WILDECATS, SCORPIONS EDGE TOWARD DUEL

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Gridiron talk:

No offense to the rest of the league, but could we fast-forward the high school football schedule to Nov. 10? That's the day Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills are expected to butt helmets for the county championship.

The Wildecats and the Scorpions solidified their position as the class of the county Saturday. Wilde Lake avenged last season's last-second 14-8 loss to Baltimore County's Perry Hall with a 28-7 victory over the Gators.

Oakland Mills hurdled a huge obstacle by beating defending 3A state champ Linganore (Frederick County) 13-7, in a thrilling double-overtime affair that ended in a scoreless tie after regulation play.

"One of the best high school games I've ever been a part of," said Oakland Mills coach Ken Klock.

The Scorpions and Wildecats improved their records to 2-0. Oakland Mills rounds out its rough non-league schedule at home against Anne Arundel County power South River Saturday (1 p.m.), while the Wildecats will entertain Southern of Harwood (Anne Arundel) at 1:30.

Oakland Mills' defense didn't miss a beat from its 21-0 opening-game shutout of Calvert Hall. The Scorpions held Linganore to 52 yards total offense, and didn't allow Linganore to drive into Oakland Mills territory.

Korey Singleton (three solo tackles, eight assists, one interception) led the way. Defensive linemen Calvin Claggs and Monte Spencer also have seven assists apiece.

Singleton also put the Scorpions' offense over the hump by scoring both touchdowns in overtime, which became necessary after Oakland Mills kicker Ty Wilkins missed a 27-yard field goal with 10 seconds left in regulation.

In each overtime of high school games, the teams get the ball at their opponent's 10-yard line with four downs to score.

Singleton (13 carries, 65 yards) put Oakland Mills on top with a one-yard run. Wilkins kicked the extra point to make it 7-0. Linganore came right back to tie the score. Singleton ended the Scorpion's next possession with another one-yard touchdown. Then, on Linganore's last chance to tie -- a fourth down from the 10 -- Kelly Sykes sacked Linganore halfback John Musselman on an attempted option pass play.

The Scorpions' defense also covered up for a sloppy performance by the Oakland Mills offense, which gained 170 yards but lost four fumbles. The offense was also without quarterback Joe Coughlan, who will miss one more game with a fractured foot before he's expected to return for the county opener against Atholton.

Wilde Lake's offense started in high gear 11 days ago, when the Wildecats rolled over Harford County's Havre de Grace, 48-2.

Saturday against a much tougher Perry Hall team -- and without quarterback Phil White and noseguard Tony Farace, who were suspended for being involved in an altercation at a school dance the week before -- Wilde Lake took a little longer to get rolling, but the results read similarly.

Wilde Lake outscored Perry Hall 21-0 in the second half.

Running back Raphael Wall scored more early-season Player of the Year points with another fine display. He rushed for 191 yards, including the first three Wilde Lake touchdowns, two on runs of 25 and 20 yards. He's rushed for 398 yards in his first two games.

After two games, fans are already anticipating the Nov. 10 showdown, and why shouldn't they? Both teams are loaded with size and speed, their defenses have each surrendered just one touchdown in the first two weeks and the Wildecats-Scorpions rivalry is as alive as ever.

"There's already a little Wilde Lake graffiti on the wall over here," said Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet. "And Eddie Ashwell (Wilde Lake defensive coach) has already called me up and started cussing at me on the phone."

* Although it is shaping up as a two-team race, don't expect the rest of the league to be uninteresting this fall. Already, the other locals are disproving that notion.

Witness Mount Hebron (1-1) quarterback Nathan Kealey, who scored the Vikings' first touchdown in Saturday's 16-0 victory over Perryville, then finished the job with an incredible 55-yard field goal. It is believed to be a state record.

Then there's Glenelg (1-1) wide receiver Juan Dorsey, who caught three passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Mike D'Andrea (6-for-13, 121 yards) in the Gladiators' 36-6 victory over Riverdale Baptist. And let's not forget Atholton (1-1) kicker Joe Yankle, who hit a 19-yard field goal with 40 seconds left to lift Atholton to a 9-6 victory.

Howard, which took a 21-14 opening victory from Parkville thanks to big plays from defensive back John Finney, receiver Elery McTavish and quarterback Dave Doy, got another big lift from Doy on Saturday, albeit in a losing effort. His 73-yard touchdown strike to Ermundo Russell wasn't quite enough to get the Lions past Pallotti (Prince George's County), which prevailed, 21-14.

* Even Centennial and Hammond, both losers last Friday, didn't go down without impressing. The Eagles, who opened with a 35-13 victory over North Harford, nearly ruined South Carroll's home opener but literally let the chance slip away -- to the tune of four first-half turnovers -- as South Carroll won 19-6.

Centennial moved the ball extremely well on the ground against a bigger South Carroll defense at the outset.

The Eagles' first drive ended on the South Carroll 45 when Mike Rainwater fumbled. Its second drive, a 75-yard beauty in which the Eagles needed 11 running plays to reach the Cavaliers' 6, ended when quarterback Sam Yurko overthrew his receiver and was intercepted in the end zone.

Then, in the second quarter, after Centennial recovered a South Carroll fumble at the Cavaliers 27, Rainwater lost the ball on the 1. The Eagles defense promptly forced a punt, but the Eagles fumbled the kick and gave the ball right back to South Carroll.

From there, the Cavaliers caught fire and drove 66 yards in seven plays to take a 6-0 lead. South Carroll then opened the second half with a six-minute, 14-play, 80-yard march to make it 12-0. The Cavaliers never looked back.

"I really believe if we don't give the ball away, we win it," said first-year Centennial coach Ed Holshue. "We played a quality team Friday night. We're getting there, but we can't be giving games away."

Sean West led Centennial with 75 yards on eight carries. Yurko rushed for 42 yards on six carries and scored the lone Eagles touchdown.

The other Eagles star of the night was 6-foot, 200-pound senior kicker/punter Brian Reid. He hit punts of 56 and 51 yards -- the latter of which was downed at the South Carroll 1-yard line -- and opened the second half with a kickoff that sailed out of the South Carroll end zone.

The toughest loss of the week was absorbed by Hammond, the county's only winless team which fell to 0-2 for the first time in seven years.

The Golden Bears whipped Chesapeake on the line of scrimmage, collecting 235 yards between fullback Marc Salerno and halfback Omar Williams, but Hammond committed four turnovers, five first-half penalties and had a 93-yard TD run by Williams called back in the fourth quarter because of a questionable clipping penalty. Chesapeake (Baltimore County) won 14-12.

The most frustrating moment of a maddening day for Hammond coach Joe Russo came at the end of the third quarter, after Salerno (113 yards on 14 carries) pulled Hammond to within 14-12. On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Williams (123 yards on 24 carries) was stopped on the 1 on a play that was designed for Salerno to carry the ball.

"I was ready to kick anything in my sight," said Russo, who was livid on the sideline following the miscommunication in the Hammond huddle. "It's the difference between winning and losing the game.

"The bottom line is we didn't come up with the big play when we needed it, but we kept coming up with the stupid mistake when we didn't need it.

Yeah, I'm kind of disturbed."

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