With the state football playoffs opening this weekend, Wilde Lake and Oakland Mills stand in vastly different positions.
Wilde Lake, which won the Class 2A state title last year and is looking for its third championship since 1985, is the top seed in Class 1A this year and plays host to No. 8 Easton at 1 p.m. Saturday. Seventh-seeded Oakland Mills travels to Fort Hill at 7 p.m. Friday to meet perennial power and second-seeded Allegany.
In other words, Wilde Lake is the power while Oakland Mills meetsa power.
The Wildecats (10-0) are riding a 23-game winning streak-- the last loss was against Damascus in the 1989 state semifinals -- and have blown away teams this season. They have outscored opponents, 311-40, this season with the help of seven shutouts.
Atholton was the only Howard County team that scored against Wilde Lake this season.
Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall said his team is not looking past Easton, despite the Talbot County school's 6-4 record.
"They'rea good ballclub," said DuVall. "We go in each game and prepare real hard."
Wilde Lake, which uses the run-and-shoot and the wishbone, will get lots of help on offense from back Damon Hamlin (1,071 yards,18 touchdowns), quarterback Phil White (10 touchdowns passing, 5 running) and tackle James Easterly. The Wildecats run a lot but can passwith little trouble, if necessary.
Easton coach Ted Johnson said he knows his team has a chal
lenge ahead of it.
"I know they'rea very good football team," Johnson said. "They're going to be extremely difficult to beat."
Easton, which has lost to the eventual state champion in the playoffs the past two years, uses the wing-T and spends much of its time running the ball.
Fullback T. J. Pritchett(951 yards) and quarterback Gary Saulsbury lead the offense, which averages about 20 points per game.
DuVall said the wing-T concerns him, because his team has seen it just once this year. He said Wilde Lake wants to cut the offense's effectiveness by forcing Easton into passing situations.
"We've got to play good first-down defense," DuVall said. "We need a big game from our front (line)."
DuVall said middle linebacker Brent Guyton and nose guard Tony Farace should key the Wildecats defense on Saturday.
The Class 2A quarterfinal matches up two teams that would rather be playing someone else.
Oakland Mills coach Ken Klock would have preferred to have been seeded eighth and taken his chances against top-seeded Overlea. Instead, the Scorpions are seeded seventh and will play Allegany, state champion five times since 1978.
Allegany coach Jack Gilmore isn't thrilled about facing the Scorpions, either.
"They're a typical Howard County team, well-coached, good athletes," Gilmore said. "Of all the schoolsI could have drawn in the first round, I'd have preferred another county. They play good football down there."
The two schools have met twice before in playoff competition, with the Campers winning in 1978 and the Scorpions winning in 1982.
"They're a team that's pretty traditional in what they do," Klock said. "That's what we're preparing for."
The Oakland Mills offense, which features quarterback Antwan Baker throwing to wide receiver Gregg Washington and handing offto running back Jeff Herbert, has been clicking on all cylinders.
Oakland Mills, which finished at 7-3, rides a six-game winning streak into the playoffs.
"I think we're playing the best we've played all year," Klock said.