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Wilde Lake football upset No. 1 River Hill, 14-10, in the first round of the MPSSAA Class 3A East playoffs on Friday night. Before the season, Wildecats head coach Brian Henderson was glad with the new playoff system that doubled the amount of teams that made the postseason.
Wilde Lake football upset No. 1 River Hill, 14-10, in the first round of the MPSSAA Class 3A East playoffs on Friday night. Before the season, Wildecats head coach Brian Henderson was glad with the new playoff system that doubled the amount of teams that made the postseason. (Doug Kapustin/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Before the start of the season, first-year Wilde Lake head football coach Brian Henderson commended the MPSSAA Board of Control for doubling the amount of playoff teams.

“This has been a long time in the making,” Henderson said in August. "To finally see it happen, it’s a great opportunity. It’s really cool to see it. So now we’ll have a new opportunity to have more teams in the playoffs. In the state of Maryland, there have been some really good teams that have been left out of the playoffs in the past. This is a way to ensure all the best teams are in the playoffs.”

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On Friday, the Wildecats proved Henderson’s preseason comments true and pulled off an upset that will be remembered at Wilde Lake for years to come.

After a 2-7 regular season, No. 8 Wilde Lake stunned No. 1 River Hill, 14-10, in the first round of the MPSSAA Class 3A East playoffs. Without the new system, Wilde Lake’s rocky regular season wouldn’t have been nearly enough to grant them a playoff bid.

“The biggest thing we did was we took an honest look at ourselves and told ourselves that it was a brand new season,” Henderson said. “There were a lot of mistakes that transpired during the regular season, but we were still given an opportunity. This new playoff system benefitted us. It gave us this chance. I told them that we’re all 0-0 now, and they took that to heart.”

The playoff appearance was the Wildecats first since 2016, and the win was their first since 2010, when the Wildecats won the state championship. During the 2010 playoff run, Wilde Lake defeated River Hill, 13-7, in the second round.

Wilde Lake (3-7) scored on its first drive of the game at River Hill High School. A few plays after Wilde Lake executed a fake punt at midfield, junior quarterback Doniele Cooper connected with Justin Avinger for a 22-yard touchdown to put the Wildecats up 7-0.

River Hill (8-2) kicked a field goal in the second quarter to make the score 7-3 at halftime. Henderson took another risk to start the second half by calling an onside kick. Kicker Sam Nason executed the kick, and the Wildecats recovered. Cooper then found Avinger for another passing score — this one from 15 yards out — to put Wilde Lake up 14-3.

“We had been hot with our gambles,” Henderson said. “We had the fake punt, and that worked. We had nothing to lose.”

River Hill quarterback Keegan Remick scored on a 2-yard QB sneak later in the quarter to put the Hawks down 14-10.

Late in the fourth quarter, Wilde Lake’s defense came up big with two key stops in the final three minutes to beat River Hill, which shared the county championship after an 8-1 season and defeated Wilde Lake 41-7 in Week 5.

“The biggest credit goes to the kids and coach (Arthur) Robinson,” Henderson said. “We’ve been game planning and working hard. They fly to the ball and they’re tough. They just went out there and made plays.”

Box score

Wilde Lake 14, River Hill 10

WL — 7 0 7 0 — 14

RH — 0 3 7 0 — 10

Scoring plays:

First quarter

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WL: Doniele Cooper 22-yard pass to Justin Avinger, Sam Nason kick [7-0]

Second quarter

RH: 24-yard field goal [7-3]

Third quarter

WL: Donelle Cooper 15-yard pass to Avinger, Nason kick [14-3]

RH: Keegan Remick 2-yard run, kick good [14-10]

Glenelg 31, Century 14

Manchester Valley 14, Hammond 6

Liberty 51, Oakland Mills 13

Westminster 47, Long Reach 28

Marriotts Ridge 17, Atholton 14

The No. 3-seeded Mustangs squeaked by the No. 6-seeded Raiders in the first round of the MPSSAA Class 3A East playoffs. Marriotts Ridge defeated Atholton, 35-7, last week to win a share of its first county championship in program history, but the difference in Friday’s game was a third-quarter field goal from kicker Evan Bury. Zach Bedell ran for the Mustangs’ first touchdown, and Casey Pung connected with James Tolle for their second score. Marriotts Ridge (8-2) will play at No. 2 Westminster (8-2) in the second round next week.

Box score:

A — 0 7 7 0 — 14

MR — 7 7 3 0 — 17

VOLLEYBALL:

Westminster def. Reservoir 3-0 (25-21, 25-18, 25-12)

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