Breakdown of Wildecats’ 2017 schedule

saleem jackson

Saleem Jackson earned first-team all-Howard County football honors last fall for Wilde Lake. The Wildecats reached the Class 3A East Region playoffs last year.

With practice for the 2017 high school football season underway, Varsity Sports Network’s Derek Toney takes a look at the regular season itinerary for select area teams.

Wilde Lake Wildecats

2016 record: 6-5 (Class 3A East Region semifinalist)

2016 review: The Wildecats reached their first state postseason since winning the 3A state title in 2010. The Columbia school return 23 letter-winners, including all-league defenders Saleem Jackson and Osita Smith.

2017 opponents’ win/loss record (from 2016): 55-44 (.555)

Toughest 2017 opponent: Howard. The Lions have won the last two Howard County crowns and reached the 4A state semifinals last season (lost in 2015 state final). Ross Hannon takes over for Bruce Strunk (stepped down in January) and has 20 letterwinners back, including all-league running back Devin Dawkins and linebacker Ryan Kearney.

Most intriguing 2017 opponent: Long Reach. The Lightning had a breakout last fall, reaching the state playoffs for the first time since 2004. The Columbia school has all-league first-teamers Chad Brown (defensive back) and Spencer Willis (offensive line) and second-teamers KaDarrian Booker (running back), Michael Zeleznik (defensive line), Reggie Dillion (offensive line) and Derrick Noble (wide receiver) back.

By a number: 5. Games last season decided by six points or less.

2017 schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Hammond (0-10)

Sept. 8 at Atholton (6-4)

Sept. 15 at Long Reach (8-3)

Sept. 22 vs. River Hill (7-5)

Sept. 28 at Howard (11-2)

Oct. 14 vs. Glenelg (10-3)

Oct. 20 at Marriotts Ridge (5-5)

Oct. 27 vs. Oakland Mills (4-6)

Nov. 3 at Reservoir (4-6)