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Region champ Wilde Lake resembles its '97 state title team

The Baltimore Sun

Asked for a comparison, Wilde Lake football coach Doug DuVall quickly likened this year's team - which will play in the Class 3A state semifinal game Friday - to the 1997 state champion Wildecats.

"Yeah, very similar [to ] the team that won in 1997 - a lot of balance and they play like crazy for each other," he said.

After a sturdy 26-6 win at North Harford to win the East region, the Wildecats (10-2) will meet Damascus in the state semifinal game at 7 p.m. Friday at M&T; Bank Stadium.

The 1997 team, which captured the program's fifth and most recent state title, had a versatile two-way player in Danny "Sparky" Bayron, who, at 5-foot-10, played fullback, linebacker and safety during his career and, more importantly, set the tone with his leadership and inspired play.

DuVall has seen the same kind of play from 5-7, 150-pound junior quarterback/cornerback/punt returner Danny March this season.

"He's been a one-man band for us," DuVall said. "He's not a big guy, he just plays hard and has the athletic ability. Very few kids can play quarterback and also be the team's best defensive back, responsible for covering the other team's top wide receiver."

March has run for 478 yards and three touchdowns and also thrown for seven scores. On defense, he leads the team with five interceptions. He's also an effective punt returner and, if he had his way, he'd also be returning kickoffs. But DuVall has been adamant about giving him a breather over the course of a game.

March enjoys all the different hats and the responsibility that comes with them.

"As a quarterback, it's my role to pump everybody up and keep everybody focused on what we have to do. Everybody depends on you - I love that role," he said.

March is just one option of many in a backfield that is both deep and multidimensional. He can hand off to Ashton Hayes (1,256 yards, 18 TDs), Jerrel Epps (1,186, 10) or Vaughn Stamper (813, 5).

On the defensive side, DuVall said the play of end Marc Arsenault has stood out, particularly in the postseason. After recording 14 sacks last year as a junior, he has 11 sacks this fall, including seven in the playoffs.

Coaches' picks

The county football coaches recently selected River Hill running back Michael Campanaro as the county's Player of the Year.

Teammate Zach Martin, a senior linebacker, was chosen as Defensive Player of the Year, while Atholton running back Kelechi Odocha was the Offensive Player of the Year.

Campanaro, a junior, has rushed for more than 1,500 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in leading the No. 1 Hawks to the Class 2A state semifinals.

Martin, a senior linebacker, had 126 tackles going into Friday's 35-0 win over Patuxent for the South region title. Odocha led the state in rushing with 1,929 yards this fall.

College signings

Marriotts Ridge seniors Tory Binder (Pfeiffer) and Cory Johnson (Old Dominion) are the first two players in the Mustangs' girls lacrosse program to sign national letters of intent.

In baseball, Howard senior Tony Prescott has signed to play at Mount St. Mary's, while teammate Brian Davila will play at Lafayette. In girls basketball, Glenelg senior Katie Biggs has accepted a scholarship to play at Shepherd University.

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