On paper, they are tied for second place in the Prince George's 4A league. They have a significant lead in the chase for the final playoff berth in the Maryland 4A South Region. And they are on a six-game winning streak, outscoring opponents 261-20 during the stretch.
But for the Bowie Bulldogs, Saturday provides the chance to find out where they stand -- and at least in their eyes -- begin to earn credit they feel they deserve.
While the Bulldogs have been winning -- the winning streak is their longest since their Maryland 4A championship season in 2001 -- they have yet to beat one of the county's top teams. A victory over any of their three remaining opponents -- Saturday against No. 6 Douglass or in coming weeks against Eleanor Roosevelt and Suitland -- could change perceptions.
"This is our test," first-year coach Jae Jackson said of Saturday's game. "Let's see if we're going to stay in the middle of the pack or if we're going to try to step up and be one of the top teams."
Led by quarterback Sean Alston and running back Jason Randall, Bowie (6-1, 5-1 league) is crushing its opponents. A 20-0 victory over Laurel on a muddy field this past Saturday was the first time the Bulldogs failed to reach the 35-point mercy rule and get a running clock.
"We're beating teams by scores we should be beating them by," Jackson said. "Still, I don't think people give us credit or give us respect. The kids feel we have something to prove."
There is no better chance than Saturday. Douglass (7-0, 7-0) has outscored its opponents 250-20 and seems headed for the Prince George's 4A title in its first season in the league.
In the Prince George's 3A/2A league on Saturday, Central plays at Surrattsville in a meeting of the county's only teams to have never qualified for the playoffs, something that almost certainly will not change this season. Central is winless, but Surrattsville appears to be improving, led by quarterback Andre Johnson.
In a nonleague game, Friendly continues to try for a playoff berth when it hosts Calvert Hall on Friday. Calvert Hall (4-3) defeated Northwestern, 38-0, earlier this season, but lost to Gwynn Park and Douglass last season.
-- JOSH BARR