Lightning out for another playoff strike in 2019

Elijah Saunders, a Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 pick, is among the returnees for Long Reach. The Lightning went 7-4 last season. (photo – Israel Carunungan)

With practice for the 2019 high school football season a few days away, Varsity Sports Network’s Derek Toney takes a look at the regular season itinerary for select area teams.

Long Reach Lightning

2018 record: 7-4 (Class 3A East Region semifinalist)

Overview: The Lightning reached the 3A state playoffs, losing to James M. Bennett in the opening round.  The Columbia school may have Howard County’s best offense with senior quarterback Jose Ribalta, senior tight end Elijah Saunders, junior wideout Chris Martin and sophomore running back Julius Saunders back.

Toughest 2019 opponent: River Hill. The Hawks could be the favorite to dethrone the Gladiators in Howard County. The Clarksville school returns arguably the area’s top public senior in Beau Brade, who’s committed to the University of Maryland, along with senior running back Jordan Perry and junior linebacker Zach Igwebe.

Most intriguing 2019 opponent: Glenelg. The Gladiators reached their first state championship game (2A) and won the Howard County championship. Glenelg will look to tight end/defensive end Drew Stoka, a Baltimore Touchdown Club Super 22 pick, senior running back Kyle Dry and kicker Chris Retzbach and junior linemen Keith Pak.

By a number: 23. Victories by Long Reach over past three seasons (4 total wins over three seasons prior).

2019 schedule

Sept. 6 at Woodlawn (7-3)

Sept. 13 at Reservoir (4-6)

Sept. 20 vs. Marriotts Ridge (4-6)

Sept. 27 vs. Atholton (2-8)

Oct. 4 at Oakland Mills (7-4)

Oct. 11 at River Hill (8-4)

Oct. 19 vs. Wilde Lake (6-4)

Oct. 25 at Howard (9-2)

Nov. 1 vs. Glenelg (13-1)