Oakland Mills wins fourth straight, 28-14

Once 0-3, Scorpions drop Wilde Lake, move to 4-3

Barnes: 3 TDs

Football

High Schools

October 21, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

Justin Barnes doesn't do regrets.

Big runs, athletic catches, wicked hits -- that's more his forte, just like the rest of Oakland Mills' football team these days. Because when you start your season 0-3, but win your next four games in convincing fashion, including yesterday's 28-14 defeat of Wilde Lake, the difficulties in the beginning are all but history.

"I knew we had a good team, we just had to get some things together," said Barnes, who rushed 21 times for 114 yards and scored three touchdowns. "We have a little bit more leadership now. When things go bad, we don't let our heads down, we just come back harder the next play."

At season's start, it was Barnes that had to bear that burden of leadership on his own, as fellow seniors Andrew Croner and James Violand missed time with injuries. But when the pair of offensive tackles returned, the pieces seemed to slide into place, and the Scorpions (4-3 overall, 4-2 Howard County) have been as good as anyone in the county since, outscoring their past four opponents 137-27.

"We're firing on all cylinders," said the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Croner, who missed the first three games recovering from knee surgery. "Things are clicking and we're having a lot of fun out there. We know that if we give Justin or Maurice [Shaw] a crack of daylight, they can tear off for a 20-yard gain, so it gives us confidence making our blocks. It feels great to make them look good."

Barnes and Shaw (95 yards on 11 carries) saw plenty of daylight against the Wildecats (4-3, 3-3), who lost for the second straight game. Oakland Mills set the tone early, taking the opening kickoff and marching 75 yards on nine consecutive running plays and grabbing a 6-0 lead on a 1-yard touchdown run from Barnes.

Wilde Lake showed it could run the ball also, just not as effectively. In the second quarter, the Wildecats had a 17-play drive that chewed nine minutes off the clock, but didn't produce a single point. After turning the ball over on downs, Wilde Lake could only watch in frustration as Shaw burst 45 yards up the middle for a touchdown, putting the Scorpions up 14-0 after an effective two-point conversion.

"I think for some reason we're not playing as hard as we can every down," said Wilde Lake quarterback Charles Berlin. "It's frustrating. I really felt like we were going to win this game, but it just didn't happen."

Berlin had extra motivation coming into the game after breaking an arm last season against Oakland Mills, and did his best to raise the Wildecats' hopes just before halftime, tossing a 5-yard touchdown to Cameron Goldon as time expired.

But Oakland Mills stuffed Wilde Lake's opening drive of the second half, then simply put the ball in Barnes' hands, taking a 21-7 lead when quarterback Greg Braukus and Barnes hooked up on short pass that, after a few broken tackles, turned into a 23-yard touchdown.

"Usually you see tall kids get hit in the chest a lot, or around the lower body," said Oakland Mills coach Ken Hovet of the 6-3 Barnes. "But Barnes' number one skill is lining his hips up well, getting up field and lowering the boom on whoever is trying to tackle him."

Wilde Lake pulled to within 21-14 with under five minutes remaining on a 23-yard touchdown run from Austin Merrills, but failed to recover an onside kick. That gave Oakland Mills a short field, which set up Barnes' third touchdown of the game, a 12-yard pass from Braukus.

"It seemed like it was my day today," Barnes said. "We came out here knowing we were going to win. Right now we feel like we can take it to anybody."

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