Wilde Lake pursues respect Team eager to prove itself in state 3A final

November 28, 1997|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Wilde Lake football coach Doug DuVall wrote a note that hangs on the team's bulletin board this week.

In it, the coach quotes Winston Churchill talking about the Allied forces during World War II, and says Churchill's words might also be used to describe Wilde Lake.

"Whatever it takes for as long as it takes," are the words DuVall says indicates how hard his team plays.

That's the way it was last week, when the Wildecats faced their biggest challenge of the season so far -- an oversized Friendly squad that might have crushed the Wildecats.

Instead, Wilde Lake played the role of David and in the mud and rain slew its Goliath, 3-0.

"Friday night at Friendly was indeed the Wildecats' finest game of the season," DuVall said in his note. "It was a tough game played by tough people."

dTC Now, the No. 4-ranked Wildecats (12-0) have earned the opportunity today against Thomas Johnson (11-1) at College Park to do what few except themselves thought they could this season -- win a Class 3A state championship.

"Even if we win the state title, I'm not sure people will respect us," said Danny Bayron, the team's leading rusher (1,118 yards, 17 touchdowns) and tackler (111), and The Sun's Howard County Defensive Player of the Year. He said he started believing in the team when the Wildecats defeated Class 4A Patterson and Parkdale in preseason scrimmages.

The players, who talked about winning the school's fifth state title since the first practice, say they are peeved they haven't yet earned the respect even of some classmates. Some say the county league was weak this season and that this year's team isn't as good as last year's.

"People are asking me if it's worth going to College Park," said All-County lineman Garth Herdrich.

Quentin Collins, an All-County cornerback whose interception stopped Friendly's final drive, said: "Everyone in school thinks the Friendly win was a fluke."

But the players say it was no fluke.

"Beating Friendly made a statement," said All-County defensive back Brandon Finney, whose recovery of a fumbled punt set up the winning field goal.

The team's defining moment this season was a goal-line stand as time ran out in the first half, after Friendly's interception return to Wilde Lake's 19-yard line.

Friendly converted a fourth-and-eight to the 5-yard line with 23 seconds left. But two plays later, at the 4, time ran out with Wilde Lake still ahead 3-0.

"I told them then during a timeout that a goal-line stand would win this game," said defensive coordinator Mike Harrison.

DuVall said: "They have a dream they can do it. They don't scare. They just keep hammering away at it. The Friendly game was like a prize fight -- pounding at one another. It was one of our finest wins ever."

Now, Thomas Johnson stands between the Wildecats and their goal.

"Every player received a three-page scouting report on them," said Herdrich, a tri-captain with Collins and quarterback Derek Bell.

"We'll be anxious," said Bayron. "But we have to just keep playing defense and step up our offense."

In two playoff games so far, the Wildecats have scored a total of 12 points, but have allowed just six.

Unlike the past two playoff games, when the team hoped for rain to neutralize their opponents' superior speed, the Wildecats hope for a dry field this week, because they feel they are faster than Thomas Johnson.

The players take it as a good omen that Wilde Lake defeated Milford Mill in state title seasons of 1985 and 1991, and beat the Millers in the first round this year as well.

Pub Date: 11/28/97

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