Following up a Cinderella season with another stellar effort can be difficult, but C. Milton Wright's football team is determined to makeit happen.
The Mustangs' 1990 season didn't exactly have an happyending. The glass slipper finally broke in the state final when the Mustangs fell to McDonough, 33-20.
But as in the fairy tale, there is another slipper that fits justperfectly. The Mustangs expect it to fit them this season.
"We'redefinitely going to make it to the state championship," said senior Ryan Arist, an All-County lineman. "There's a lot of pressure on us, and that's probably what makes us more determined."
The Mustangs will need that determination. Not only will they have to overcome defending Class 3A champ McDonough in the playoffs, but they may also have to beat Randallstown, the defending Class 4A champ, which has dropped down.
With 16 seniors in the lineup, coach Steve Harward and the Mustangs had aimed to peak in 1991. They surprised even themselves with a 12-1 record last season. Harward called that team a squad of "overachievers." Now, the pressure will be on from the first kickoff -- Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Dulaney.
"It'll be tough," said Harward. "Everybody on our schedule will be aiming for us. Each week will be adifficult week no matter who we play. We've got to be able to play with momentum every week."
For most of the other teams in the county, beating C. Milton Wright could make their season. For the other probable contenders, Edgewood and Aberdeen, beating the Mustangs could mean the difference between finishing first or second in the county.
Even though several county coaches give Edgewood the pre-season top billing, Rams coach Kevin Reilly said he might give the Mustangs the edge based on the momentum from last season.
"Any time you have a season like that, it helps the kids," said Reilly. "It's not just the talent that helps you win -- part of it has to do with tradition. Whether it gives the people that play them more incentive, I don't know. I don't think they should be worried about that."
In 1990, theMustangs were picked to finish in the middle of the Harford County pack. Instead they rolled to a 10-0 regular-season record, outscoring their opponents, 291-31, with six shutouts.
Despite the lopsided scoring, the difference between an undefeated regular season and an 8-2 record was just two points. The Mustangs beat Aberdeen and Edgewoodby one point each.
The defense preserved a 14-13 victory over Aberdeen and a 7-6 win over Edgewood with last-minute heroics. Both times the opposition failed on the conversion.
By the end of the season, the Mustangs had outscored all opponents, 352-77. Much of that high-powered offense returns along with an offensive line that was C. Milton Wright's greatest asset a year ago.
Gone are All-Metro lineman and Harford County Player of the Year Daryl Smith, and All-County running backs Kenny Batten and Israel Sostrin. The Mustangs should be able to fill those gaps.
Running back Chris Gill (6-feet-0, 186) is the heir apparent to the Batten legacy. Behind Batten (19 TDs, morethan 1,300 yards), Gill scored five touchdowns and gained 653 yards.This year with 20 extra pounds and year of experience, Gill is much stronger and faster. He runs the 40-yard -- in 4.6 seconds.
The Mustangs' other primary weapon should be split end Mike Weichert (5-10,180). Weichert is no secret to anyone. Last year, he reeled in seventouchdowns and gained 295 yards. Averaging 21-yards per reception, Weichert's catches were often spectacular.
Weichert is a double threat since he also kicked 31 extra
points. In addition, he was perfect kicking field goals. He only booted two, a 34-yarder and a 35-yarder -- both in the McDonough game.
When it comes to linemen, theremay be a few individual talents, but the Mustangs work together better than anyone. Back are Arist (6-0, 225), Jason Joines (6-0, 242) Corey Lambroff (6-1, 194) and Chad Bosley (6-0, 195).
"They had tremendous team unity last year," said Fallston coach Dave Cesky.
"I saw several ballgames they shouldn't have won, but they hung together and that comes from hard work. To repeat an un
defeated season would be tough, but 8-2, 9-1 might win the league, and they'll be up there."