The buzzwords surrounding this year's Western Tech football team are "breakthrough season."
With 15 returning players and more star quality than any of the program's previous five years, the Wolverines know the time is now.
Whether Western Tech is a legitimate contender for the Baltimore County 1A-2A League title remains to be seen, but the Wolverines did little to discount those beliefs with a 26-6 victory yesterday at Overlea.
Western Tech senior quarterback Tom Smith threw three touchdown passes and the Wolverines defense turned in its best effort of the season by holding the Falcons (4-2, 3-2) to just 12 of their 122 total yards in the second half and forcing four turnovers.
"Our effort on defense was huge. And in the end, turnovers decide a game, and fortunately, we didn't have any and they had four," said Western Tech coach Jason Blind, whose team can set a school record for wins -- six -- next week against Hereford.
The Wolverines (5-1, 4-1) constantly harassed Overlea quarterback Zach Sergotick, who threw three interceptions, and with their running game nonexistent, the Falcons' offensive frustration showed in two unsportsmanlike penalties.
"The defensive line got a lot of penetration and we knew if we put enough pressure on their quarterback, good things would happen," said defensive tackle Joe Dominick.
The victories only tell part of the story for Western Tech. With each game, the Wolverines have shown positive strides and there's a renewed confidence among the players after several down years.
"The pressure of each game is a little less for us, but we still must continue to practice hard each week and do what we can do," Smith said.
Holding Western Tech's speedy wide receiver Joe Cromwell to four catches and one touchdown fit nicely with the Falcons' defensive game plan. Having the Wolverines' Michael Goodwin catch two long touchdown passes did not.
For the second straight game, Overlea's secondary allowed big plays as Goodwin scored on touchdown receptions of 58 and 20 yards to put Western Tech ahead, 20-6, after three quarters. Cromwell finished the scoring with a diving catch in the end zone on a 31-yard touchdown pass from Smith with 4: 02 left.
"Goodwin's done a great job of making big plays because teams are favoring Cromwell so much," Blind said.
Said Overlea coach Terry Ward: "Our problems in the secondary showed up again."
Sergotick's 24-yard touchdown pass to Kelly Motley pulled Overlea within 7-6 just before halftime. But on the Wolverines' ensuing possession, Goodwin beat both Darrell Tunstan and Sergotick deep down the left side for his first touchdown catch and a 14-6 lead for Western Tech at intermission.
But the Falcons' defense had little chance in the second half as Overlea suffered turnovers on each of its first three possessions.
The Falcons twice stopped the Wolverines on fourth down but Western Tech finally cashed in after Jerome Butler's interception return of 16 yards to Overlea's 23. Two plays later, Smith hit Goodwin for a 20-yard touchdown pass and Western Tech led, 20-6.
"We had problems picking up their stunts and we didn't have any continuity on offense," Ward said.
Overlea's final three possessions went for minus-17 yards.