Wilde Lake-Howard rivalry has added spice

October 24, 2007|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Sun reporter

Notebook One of the county's oldest and best football rivalries will add another chapter Saturday afternoon when Wilde Lake travels to Howard for a 2 p.m. kickoff.

It is special for Wilde Lake coach Doug DuVall, a Howard alumnus.

This year's version has added spice, with both teams 6-1 and vying for playoff spots in the Class 3A East region.

"Howard and Wilde Lake has always been a big rivalry since I first got into coaching 35 years ago. For years, it was always Wilde Lake and Howard battling it out," DuVall said. "And for me, it's homecoming, so it's special on a personal note to go back home and play them."

The host Lions, who were 2-8 last season, have relied on a balanced offense and stingier play on defense to turn things around. Running backs Diontae Jones and AJ Bonavitacola both have rushed for more than 500 yards, and quarterback Jeff Kalski has thrown for 530 yards and 11 touchdowns. Consistent play from defensive end Matt Randolph and linebackers Justin Guy and Kevin Ford have been a key with an improved secondary led by Taylor Landrum, who has five interceptions.

"Our kids have put in a lot of hard work, and they're the ones who decided they were tired of losing. I'd like to think that I had something to do with it, but as a coach, you're only as good as your players," Howard coach Al Feldblum said.

The big chore for the Lions on Saturday will be contending with a Wilde Lake running game that has piled up 2,163 yards and scored 22 touchdowns.

"We have to be able to get their offense to punt the ball because if we give them a chance to just grind on us, they'll be more than happy to do it the entire game," Feldblum said.

For the Wildecats, Jerrell Epps (750 rushing yards), Ashton Hayes (647, team-high 10 touchdowns) and Vaughn Stamper (425 yards) have shared the load.

"It's been a real strong point for us," DuVall said. "... And so consequently, it really balances our attack."

County cross country

River Hill is ranked second in the boys cross country poll and fourth in the girls poll, but the Hawks will not have an easy time trying to pull off a sweep in tomorrow's Howard County Cross Country Championships at Centennial at 4 p.m.

On the boys side, River Hill has used balance to roll over its opponents. Craig Morgan (second) and Sean Kirby (ninth) sparked the Hawks to a victory in the Run From the Lions' Den at Liberty two weeks ago.

No. 3 Mount Hebron and No. 4 Wilde Lake also will be close, along with Centennial. Zach Weinstein (fourth) and Constantine Matsakis (sixth) helped Mount Hebron win the Bobcat Invitational in Harford County two weeks ago, easily beating host Bel Air, another in a string of impressive Viking efforts.

Wilde Lake is coming off a strong effort in winning the Meade Stampede two weeks ago. Jonathan Sham finished fourth there, while Derek Lange was fifth, to help the Wildecats to an easy victory over Severna Park and C. Milton Wright.

The fourth-ranked River Hill girls should battle with No. 6 Howard, along with Centennial and Glenelg, for the team title.

glenn.graham@baltsun.com

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