Oakland Mills learned much about its football team on a hazy Saturday afternoon in late September.
That day, the Scorpions faced South River, a perennial power from Anne Arundel County. That day, the Scorpions also began to take shape in the form of 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior running back-linebacker Korey Singleton.
Singleton's remarkable offensive performance -- 270 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 40 carries, including a staggering 225 yards in the second half -- led Oakland Mills to a 26-15 victory and sparked the Scorpions to a 9-1 regular-season finish and a berth in the Class 3A state playoffs.
Singleton, The Howard County Sun Player of the Year, finished the season with a league-leading 1,817 yards and 24 touchdowns, averaging 8.1 yards a carry.
After demolishing South River, he flirted with the 300-yard rushing mark three more times.
As badly as Oakland Mills needed Singleton on offense, his presence on defense was just as vital.
Playing mostly middle linebacker, he had 38 solo tackles, 48 assists, three quarterback sacks, two fumble recoveries and three interceptions. He also greeted opposing ball carriers with some of the harder hits one sees from a high school player.
"He was our best player on both sides of the ball," Scorpions coach Ken Hovet said.
"He was probably two-thirds of our offense, but he was equally proficient on defense."
Singleton's value was never more obvious than after he injured a knee in the ninth game of the season, against Glenelg.
He played the following week in the regular-season-ending showdown against Wilde Lake but was restricted to defense. He limped out of that game -- an 18-0 defeat, the Scorpions' first of the year -- in the fourth quarter, finished for the year.
The Scorpions missed Singleton dearly in the 3A playoffs. They gave up a season-high 26 points in a scary 27-26 victory over Laurel in the quarterfinals, then struggled on offense the next week in their semifinal against C. Milton Wright, which eliminated them in overtime, 13-7.
"You knew if you needed 2 or 3 real tough yards, he'd get them," Hovet said of Singleton, who combined a powerful straight-ahead style with great acceleration, running over opponents as well as he ran past them.
"We were expecting good things from him. He exceeded our expectations," Hovet said.
"He doesn't have great speed or great moves, but he is so good at letting his blocks develop in front of him, then making the right move."
Singleton's next move should be to a strong Division I college.
He is being recruited as a linebacker-safety by Georgia Tech, North Carolina State and Rutgers.