When Old Mill football coach Pete Regala surveyed his defense during August practices, the unfamiliar faces worried him.
To a small degree.
"We're young," he said, "but we have some good talent."
That talent is a primary reason why the Patriots are unbeaten in two games.
Regala's boys pitched another shutout Friday night, forcing seven second-half turnovers in a 14-0 victory over visiting South River. A week earlier, they blanked an overmatched LaPlata team, 33-0.
The Seahawks fell to 1-1 after a season-opening 7-6 win over Broadneck.
Graduation stripped Old Mill of its leading tackler from last season, inside linebacker Marcus Murray, and All-County defensive back Matt Snyder, among others.
An Achilles heel? Not quite. Not after two straight weeks of standout play.
"The defense has been just great," Regala said afterward. "And this guy right here..."
The eight-year coach didn't finish his thought. Instead, he turned and shook the hand of senior defensive back Troy Queen, who had two interceptions, returning the first 65 yards for a touchdown to break a scoreless tie with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left in the third quarter.
Old Mill's second touchdown, a 9-yard run by junior Harold Peters with 2:14 left in the third quarter, came one play after the Patriots' Tim Newby intercepted South River quarterback Jake Cameron. Junior Steve Oliver kicked both extra points.
"The defense was ready to go tonight," Queen said. "We had to pull together. The offense couldn't quite get it going, so at halftime we said we had to pull together.
"My hat's off to South River, though. They're a good team.
Indeed. The Seahawks limited Old Mill to 117 yards offensively. Most impressively, they kept explosive senior running back William Beverly -- who scored four touchdowns last week -- out of the end zone.
"Our defense was outstanding," South River coach Dave Summey noted. "The bottom line is the turnovers. This is a real disappointment. I just hope we can bounce back next week (versus Oakland Mills)."
The Seahawks managed to drive inside the Old Mill 5-yard line on its opening series, the key play a Kevin Ferguson 25-yard run up the middle.
A 14-yard completion from Cameron to Robert Stanger gave South River a first-and-goal from the 5. After Ferguson picked up 3 yards on two carries, Cameron overthrew Chris Messineo in the end zone, setting up a fourth-and-goal.
Ferguson got the call, and Patriot nose guard William Reese was the first to hit him, stopping the South River junior for no gain.
"The team that scores first in a game like this is going to have a big advantage," Summey said, lamenting a lost opportunity that would prove costly.
On its ensuing possession, Old Mill put together a 14-play drive that ended with Beverly losing 4 yards on fourth down from the Seahawks' 34.
After falling behind by two touchdowns, South River used two Old Mill penalties to march to the Patriots' 16 early in the final quarter. But lineman Bill Conley stuffed Ferguson on a second-and-four carry, and pressure from Frank Harris and Bill Evans forced Cameron into two straight incompletions to stall the drive.
Messineo and Ferguson rushed for 66 and 64 yards, respectively. Beverly led Old Mill, which must face Severna Park and Annapolis the next two weeks, with 49 yards.