River Hill is a team that likes to use the speed in its backfield on sweep plays that land its running backs in the end zone. But yesterday, playing in heavy winds and sheeting rain and against their toughest opponent of the season, the No. 1 Hawks went to the inside and survived on their offensive line's blocking and the jitterbug moves of their high-powered running back, Michael Campanaro.
With Campanaro pushing the ball up the middle on two long drives to set up quarterback Luke Hostetler's 1- and 3-yard plunges into the end zone, River Hill remained undefeated and claimed its fifth shutout, 12-0, against No. 9 Wilde Lake.
"It was pouring down rain, and it was my first game in conditions like this," said Campanaro, who carried the ball for 141 of the Hawks' 148 yards on its two scoring drives. "I was excited. But in conditions like this, it's all about the big boys up front. And they just opened lanes for me."
River Hill remains unbeaten at 8-0, while Wilde Lake falls to 7-1.
It was the Hawks' sixth straight victory over their Howard County rival.
"We're on a pretty nice run, but it's always a tough game," River Hill coach Brian Van Deusen said. "We were fortunate to ... win today."
Wilde Lake surprised the Hawks on the opening kickoff, dropping the ball outside the River Hill 20-yard line, where River Hill's players watched it bounce and Wilde Lake's stormed in to claim possession at the 20.
But the Wildecats couldn't get a first down, and kicker Graham Spicer missed just wide on a 33-yard field-goal attempt.
Neither team had a first down until the 2:29 mark of the first quarter, when Wilde Lake's Christian Hough got one at the River Hill 32-yard line.
Quarterback Danny March then hit Chaz Cousin-Lee for 28 yards to the 5-yard line, but River Hill's defense pushed back the Wildecats and Wilde Lake threw an incomplete pass on a fake field-goal attempt.
The Hawks scored a touchdown on the next series but missed the extra-point attempt by Amir Shahegh, who was kicking in place of Scott Trench, who has a knee injury.
Wilde Lake never threatened in the second half, as the rain and slippery conditions resulted in numerous bad snaps and fumbles.
"We didn't play as well as we could," Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall said. "They did, and they won."