Oakland Mills makes second-half run

October 23, 1992|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

From the beginning, Oakland Mills has struggled with its most inexperienced team in years. With a 2-5 record, the most it can achieve is a break-even season.

Still, the bet here is that no one relishes the thought of playing the Scorpions.

After an 0-5 start that was its worst in 18 years, Oakland Mills has come to life with victories over Centennial and Atholton. And the three remaining opponents on its schedule -- Hammond, Howard and Mount Hebron -- had better beware.

For one, junior tailback Damion Smith has overcome the knee problems that nagged him last year.

Lost in the Scorpions' early-season struggles, Smith (127 carries, 731 yards, 5.8-yard average) has catapulted to the No. 2 spot among the county's rushing leaders. His stock rose dramatically in the two victories. In a 13-7 overtime victory over Centennial, he carried 46 times for 157 yards. He followed that with a 23-carry, 212-yard, two-touchdown effort in a 12-3 victory over Atholton.

Oakland Mills' defense also appears rejuvenated. The Scorpions zTC have surrendered one touchdown in the last eight quarters. Wade McHargue, Alex Somarriba and Jake Daft had two sacks apiece against Atholton. Aaron Smith had five solo tackles and six assists.

More good news for Oakland Mills. Justin Wethington, whose leg injury in the season opener at North County sent the Scorpions into a free fall, may start on the defensive line at Hammond tomorrow. Wethington, who was sidelined by a lower leg fracture for six weeks, played for a few downs last week against Atholton.

"Oakland Mills is a good football team," said Centennial coach Ed Holshue. "Don't forget, they played the toughest schedule in North America."

Overstatements aside, Holshue has a point. The Scorpions were outscored, 138-8, in their first five games, against North County (Anne Arundel), Linganore and Thomas Johnson (Frederick), Glenelg and Wilde Lake. Those five teams have a combined record of 31-4.

As for Centennial, Holshue figured in August that this would be a rebuilding year. The Eagles have proved him right the last three weeks, as they've dropped three straight to fall to 3-4.

The Eagles have scored seven points in the last three games, largely because their running game has stalled. Offensive tackle John O'Connor (280 pounds) is out for the year with a broken leg suffered against Oakland Mills.

"We've kind of been taken out of our game," Holshue said. "We're young and we've had some key injuries, but we've made a ton of mental mistakes. It hasn't been penalties or turnovers so much. We've worn out the punter."

Eleven of Jim DeBruyn's 21 punts (30-yard average) have come in the last three games.

Sophomore linebacker Kevin O'Connor has continued to be the Eagles' brightest spot. He made 24 tackles (solos and assists) against Oakland Mills despite a pulled leg muscle that forced him to miss last week's loss to Wilde Lake. He should return for tonight's game at Howard.

Mount Hebron coach Mark Cates still is looking for his second victory. After winning his first game against Hereford (28-14) in the second week, Cates has watched his Vikings tumble. They've lost five straight and been outscored over that stretch, 137-36. In the last three games, they've committed 10 turnovers and have been outscored, 101-18.

"Things are going real well, considering we've been thrashed the last couple of games," Cates said. "A lot of teams would fall apart after this. We're still having great practices."

Senior tailback Travis Harriston (103 carries, 555 yards, six touchdowns) continues to put up good numbers. And senior receiver Wes Garrison is coming off his best game of the season (five receptions, 75 yards) against Howard.

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