Severn football coach Doug Williams knew heading into the season that his offensive line was not only small but inexperienced as well. Still, the seventh-year coach didn't fret.
What the Admirals lacked in size and experience on the line they made up for with talented, skilled people -- a scenario Williams not only welcomed, but preferred.
"Last year we had the size. We were big, but the skill positions were just OK," said Williams. "In order to win at the high school level you have to have good skilled people. You can have a great offensive line but if you just have an average back behind them, he's just going to get average yardage.
"You can have an average line and have a real good back and he's going to get you above average yardage. That's what we have."
The "real good back" Williams is referring to is senior Daniel Wu. Wu, who stands only 5-foot-8 and tips the scale at 165 pounds, is one of the main reasons the Admirals are off to a 4-2 start, as opposed to the 2-4 mirror image they were staring at last year at this point in the season.
Wu racked up 900 yards in only seven games as a rookie last year and this season is on pace to break the 1,000-yard plateau. He is currently the leading rusher in the county with 740 yards on 96 carries for a 7.7 yards per carry average, including six touchdowns.
Complementing Wu and clearing the way for him on many occasions are platooning fullbacks Jason Wade and Randy Morse. Wade, a two-way starter at inside linebacker, has emerged as the Admirals' second-leading ground gainer with 351 yards and six touchdowns on 48 carries and is the team's leading tackler with 82 solos.
Morse, whose primary duty is to make room for Wu, has carried the ball 19 times for 101 yards.
Wu attributes his success to hard work in the off-season and to his offensive line.
"Last year I was running from side to side a lot and I wasn't getting anywhere, but the coaches worked with me a lot over the summer and I've learned how to run more north and south," said Wu, a converted soccer player who played organized football for the first time last season.
"The line has been doing a terrific job and my stats just show that they're the leading line in the county."
Another reason for the Admirals' success this season has rested in the arm of senior quarterback Kyong So. So has completed 38-of-81 pass attempts for 579 yards and four touchdowns. Two of So's four touchdown strikes have gone to sophomore Jake Mack, who with a team-high 19 receptions for 275 yards, appears to be So's favorite target.
"All of our receivers are good, but for some reason we keep going to Jake," said Williams. "We don't go to Jake just to go to Jake, Kyong makes that decision when he goes back to throw."
"It's fun throwing and it sure beats just handing the ball off all day," said So, a three-year starter for the Admirals, who was grounded much of his first two years at the helm. "Once you see the confidence the offensive line has in themselves, it just gives you that much more energy."
When Mack is blanketed by a defender, So does not hesitate to throw to any of his other receivers, which has made life somewhat miserable for opposing secondaries. Junior flankers Mike Fisher and Brent Haggerty have been reliable targets all season. Fisher has caught eight passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns while Haggerty has hauled in five passes for 76 yards.
"There's no way you can double-cover one of our receivers without one of the other receivers picking it up," said Williams. "We've never really had that luxury. In the past, we've only had one receiver and if you double-teamed him you would slow us down. That's not the case this year."
Williams takes the blame for So's ineffectiveness last season and believes that he and his coaching staff have given him a better opportunity to throw more effectively this year with the implementation of the roll-out style passing game.
"Last year he was dropping back to pass and that was the wrong passing scheme for him," said Williams, in regard to So, who at 5-foot-9 had difficulty seeing over his offensive line last year. "This year we've gone to the roll-out and the three-step timing pass patterns and that's helped him out a whole lot."
All in all, Williams said he is happy with his team's performance and attitude, except for a lapse in the Severn loss to St. Paul's. Moreover, Williams is happy to be in charge of a team with with a versatile offense, a "luxury" the Admirals haven't sported in recent years.
"We've never really had the balance on offense that we have," said Williams, whose team will play host to Douglass of Baltimore Saturday at noon for its homecoming. "You load up to stop the run and you open up the pass. It makes teams play honest defense. It's nice to have."