Wilde Lake homing in on another county title Wildecats have size, speed to return to top

High School Football Preview

September 05, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Want to know how good Wilde Lake's football team is going to be this season?

This little anecdote will tell you.

Wildecats coach Doug DuVall broke his leg in a snowmobile accident behind his home in Ellicott City last February. Just before the 2 1/2 -hour operation that repaired his femur bone with a permanent metal rod, DuVall implored the doctor not to let anything happen to him.

"I've watched this football team develop for four years and I don't want to miss it," DuVall said. DuVall, coaching his 23rd season at Wilde Lake, will be around to enjoy every minute, although he's still limping a bit.

The Wildecats have posted records of 5-6, 6-4 and 7-3 the past three seasons. For the last two, Wilde Lake played out of a suitcase as its school was rebuilt. One season it played all of its games on the road. Last season it borrowed River Hill's home field.

Now the Wildecats' new field is finished. They are home and everything is falling into place.

Redistricting has ballooned school population from 780 to 1,400, resulting in the largest turnout since the 1970s. There are 41 players on varsity, and they are ready to set off some fireworks.

"It's going to make a big difference for us to be back home," DuVall said.

They return five first-team all-county players in Dain Lewis, Tony Jackson, Kyle Leibe, Josh Vanderwagen and Brian Jackson.

Lewis, a 6-foot, 185-pound tailback with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, rushed for 1,083 yards and 16 touchdowns, and as a linebacker had 61 solo tackles, 31 assists and 17 sacks. He also recovered three fumbles, blocked two punts, intercepted a pass and earned second-team All-Metro honors.

Tony Jackson, a 6-2, 215-pound tight end and strong safety, caught 26 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns, and had 57 solo tackles and 35 assists.

Leibe, a 6-foot, 215-pound fullback and linebacker, rushed for 900 yards and made 68 solo tackles and 55 assists.

Vanderwagen, a 6-4, 285-pound two-way tackle, is mobile and intelligent and one of several Wildecats who are collegiate prospects.

Brian Jackson (no relation to Tony) was the all-county kicker. His kickoffs regularly carried into the end zone.

Wilde Lake has other outstanding performers, such as Sean Jefferson, who rushed for 700 yards, and Barrett Wragg, a wide receiver who caught 24 passes for 448 yards. Jefferson, Wragg, Lewis, Vanderwagen and junior guard Garth Herdrick all will be playing their third varsity seasons. Tony Jackson will be playing on his fourth varsity squad.

Wilde Lake has size, speed and depth, but like most county teams, it will have a new starting quarterback, either senior Nick Shavatt, or Derick Bell, a junior who has 4.5 speed.

The Wildecats, who have won 13 county titles and four state titles under DuVall, will be aiming to add to both those figures. DuVall starts the season with 187 career wins.

Only two teams appear to stand seriously in the way of Wilde Lake's 14th county title -- Atholton and Oakland Mills.

Atholton defeated Wilde Lake for the first time in 17 seasons last year, 14-13. The Raiders may be even better than last season, sporting a mixture of size and speed that would delight any coach.

Kevin Kelly's debut as coach last season, after 17 years as an Atholton assistant, was spectacular. The lightly regarded Raiders went 7-3 and Kelly was named The Sun's Howard County Coach of the Year.

The Raiders will miss team leader Ricky Trott, a first-team all-county linebacker, and hard-nosed quarterback Jason Sandner, but first-team all-county lineman Marcus Boykins is back.

Boykins leads Atholton's beef brigade at 6-4 and 325 pounds. Paul McElheny is 6-6, 295. Ross Benson is 5-9, 250. Matt Kensinger is a junior up from JV and a mere 240 pounds.

Quarterback Sean Williams saw enough playing time as backup to give him a good head start at running Atholton's option offense. Williams is a better passer than Sandner, but doesn't run as well.

If Williams falters or is injured, junior Ryan Lambert, a 6-2 basketball player with good speed, is being groomed to take over. Another basketball player, Bryan Worsley, is a 6-2, 205-pound tight end with 4.6 speed.

Wide receiver Keith Jefferson and first-year senior running back Cian Oatts can both run the 40 in 4.3 seconds. Running back Lavar Macon gained 440 yards and was second-team all-county.

Atholton plays Wilde Lake the second game of the season at Atholton, so a lot depends on which team gets prepared the quickest.

Oakland Mills is the defending county champion, but graduated six all-county and three All-Metro players.

A lot of the Scorpions' hopes will rest on all-county running back Fardan Carter, who gained 792 yards and scored nine touchdowns despite missing two games because of an injury.

Bryan Cole, an all-county defensive lineman last season, moves to fullback and linebacker and is the kind of hard-hitter that has earned Oakland Mills a long-standing reputation for toughness. Despite playing the first two games with a broken hand, Cole assisted on 41 tackles, made 22 solos, had six sacks and recovered three fumbles.

Pub Date: 9/05/96

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