Wildecats' Odd Couple Commands The Passing Game Qb White, Receiver Mcmillan Combine For Some Critical Catches

December 02, 1990|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff writer

Phil White and Oba McMillan are proof that opposites attract.

White, Wilde Lake's junior quarterback, possesses the ideal passer's physique at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds. McMillan, a senior and Wilde Lake's top receiver, looks tiny even in shoulder pads at 5-9, 155.

White has played football since he was 8 but had to sit out some county Youth Program games because he exceeded league weight limits. McMillan had that same problem, only in reverse. He was always too light for his age to play little league football. He never wore a football uniform until his sophomore year at Wilde Lake.

White has big-time college player written all over him. McMillan is a math whiz who carries a 4.0 grade-point average, is ranked first in his senior class of 202 and plans to study engineering in college, possibly at Johns Hopkins.

These two might be headed in different directions, but they've been locked on the same wavelength this fall.

White completed 25 of 43 passes (58 percent) for 707 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season and was intercepted just once. Each of his completions went for an average of 28 yards, while an eye-popping 36 percent of them went for scores.

McMillan caught only 11 passes, but one couldn't ask for a more productive 11 receptions, as they added up to 350 yards and seven touchdowns.

Roughly two-thirds of McMillan's receptions were touchdowns. He averaged an astounding 32 yards per catch. He also snared three 2-point conversion passes. And in last week's 14-12 Class 2A state semifinals victory over Douglass of Prince George's County, he caught all six of White's completions. He's no small reason the Wildecats were playing for the 2A title Friday night.

What could this pair have accomplished had the Wildecats not been so adept at running the ball and building huge early leads?

One look at Wilde Lake's backfield of Raphael Wall and Damon Hamlin (combined 2,350 yards and 33 touchdowns) tells you why Coach Doug DuVall prefers the ground to the air. And because the Wildecats often had opponents put away by the third quarter, they rarely passed in the second half.

"Oba should have been a 1,000-yard receiver and Phil should have thrown for 1,500," DuVall says. "But you can't put the ball up when you're sitting there with a 30-0 lead."

That left White and McMillan to make the most of their limited opportunities. They teamed up for their best day against Hammond, when the Bears essentially challenged the Wildecats to beat them with someone other than Wall by throwing a nine-man defensive front at them. White and McMillan burned the Bears for three touchdowns.

"A lot of it is confidence," says White, a smooth, drop-back passer blessed with a right arm strong enough to heave a tight spiral 70 yards. "I just feel confident that Oba is going to get open and that if the line gives me some protection, I'm going to complete the pass to him."

"And when I'm open, he (White) gets the ball there," says McMillan, whose quick feet and soft hands have helped him make several spectacular diving catches. "Our other quarterbacks are good, but it's not the same feeling I get when I run patterns for Phil."

A big reason White and McMillan played so well this year is that they've grown together at the same pace in the Wildecats program.

Two years ago, on the first day of junior varsity practice, Scott Swopes, one of DuVall's assistants, spotted White -- who had aspirations to be a linebacker -- playing catch with a teammate. That day, White became the No. 1 quarterback.

DuVall had talked McMillan into coming out for the junior varsity after watching him in a flag football game in physical education class. McMillan showed up as a sophomore, a newcomer to the game. "I had played a lot of Nerf ball on the street," he says.

McMillan and White learned quickly about each other's talent.

"After our first JV game, I felt Oba was going to be my main receiver.

We started hooking up for TDs right away," White recalls. That year, the Wildecats went 8-0 and were unscored upon. White threw for more than 900 yards. McMillan caught six of his touchdown passes.

They each moved up to the varsity last year. But largely because of White's inexperience and the backfield tandem of Wall and Ron Brooks (2,000 yards combined), the Wildecats passed even less often than they did this season.

White reported to summer practice this year stronger and 20 pounds lighter. McMillan, who had split time at wide-out with Oshim Baruah as a junior, assumed full-time duty. The combination clicked from the beginning.

"Oba is such a good athlete he can adjust to the ball while it's in the air," DuVall says. "And Phil can put the ball there on a rope. The thing about Phil is he's really starting to develop that touch. There's a different touch at 15, 25 and 35 yards. He's getting it. This year, Phil's arm caught up with Oba's speed."

McMillan has also helped White with some great catches. Like the flat-out, diving touchdown grab he made against Howard. Or the leaping catch he made in the back of the end zone against Glenelg, somehow coming down with both feet in bounds. Or the catch he made virtually face-down in the mud against Oakland Mills to set up a crucial touchdown.

With McMillan graduating, only half of the team returns next year. And DuVall predicts those fans starved for more passing will enjoy the show White puts on as a senior.

"We've already got a lot of people (colleges) looking at him on film.

This place will be jammed up again next year," DuVall says, alluding to the recruiting circus that has followed Wall.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.