Oakland Mills Scorpions
Last year: 0-11, 0-9 league.
Coach: Dick Hendershott, first season.
Last playoff appearance: 2002, lost in first round of 1A playoffs.
Keep an eye on: Running back Kelly Wilson is 5-foot-5 and weighs 140 pounds and knows he's the smallest running back in the league. And while there is nothing he can do to improve his height, the same can't be said about his speed.
Last year's backup enters his senior year as one of the league's fastest running backs. He spent several hours a day this summer sprinting on the school track and lowered his 40-yard dash time to 4.5 seconds.
"I don't have a choice: I have to be fast because I'm small," Wilson said. "If I'm not fast, I'm not going to get to play, and I've been waiting my turn for two years."
Wilson saw limited action last season behind All-County running back C.J. King, who rushed for a county-high 1,236 yards. But now that King has graduated, Wilson's wait is over, and he is expected to have a major role alongside junior quarterback Nick Finney.
"Kelly is very fast, and he has a lot of potential," Coach Dick Hendershott said. "But he's inexperienced and needs to work on his physical toughness and his ability to read blocks. He has talent, but he has a lot of work to do."
The same is true for the rest of the team. The Scorpions return a few key players -- including senior cornerback Mike Sweatt, senior linebacker Sean Kendig and junior safety Preston Paul -- from a team that made the 1A playoffs but was disqualified for using an ineligible player. "They took away our season last year," Kendig said. "So that's definitely going to motivate us this year."
Though Oakland Mills may be hard-pressed to qualify for the playoffs for a school-record fifth consecutive year, Hendershott acknowledged that the future is bright for what has traditionally been one of the county's premier teams. Oakland Mills has 71 players in its program -- 31 on varsity, 40 on junior varsity -- which demonstrates that the students are committed to moving forward after a tumultuous offseason stemming from a grade-changing scandal that cost the school its playoff spot.
"The biggest thing for us right now is that we have a lot of kids who want to be part of this team," Hendershott said. "They are working hard and trying to get better every day."