State title would ease the sting for Scorpions In 9th playoff appearance, Oakland Mills seeks first crown against Forestville

November 27, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

For Oakland Mills, it's about validation.

The Scorpions (11-1) have had a good football program over the years -- second in Howard County only to Wilde Lake.

And they finished second to Wilde Lake in the league again this season.

Unlike the Wildecats, who lost in the state Class 3A quarterfinals but have won five state titles in 11 playoff appearances, the Scorpions find themselves in the state Class 1A final today at Byrd Stadium at 3 p.m. against Forestville of Prince George's County in their ninth playoff appearance and still without a state title.

Oakland Mills has gone this far only one other time -- in 1982.

"It's a big deal," said coach Ken Hovet. "We think we're good. We need to win one [state title]."

Most of the coaching staff, including Hovet, played for Oakland Mills. They regret they never won a state title. This year's team has a great chance to make things right against a school that also has never won a state championship.

As Tariq Shane, the quarterback of that 1982 team, wrote in a letter to the team this week: "You will be playing for everyone who ever played at Oakland Mills."

The question is, can Oakland Mills beat Forestville, a team built on speed, speed and more speed?

The Knights have a 5-foot-5, 130-pound running back named Gary Morgan who runs a 4.3 in the 40-yard dash. He has returned three kicks for touchdowns, including a 98-yarder, caught 14 passes for a 22-yard average and scored 10 touchdowns.

Forestville also has a running back with 4.4 speed named Ed Walker. He's 198 pounds, has 1,436 yards and 15 touchdowns and averages 10 yards per carry.

Hovet says that kind of speed concerns him.

But Knights coach Michael Mayo downplays his team's speed. "Oakland Mills has kids who can run, too," he said. "I'm not thinking to outrun them. To throw for 1,700 yards, you have to have speed. They're a powerful team that likes smash-mouth football, and one of the more athletic teams we'll play."

Oakland Mills had trouble defeating common opponent Elkton the first game of the season before eventually winning, 34-19. Forestville routed Elkton, 51-0, the fourth game of the season.

But Mayo said: "It's all a matter of when you played them. Elkton was on the down slide when they played us."

One key to victory for Oakland Mills is its running game. With all-time single-season rushing leader Vinnie Rubbo finally healthy after nearly year-long injuries, the Scorpions' sometimes-struggling rushing attack might soar.

A key matchup is a speedy Forestville secondary, which has intercepted 19 passes, vs. a Scorpions passing attack that has 1,750 yards.

But the biggest key is the Oakland Mills defense. Can its 4-4 alignment funnel Forestville's high-powered running game into the middle, where it has confidence that its down guards and linebackers can stop anyone? Or will it surrender the long touchdown run outside? Will Oakland Mills' blitz be successful?

So far this season, the Scorps have excelled at stopping 1,000-yard rushers like Walker. They've faced 10 runners with 930 or more yards, and only two have rushed for more than 69 yards.

Pub Date: 11/27/98

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