Raphael Wall's and Korey Singleton's paths to the top of the area rushing chart have been as different as their personalities.
Wall's No. 2 ranking among the area leaders is no surprise. The outgoing, talkative back from Wilde Lake was heralded by Street and Smith's and Super Prep as one of the nation's top recruits in preseason ratings. Wall is a slasher who gets much of his yardage by going outside.
Oakland Mills' Singleton, a quiet, unassuming type who leads the area, was not even listed as one of the top players in the area. He runs more like a fullback.
The two senior backs from Columbia and Forest Park's Obie Barnes Jr. have been waging a battle all season for the rushing title, and it is likely to be decided when No. 3 Oakland Mills (8-0) and No. 4 Wilde Lake (8-0) meet Nov. 10 in the final W regular-season game.
Singleton leads the area with 198 carries for 1,578 yards, 21 touchdowns and an 8-yard average. Wall is second with 124 carries for 1,350 yards, 22 touchdowns and a 10.9-yard average. Barnes is third with 1,319 yards.
Wall, 6 feet, 200 pounds, has 4.45 speed in the 40-yard --.
"He's just a natural running back," Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall said. "You can coach some things, and some things are just natural."
Singleton, 6-2, 195 pounds, looks like a linebacker.
"I like to run hard and keep low," Singleton said. "My coach said I run like my personality, very tight and very compact."
The last time Singleton and Wall were paying as much attention to each other's yardage was when they played on the same 12-13-year-old football team. Although the two never got a chance to play together much, because Wall had trouble making ZTC the weight limit, they and their fathers developed a friendship that still lasts.
"I'm sure he's kind of watching Raphael just like I'm watching Korey," said Bill Wall of Sam Singleton.
Singleton burst on the scene and grabbed headlines three weeks in a row, when he ran for 303 yards and four touchdowns against South River in Week 3, 272 yards and four touchdowns against Atholton in Week 4 and 287 yards and five touchdowns against Centennial in Week 5.
"I'm a little surprised," said Singleton of his accomplishments this season. "I didn't expect to get this much this fast, but I had my goals set for a 1,000-yard season. Now, I've moved my goals up to 1,800, maybe 2,000 yards."
Wall also has been surprised by Singleton this season.
"He's a great back," Wall said. "I didn't expect him to be as good as he's turned out to be. I think he'll be a great back in college. He has more carries than I do. He gets the ball 75 percent of the time."
There has been some talk of whether the coaches at Oakland Mills are leaving Singleton in games that already have been decided so he can compile yardage. Singleton does have 74 more carries than Wall. But Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet scoffs at that kind of talk.
"Korey is a tailback, and we run him a lot out of sort of an I formation," Hovet said. "He's going to get the carries because there's nobody else back there. Raphael's the halfback in their offense, which is like the wishbone. There are two other backs with him.
"As far as leaving him [Singleton] in late in the game, we've had some games where we have been able to get up on people early, but the way Korey runs, it takes time for him to become effective. He usually becomes effective around the third
Wall usually is inactive by the third quarter. Wall played the entire game only in the team's 28-7 victory over Perry Hall. Saturday against Glenelg, he came out at the end of the third quarter, but he has not had more than four carries in the second half of any other game.
"I've been pulled out of games at halftime three times this year," Wall said. "I'm glad I've got 124 carries, and my average is up there. You don't judge a great running back by his numbers; you have to look at everything closely."
Singleton and Wall will be watching each other very closely Nov. 10.