Running start helps Wilde Lake roll, 36-19

Case, A. Merrills flatten Milford Mill on 312 yards


September 09, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Unfortunately, Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall said, no one player can replace the Wildcats' graduated star running back, Mario Merrills, this season.

But two players seemed to get the job done just fine yesterday.

A.J. Case and Austin Merrills, Mario's younger brother, combined for 312 yards on the ground as Wilde Lake dominated Millford Mill in a 36-19 victory at home to open the season.

Case, a 5-foot-8 junior, did a majority of the damage, racking up 198 yard on 16 carries, including three touchdowns. The last scoring run came on an impressive 45-yard scamper early in the fourth quarter.

"I was seeing a lot of daylight out there today," Case said. "My line was working hard and opening up some big holes for me. It was a good day all around."

Merrills was no slouch, either, rushing for 114 yards on 15 carries. The Wildcats only threw the ball once - a 20-yard completion on a fade from quarterback Paul Berlin to wide-out Brandon Bell - but it was only because their one-two punch was so effective running the ball.

"We'll probably throw the ball more as the year goes on, but it was nice to establish our ground game today," DuVall said. "Our offensive line really played well. A ton of credit goes to them."

Wilde Lake's front five - Chris Burns, Mike McLaughlin, Josh Crenshaw, Sean Fredrick and Colin Quinn - is not exceptionally tall, but is plenty quick, plenty heavy and plenty strong, as the Millers quickly discovered. Case and Merrills marched the ball down the field, going 49 yards in just six plays. Case capped off the opening drive with a 2-yard plunge for a 7-0 lead.

Millford Mill's first drive was indicative of how the entire day would go for the Millers. On the very first play, quarterback Andrae Brown fired a beautiful pass to wide receiver Dayron Arnold, who turned it into a 76-yard gain. But the offense stalled from there, going backward 5 yards before turning the ball over on downs. In the first half alone, Millford Mill turned the ball over four times on downs."[Arnold] is really our best player, our big-play guy," said Millford Mill offensive coordinator Greg Trogdon. "Our goal is to get the ball to him, but we needed some of our younger guys to step up today and it didn't happen."

Case broke loose for a 79-yard run on the very next drive and Merrills scored on the next play on a 2-yard run to make it 14-0.

Case added a touchdown before halftime, and Wilde Lake cornerback Travis Dale later returned an interception for a score as the game got out of hand in the third quarter.

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