This, that and the other:
As Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills head toward Saturday's county football title showdown, the Wildecats and Scorpions could be thinking beyond this long-awaited clash to their post-season chances.
And why not? Win or lose Saturday, each team is a state playoff shoo-in, and each stands a strong chance of playing for a state championship on December 1.
The 2A Wildecats, who were 8-0 and had outscored their opponents 298-31 going into Friday night's Howard game (past The Howard County Sun deadline), look more impressive at this point. The Wildecats defense shows no signs of letting up. After last week's 33-7 pounding of Glenelg -- which featured another textbook lesson on hard hitting and sure tackling -- Wilde Lake had yet to surrender a rushing touchdown and had allowed just four points a game. Only a superb nine-catch, 141-yard, one-touchdown effort by Glenelg wideout Juan Dorsey kept the Gladiators from becoming Wilde Lake's sixth shutout victim.
Offensively, Wilde Lake piled up 512 yards and hit the Gladiators from all angles.
Quarterback Phil White and wideout Oba McMillan showed the league again that the Mike D'Andrea-Dorsey pass combination at Glenelg might be a busier one, but not as exciting or effective as theirs. White set the tone early with TD passes of 47 and 25 yards to McMillan, before finishing with four completions in seven attempts for 156 yards.
In six games, White has completed 21 of 33 passes (63.6 percent) for 597 yards (28.4 yards per completion) and eight touchdowns, along with only one interception. Six of McMillan's eight receptions have gone for TDs. He's averaging an astonishing 37 yards per catch.
Oh, did we forget to mention running back Raphael Wall? When Wall can be upstaged even briefly, you know his team is loaded.
Wall put on another show against Glenelg -- slashing, dancing and pounding his way to 181 yards and two touchdowns. On his 45-yard touchdown run in the third period, he faked out two tacklers and ran through the arms of five more.
He has rushed for 1,350 yards (10.9 yards per carry) and 22 TDs and will visit Notre Dame next month. Wall also received a "wish-you-were-here" recruiting phone call from Michigan during halftime of the Wolverines' 45-19 victory over Indiana last week.
"When this is all over, we should be talking about the best back ever to come out of Howard County," DuVall said.
Not that the 8-0 Scorpions should be painted as helpless, which this Class 3A power is far from.
Any team with running back Korey Singleton -- the area's leading rusher with 1,578 yards and 21 touchdowns on 7.9 yards per carry -- can't be in bad shape. Any team outscoring its opponents 242-40 must be doing something right.
The Scorpions play a successful brand of power football similar to Wilde Lake. Their defense against the run has been almost as stingy as the Wildecats'.
But some troubling signs loom for Oakland Mills as it digs in for Saturday's Wilde Lake contest. The Scorpions have struggled twice in the last three weeks against decidedly inferior opponents Mount Hebron and Howard. Neither victory -- 21-6 over Hebron and 23-0 over the Lions -- was clinched until the fourth quarter.
The Scorpions' offense lacks a quarterback with an arm like White's (then again, who doesn't?) and their defense hasn't been the same without defensive lineman Calvin Claggs, who has missed three of the last four games with ankle and groin injuries.
When Claggs sprained an ankle at Centennial four weeks ago, he was the team's leading tackler. He was supposed to play sparingly in yesterday's Glenelg game. Oakland Mills needs Claggs healthy this week.
The Wilde Lake-Oakland Mills matchup will be previewed more closely Wednesday.
Turning to field hockey, while Glenelg, Centennial, Wilde Lake and Hammond were appearing in the playoffs last week (only Glenelg wasn't eliminated by Friday), one of the season's bigger success stories didn't even make it to the post-season.
The Mount Hebron Vikings, who could barely scrape together a goal or a victory last year, rebounded impressively under first-year coach Jeanette Ireland to finish with a 7-5 record, including 4-3 against the county.
"The kids grew. They gained the confidence they needed at this level and they knew they could be winners," said Ireland, who coached for nine years as an assistant at Johns Hopkins. "We had tremendous senior leadership and great attitudes. We didn't do anything that breathtaking or innovative."
Then again, after a 1989 season in which the Vikings went winless against the county, 1-10 overall and managed merely four goals, Hebron's 1990 season was breathtaking. Hebron scored 15 goals, gave up 11 and shut out six teams. They beat defending county champion Oakland Mills, 1-0. They played Glenelg and Centennial tough before losing 1-0 and 2-1.
Senior Linda Colder and sophomores Katy Anders and Stacy Kubis each scored three goals. Senior Natalie Stover and junior Erin Shutes scored two apiece. Goalkeeper JoAnn Liberto averaged nine saves a game.
"We came from behind several times, and our technical skills improved a lot," said Ireland, who plans to return next year. "We let a couple of games slip through our hands but I was pleased with the improvement. I've got a lot of kids who can't wait for next year."
Lastly, those volleyball players looking to improve the consistency of their serve should try watching Glenelg senior Angie Beech. Through 13 matches, Beech had committed two service errors in 150 attempts. That's a 98.6 percent success rate. It doesn't get much better than that.