Losses painful for Oakland Mills Injuries take toll on 0-5 Scorpions

October 08, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

As he sat with his crutches in hand, his lower left leg in a cast and his face painted with disappointment, Oakland Mills senior Justin Wethington made an ideal snapshot that captured a lost season.

The football season has passed its midpoint, and at Oakland Mills, there is something painfully wrong with the picture.

Oakland Mills, one of the county's model programs over the years, is suffering. As they prepare for Saturday's game at Centennial, the Scorpions are 0-5, their worst start since the school opened with an 0-10 season in 1974.

The scene gets uglier. The Scorpions are the only winless team in the county. They have been outscored, 138-8. They have managed one touchdown in 20 quarters and have had 16 turnovers.

Just two years ago, they were in the Class 3A state semifinals. Today, they are staring at their first losing season in seven years. They must win their five remaining games to achieve a .500 season.

"It's a pretty depressing ending. I can't stand just sitting here watching us lose, knowing I can't do something about it," said Wethington, referring to a varsity career that may have ended for him the day he fractured his leg in practice during the season's second week.

He might play in the final two games. That would barely salvage the season for Wethington, a 6-foot-2, 235-pound guard/linebacker who returned after an All-County season and figured to lead Oakland Mills to another winning campaign.

But this year's team bears no resemblance to the program that has earned one of the more distinguished reputations in the area. Coming into this year, the Scorpions had a 116-72 record, three county titles and six playoff appearances.

"I go home at night and think, 'What can we do to get out of this?' " said 12-year coach Ken Klock. "We've tried numerous changes in personnel, and we're trying to keep the kids from getting down on themselves. We never anticipated being 0-5."

Several factors have figured in this forgettable year, beginning with a roster unusually short on talent and experience. Only five starters returned, and the team includes nearly a dozen players who never had played organized football.

Then there was the tough, non-league schedule, which included three of the top teams in the state in North County (Anne Arundel), defending 3A champion Linganore (Frederick) and Thomas Johnson, another Frederick powerhouse.

Injuries also dealt the Scorpions an unlucky blow. Within two weeks, Wethington and running back Matt Silver -- co-captains -- were sidelined. Silver is out for the year with knee and hand injuries.

Oakland Mills began by losing Silver, before dropping a mistake-filled, 22-2 decision to North County. Then, they lost Wethington. Lacking a leader, they were humiliated 45-0 by Linganore, the worst loss in the school's history. Thomas Johnson followed by winning, 35-0.

The Scorpions have shown marked improvement since those three losses. But, largely because of an offense that repeatedly has failed inside its opponent's 20-yard line, they are 0-2 in the league, losing to Glenelg, 14-6, and Wilde Lake, 22-0.

The losing has stung the pride of Scorpions young and old. Klock had a .709 winning percentage, two county titles and five playoff appearances before this fall. His assistants include Ken Hovet and Bryan Winfield who played on the school's 1978 team that went 10-1 and won the school's first county title.

"It hurts, not only for me and the coaches and the guys I played with, but everybody who played after us," Winfield said. "I caught myself apologizing to alumni after the Linganore loss. The question I hear most around town is, 'What's the deal? Are we going to win this week?' As a player, there's more you can do about it. Losing is a lot harder as a coach."

Senior Derrick Brooks, who switched from running back to lineman, isn't taking his final season too well.

"It's been like a nightmare to me, but I try not to dwell on the past," Brooks said. "I thought we were going to be good, and I guarantee you next year's team will be. Right now, it's time to beat some people and get our tradition back."

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