Milford Mill and coach Bob Greene have gotten their wish. Will it be a death wish?
Saturday's come-from-behind, 8-7 victory over Perryville won the fifth-seeded Millers a short bus trip to Wilde Lake for this week's Class 1A state playoff semifinal game against the top-seeded Wildecats (11-0) and their 24-game unbeaten streak. Only Overlea and Joppatowne, among area teams, also survived the first round.
"That's the one we wanted," Greene said of Wilde Lake. "The guys feel now we can't be stopped."
Perhaps so, but there is an unwritten rule in athletics that you don't provide the other team with bulletin board material. Coaches always seek challenges for their own athletes. Rarely do they provide them for opponents. Greene, who brought the Millers from last year's 4-6 record to the playoffs in his first year, is undeterred.
He's becoming the Jerry Glanville of Baltimore County.
"I expect a close-fought game," Greene said. "We match up speed-wise with them and they haven't been playing teams that match up speed-wise . . . If they play their same defense, it's going to be hard to cover us. The key is for my quarterback, Jerome Dennis, to be accurate, because the receivers are going to be open."
Dennis will be looking for wide receivers James Woods, Donald Covington and Dennis Badham, and handing off to running backs Jeff Carroll and Alvin Booze.
Defensively, Greene said, they'll try to funnel tackles to linebackers Brian Campbell, Chris Barnes and Covington.
Last week Greene told The Sun, "I have no doubt we can defeat Wilde Lake . . . They've got some big boys, but they're not aggressive."
Yesterday, impressed by Perryville's size and contentiousness, he said, "That little team hit harder than I've seen Wilde Lake hit." Ouch!
* Wilde Lake's Andre Martin ran 74 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the second half in a 43-7 win over an outmanned Easton team. It was the longest scoring play in the area this week.
The Wildecats, who have seven shutouts this season, lost another when Easton scored with 2:30 remaining against a defense laced with junior varsity players. "We could have played [varsity] kids the whole game and had another shutout, but in the end, what does it mean?" coach Doug DuVall said.
* Top-seeded in Class 2A, Overlea (10-0) found itself trailing for just the second time this season, 14-0 in the first half to Edgewood. The first time, against Hereford, it returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown and the deficit was short-lived.
But against the Rams, it took a fourth-quarter touchdown by Bernard Fitchette to pull out a 24-20 win. "The kids didn't give up," said coach Terry Ward. "They hadn't been in that situation before. I'm sure the Edgewood game is going to help the kids."
The Falcons, who last got to the finals in 1988 under coach Norm Johnson, lost that year to DuVal. Allegany knocked them out in the semifinals in 1989, and J.M. Bennett in the first round last year. Friday night they face Middletown (10-1) at Dundalk Community College (7:30 p.m.).
"The kids have a saying that they 'want to go to The Show,' " Ward said.
* Sixth-seeded Joppatowne is in the 1A playoffs for the third straight year but advanced to the second round with a 24-12 upset at third-seeded Cambridge-South Dorchester. Saturday, it will travel to powerful Smithsburg, which is led by 6-1, 215-pound fullback Toby Williams.
"He's a man playing among boys," said Mariners coach Karlis Larson. "I don't think we're going to be intimidated. This helped with our confidence."
Leading the Mariners up front are two-way linemen Dan Rieth, Pat Watson, Chris Carr and Bill Hadrys, guard Cable Miller, nose guard Chad Young and linebacker Chris Weber. Safety Damon Davies also quarterbacks the offense and Mike Taylor has taken over at running back.