 meetings but have seen all three losses to the Eagles come in the past 5 seasons.
Last year, Hedgesville used a strong 4th quarter, to overcome an early deficit and squeak by the Miners' 28-25 in Frostburg.
That win over Mountain Ridge, which helped Hedgesville post a 5-5 season, likely put the Eagles over the top and into the West Virginia's class AAA playoffs.
The Eagles suffered a strong loss in preseason when Gavin Smoot suffered a season ending ACL injury.
That did not damper the Eagles spirit however. They came out of the gates strong and defeated Washington 43 to 6 in their season opener one week ago.
Mountain Ridge will look to avenge last year's defeat when they travel to Hedgesville, Friday, September 8th.
It is no secret that the two Cumberland schools are the Miners' two most fierce rivals, in any sport, especially when it comes to football.
But the Mountain Ridge/Allegany rivalry is next level, if one were to take into account the hatred on both sides of the rivalry, which only seems to exist on one side of the Mountain Ridge/Fort Hill one.
Some of that has to do with the amount of success that Mountain Ridge has had versus Alco, while not having any such success against Fort Hill, and some of it has to do with the rivalry that existed between Beall and Allegany prior to 2007.
Mountain Ridge has managed to win 3 of the first 10 meetings with Allegany since the school opened in 2007.
The Campers have won the past three meetings, including a 38-0 shutout of MR in 2016, a win that seemed to get Alco on a run that ended in a 1A West Region Championship game loss at the hands of Fort Hill.
Mountain Ridge last defeated Allegany back in 2013, snapping a 13-game losing streak that spanned two seasons, 35-21 at Greenway Avenue Stadium.
Mountain Ridge has fared pretty well against Hampshire, winning 7 of the first 10 meetings, including the last two years by a combined score of 83-48.
Last year's meeting was one that saw Mountain Ridge actually put together 48 full minutes, which is rare for the Miners' to do now-a-days, and pull away from the Trojans late, 45-20.
Hampshire's 3 wins in this series all came in a row. The Trojans defeated the Miners' in 2012, 2013 and 2014. This coincided with the downfall of the Mountain Ridge program.
West Virginia starts their season one week earlier then Maryland which means that Hampshire already has one game in the books as I am writing this article. The Trojans defeated Preston in week one to get off to a 1-0 start.
Mountain Ridge will be coming off of a two-game road trip when they come home to host Hampshire, Friday, September 22nd.
The series history between these two schools has been quite interesting to say the least.
7 of the 10 games have been decided by 21+ points. The other three have been decided by under 7 points, including one overtime game.
Mountain Ridge squeaked out a 27 to 21 win at home last year. That win for the Miners' very likely kept the Falcons out of the playoffs.
Frankfort has seemed to have a dip in the program a couple years later than Mountain Ridge has. The Miners' dip started in 2012. Frankfort has had a rough past 3 seasons.
One sure sign that this year's Frankfort team may be a bit different from the past 3 years is their convincing 47 to 7 drubbing of Moorefield in week one of the WV season.
Chestnut Ridge Lions:
The slot that Chestnut Ridge takes up on Mountain Ridge's schedule has been the wildcard slot for the Miners' since they began playing football in 2007.
Berkeley Springs occupied that slot in the first 2 years of existance, but a couple of drubbings later, the Indians said no to a contract renewal and MR was forced to come up with someone else.
Since then, this slot has seen the likes of Wheeling Central, Riverdale Baptist, Monnessen, Junianta and now Chestnut Ridge for the second straight year.
Mountain Ridge had a disappointing second half and fell to the Lions 28-19 last year at home. The only other meeting between the two schools was in 2012. That year Chestnut Ridge won 34-6.
Mountain Ridge won 5 of the first 6 meetings with the Huskies, including a revenge 2010 playoff one, avenging the only loss MR had to Northern thus far in series history.
But it has been all Huskies since then. Northern has won 4 of the last 5 meetings, with the lone MR win coming in 2013, a 26-14 win at home.
The past two years has been 72-28 Northern, including the 51-21 drubbing MR took at home last year, and the 21-7 victory the Huskies had at home in 2015.
Mountain Ridge holds the series edge 6 to 5.
Spring Mills Cardinals:
Two years ago the Southern Rams decided they needed to bolster down their schedule a bit and that meant that Mountain Ridge, which had won 7 of the 8 meetings between the schools, had to come off the schedule and that meant yet another slot that Gary Davis had to fill on the schedule.
It has turned out to be sort of a coincidence, as Spring Mills was just opening up in the Panhandle of WV, and they were looking to fill a 10-game schedule.
It's crazy how things work out sometimes. This game has turned out to be a very competitive one for each school the past two years.
Spring Mills has used strong second halves to pull away from the Miners' in each of the past two years, 26-12 in 2016, and 24-13 in 2015.
Mountain Ridge will look to end that streak when they host the Cardinals, Friday, October 20th, in Frostburg.
Fort Hill Sentinels:
4-time defending State Champion Fort Hill has occupied the Week #9 slot on Mountain Ridge's schedule each year since the school opened in 2007.
The Sentinels have won all 11 meetings between the two schools. Including the 2010 1A West Region Championship game, 25-0.
Fort Hill has dominated each meeting by outscoring MR by a total of 300+ points in the 11 meetings. The closest of which was a 16-20 regular season loss in 2010.
Mountain Ridge will look to get of the snide when they host the Sentinels in Week 9 at Miner Stadium.
Keyser Golden Tornado:
Ironically enough the Golden Tornado was one local team that did not find them selves on the original Mountain Ridge schedule back in 2007.
Both schools didn't have a common open date which meant we had to wait until 2009 to see Keyser on the Mountain Ridge schedule.
Since then the Golden Tornado have occupied the final week of the regular season each year.
Mountain Ridge won 2 of the first 3 meetings between the two schools, in 2010 and 2011, arguably the two best teams in the school's brief history.
Since 2011 Keyser has really dominated the series. Especially in the past three years, 49-7 in 2016, 55-18 in 2015, and 36-0 in 2014, all Golden Tornado convincing victories.
2017 MOUNTAIN RIDGE HIGH FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
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