Wilde Lake tops its Howard County rival for the first time since 2003
To say River Hill has had Wilde Lake’s number on the football field might be an understatement. Heading into the 2015 season, Wilde Lake had not defeated their rivals in a regular season meeting since 2003 and had lost the last five encounters by a combined score of 163-13.
Wilde Lake did top the Hawks in the 2010 3A East Regional finals, but in the regular season River Hill had every reason to be confident when it kicked off the 2015 season, last Friday, with a visit from the Wildecats. Wilde Lake, however, lead by head coach Mike Harrison, broke a 6-6 tie with 21 unanswered points in the third quarter and roared to a 33-13 win. The decisive has earned Harrison the honor of Baltimore Touchdown Club Coach of the Week for Week 2 of the 2015 football season.
“Starting out every season with a victory is always a big boost for a team's confidence. The fact that it was a win over a rival made it that much more exciting for our team and fans,” said Harrison, who took over for the legendary Doug DuVall in 2009 and is now in his seventh season with the Wildecats.
Memories of 2010 had to be rushing through the mind of long-time Wilde Lake faithful on Friday. In that season, the Wildecats started out 6-0, but were defeated 21-6 by River Hill in week seven. The two teams would meet again in the 3A title game, but this time Wilde Lake was able to grind out a 13-7 victory and rode that momentum all the way to the 3A state championship.
“The reversal (this year) is the product of a lot of hard work by our athletes in combination with quality coaching by our assistant coaches,” said Harrison. “The staff prepared a game plan that put our athletes in a position to make plays and be successful.”
Harrison pointed to defense and special teams as decisive factors in the opening win.
“The key to victory for us had to be the play of our defense and special teams. They created five turnovers (2 interception/3 fumble recoveries), two of which were returned for touchdowns,” Harrison explained. “River Hill completed only 2-of-13 passes and we sacked the quarterback three times as well. Additionally, River Hill was held to 173 yards rushing and less than 200 yards total offense. Our specials teams blocked a punt and a PAT.”
Given the opportunities, Harrison said his offense also capitalized
“Quez Bradley rushed 15 times for 127 yards with three touchdowns and a 2-point conversion. Our backup quarterback, Jason MacMillan did a great job stepping in and running the offense for two and a half quarters. Credit is also due our offensive lineman who did a great job on the line of scrimmage.”
Harrison was also humbled by the personal recognition.
“Being named as the BTC Coach of the Week is a tremendous honor for a coach. It is always meaningful to be recognized for a job well done, but more meaningful to be recognized by your peers.
“The Baltimore Touchdown Club is doing a great job for the athletes in this area. They have helped more athletes than I can even begin to name. From the Super 22 diner to the BTC All-Star game to the Big 33 game, the BTC is involved in promoting the athletes in our area and helping them move on to college to continue playing this great game.”