Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills have traditionally stood for football excellence in Howard County. This season, more than most, proved it.
The Wildecats and Scorpions, to put it mildly, played at a much higher level than the rest of the league. En route to its perfect state-championship season, Wilde Lake whipped seven county opponents by an average of 32 points. Before they lost to Wilde Lake, the Scorpions beat their other six county foes by an average of 30.
Only Wilde Lake (10-0) and Oakland Mills (9-1) finished the regular season with overall records above .500. Just one other team, Mount Hebron (4-3), broke the .500 mark in county play. Hebron and Centennial each wound up at 5-5 overall. The rest of the league -- Howard, Atholton, Glenelg and Hammond -- finished tied with identical records of 3-7 overall, 2-5 against the county.
The Howard County Sun's All-County Team reflects the dominance of Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills, as two-thirds of the players selected come from those schools.
The Wildecats, whom coach Doug DuVall calls his best team ever, weigh in with 11 selections, including seven on offense. Oakland Mills accounts for another five, including three on defense.
The envelopes please:
Wilde Lake's trio of quarterback Phil White and running backs Raphael Wall and Damon Hamlin team up with Oakland Mills' standout Korey Singleton (see Player of the Year story) to form the best backfield in the county by far.
White is the smoothest high school quarterback these eyes have seen in years. A 6-foot-2, 185-pound junior, he already possesses quick feet, a light passing touch and the ability to throw the ball 75 yards. The only reason he didn't produce mind-boggling numbers is he spent so much time handing off to Wall.
Then again, White made the most of his precious passing opportunities.
He completed 25 of 43 passes (58 percent) for 707 yards (28 yards per completion) and nine touchdowns, and threw just one interception. His best game was a three-touchdown effort against Hammond. Look for a huge season from him next year.
Wall, whom coach DuVall calls the best back ever to come out of Howard County, capped a great high school career with his best season, rushing for 1,546 yards on 149 carries (10.4 yards per carry) and 24 touchdowns. Eight times he rushed for over 100 yards. Six times he ran for at least 160. And he did it while sitting out substantial portions of the second half in most games.
Wall is one of three Wilde Lake players headed to a Division I college on a football scholarship. Notre Dame, Tennessee, Maryland and Clemson are among his choices.
Hamlin, a junior, was nearly as dangerous as Wall. He carried 83 times for 770 yards (9.3 average) and five touchdowns, giving Wilde Lake arguably the most potent backfield combination in school history.
Wilde Lake's Oba McMillan and Glenelg's Juan Dorsey were the class of the league.
McMillan, a tiny (5-8, 150), quick senior, caught only 11 passes -- another consequence of Wilde Lake's outstanding rushing attack -- but he made them count in a big way. Seven went for touchdowns, and he accumulated 340 receiving yards. That's 31 yards per catch. McMillan is also ranked first in his senior class of 202 with a 4.0 grade-point average, and has been offered a full scholarship to Johns Hopkins University.
Dorsey lacked McMillan's speed, but compensated with concentration, good hands and great leaping ability to lead Glenelg's passing offense. He led the county and the Baltimore metropolitan area with 61 catches for 880 yards and eight touchdowns. He also intercepted six passes from his safety position on defense. He was the premier player on a 3-7 team.
Three Wilde Lake seniors -- center Len Cotter, right guard Darius Waters and right tackle Drew McCallum -- were the mainstays of a big, mobile line that opened the kinds of holes that helped Wilde Lake average 275 yards rushing per game.
"All three of them took big steps forward from last year in their ability to recognize defensive fronts and to make the right adjustments," said coach DuVall, who coaches the line.
Cotter, at 6-0, 215 pounds, called the blocking signals. Waters, at 6-2, 245, was the league's best two-way lineman and easily could have been selected on defense. He becomes the 24th guard at Wilde Lake to make All-County. McCallum, a 6-0, 243-pounder, completed the right side of the interior line, which ran counter and trap plays as well as a high school line can.
Atholton senior tackle David Snyder (5-10, 215) was one of seven Raiders selected to last year's All-County team. He is the lone Raiders selectee this time.
Oakland Mills senior Robbie Bundy was arguably the Scorpions' most improved player. At 6-2, 260, he was much stronger than last year and was a force on both lines. At left tackle, he was best at pulling on the trap, Oakland Mills' bread-and-butter play. That play sprung Korey Singleton for so many of his 1,817 yards.