All season long Wilde Lake has been beating up on 3A, 2A and, in the last two weeks of the state playoffs, 1A teams. The Wildecats have outscored opponents by an average of 33 points to 3.9. Saturday's 42-0 shutout of Milford Mill was their eighth of the year.
Finally, in the state championship game Saturday at Byrd Stadium (4 p.m.), the 12-0 Wildecats may get their first true test of the season against little Smithsburg of Washington County. But don't expect another blowout, and don't be too surprised if Wilde Lake's 25-game win streak is ended.
Points of view depend on who you got clobbered by.
Smithsburg beat Joppatowne, 37-6, and Mariners coach Karlis Larson was impressed. "I scouted both teams and I quite honestly thought Smithsburg has a slight edge as an entire team," he said. "I had questioned them because of their schedule. I wondered how good these guys are because everything they do looks perfect." Now he knows from experience.
"Offensively, they have no secrets," he said. "No tricks. They're coming right at you. They have two kids in the middle on defense, big tackles, who can flow to the ball. They caught our quarterback from behind. They have a nice kicking game. They have speed to nullify the the quick teams.
"But Wilde Lake has a great defense. The defenses are even. Offensively, Smithsburg has the advantage." Larson gives a very slight edge to Smithsburg's big offensive line, but thinks neither team will score more than two touchdowns.
Milford Mill coach Bob Greene, also familiar with both teams, agrees that it will be a low-scoring game but gives the edge to Wilde Lake, the only area team still competing in the championships. "Smithsburg's line is huge," he said. "But Wilde Lake has kids who destroyed key players on my line . . . Wilde Lake has better speed than Smithsburg, more people at the skill positions." Greene thinks Wilde Lake may be one touchdown better.
Wildecats coach Doug DuVall must be concerned with the Leopards' power running game. Junior tailback Colby Bachtell has run for more than 1,000 yards twice in his career. Senior fullback/linebacker Tobby Williams, 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, can't be stopped by arm-tackling. And, "They throw enough to keep you off-balance," DuVall said.
"Their offensive front vs. our defensive front is the key matchup," he said. "It comes down to if we can utilize our speed. We're hoping our line does a good job. It'll be two well-coached teams with strong traditions. The differences are subtle."
Wilde Lake's defensive front will be ready. "I feel we haven't been challenged all year, and I want this game to be a real dogfight," said Brent Guyton, the Wildecats' highly recruited middle linebacker. "We talk about it a lot. It's a challenge for me, Tony Farace, Blaize Connelly-Duggan, and James Easterly."