River Hill lights up, tops Wilde Lake

3,000 watch Hawks win, 21-7, in first night game at home, improve to 5-0


High Schools

October 02, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

High school football at River Hill took on a brand new perspective last night, as that school turned on its stadium lights for the first time.

The running backs looked faster. The linemen looked bigger. The sky was black instead of blue. And the grass looked greener - almost emerald.

A giddy, gleeful overflow crowd estimated at 3,000 that poured into the stadium for the game between the Hawks and Wilde Lake knew it was witnessing an historic moment for the school and for Howard County, which until last night had only one lighted stadium.

Thanks to a two-year campaign that raised $1,085,000, all 11 current schools and one future school will all have lights by next fall.

The coin-toss ceremony honored Doug Hostetler, chairman of the committee that helped raise the money, and business executive Bernie Dancel, the biggest contributor at $100,000.

A Medevac helicopter buzzed over the stadium. The pom squad did a peppy routine.

And after the school band pumped out its rendition of the national anthem, fans settled down to enjoy one of the great American pastimes, Friday night football.

Buoyed by an extra adrenaline rush, the teams held nothing back. The halftime score was 7-7.

But River Hill (5-0 overall, 5-0 league) proved stronger than Wilde Lake (2-2, 2-2), eventually scoring a 21-7 victory on two second-half touchdown runs by quarterback Ben Hostetler, son of the committee chairman who was crucial in raising the needed money and whose own business donated $25,000.

"This was more excitement than homecoming week," said Brian Van Deusen, River Hill's coach and athletic director. "This was the biggest crowd we ever had. The enthusiasm all week was crazy. Players were giving their jerseys to girlfriends and cheerleaders to wear. It helps that Wilde Lake has been one of the county's top programs for years and one of our big rivals. Our plan was to play nine men up front stop their run and challenge them to throw."

Tyler Martin led River Hill in rushing with 104 yards on 17 carries, and he scored the game's first touchdown on an 8-yard run in the first quarter.

"It was intense," said Martin, a 200-pound senior. "I never thought we'd get lights. Two weeks ago, when I learned we would, the adrenaline started flowing. This is what I've been dying for. It's an awesome way to go, especially winning against such a competitive team."

The win was River Hill's second over Wilde Lake in nine years since the Clarksville school opened in 1996.

River Hill's defense held Wilde Lake to two first downs in the second half, one of those on a penalty.

Wilde Lake's Jared Flagg, who gained 87 yards on six carries in the first half, had no net yards on two second-half carries.

"I loved it," said the elder Hostetler. "The kids sitting on the hillside and then charging onto the field at the end created a wonderful atmosphere."

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