Grabbing the lion's share of attention from opposing defenses does have its drawbacks, but for Anne Arundel County Sun Football Player of the Year William Beverly, it comes with the territory.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound senior running back, nicknamed "Boo," played a major role in Old Mill's offense, rushing for 951 yards and 14 touchdowns on 199 carries, a 4.8-yard average. He also hauled in 24 passes for 367 yards and four touchdowns.
He helped spark the 9-2 Patriots to their first-ever state playoff appearance, a 17-7 loss to Wootton of Montgomery County in the quarterfinals.
"You can't take anything away from Wootton. They're a good football team. But we were a little banged up. We gave it everything we had, but it just wasn't enough," said Beverly, who left the game at halftime with an ankle injury.
Fortunately for Beverly, his high school athletic career didn't end on that cold mid-November night. This spring, "Boo" will know baseball, as he returns as an outfielder for the perennial 4A power.
"I enjoy playing baseball, but football is definitely my favorite. It suits my abilities more. Plus I've grown up in a football-type atmosphere.
But baseball is a lot of fun. I wish I had started playing earlier, though."
Despite his impressive numbers, the Old Mill tri-captain elects to give his teammates the bulk of the credit for his banner season.
"During the beginning of the season, Coach (Pete) Regala told me that the teams in the county were going to key on me, and they did," he said.
"In our first game against (Charles County's) La Plata, I did pretty well. But during the second and third games (against South River and Severna Park) they really started to look for me. I think Harold (Peters) and Derric (Johnson) really picked up the slack for us. I don't think they got the credit they deserved. They'll surprise a lot of people next year.
"Our offensive line really did come along this year. (Assistant coach) Mike Marcus did a great job with them. I knew going into the season that we were loaded at the skill positions, but the line really did come through. I think they were the key to our season."
As a third-down deep safety on defense, Beverly had five interceptions, three fumble recoveries (two for touchdowns, covering 90 and 83 yards), 10 solo tackles, 12 assisted tackles and eight pass deflections.
"I like offense better, but I didn't mind playing defense at all," he said. "It gave me a chance to get back at some of the people who were hitting me while I had the ball. Plus, I got to talk junk to them the same way they were talking to me."
Because of his gridiron exploits, Beverly is being wooed by an impressive list of colleges, including traditional Division I powers West Virginia, Syracuse and South Carolina. Division II Bowie State has expressed interest, but Beverly would rather attend a school away from home.
"I'd really like to get as far away from the area as possible," he said.
"There's nothing else around here for me to do. I want to go somewhere where it's totally different, so I can see what life is like in other parts of the country.
"It would be nice to put my skills to the test against players from other areas. If I stay around here, I'll basically be playing against people I've already seen. Right now, I'm working pretty hard in the classroom. My first couple of years I was kind of lazy, but I've been picking up. Hopefully, when it comes time to sign (a national letter of intent) I'll be OK."
County coaches like Arundel's Buddy Hepfer probably are more than happy to see Beverly leave for greener pastures.
"What can you say, he's a good all-around football player," Hepfer said. "Every time he touched the ball, he was a threat to score. Pete (Regala) did a great job of using him."
Regala said, "He just does so much. He was the guy to go to whenever we needed a key play. His work ethic was tremendous, and as a captain (along with quarterback Eric Scott and defensive tackle Taray Rollins) he demanded a lot out of everyone, including himself."
One of Beverly's main goals this season was to help his team go undefeated during the regular season and reach the state playoffs. However, when Severna Park downed the Patriots, 21-13, on Sept. 21, it may have been the best thing that could have happened to Beverly and his teammates.
"I think that was the game that really got us going," he said. "After the game, we all agreed that if we were to play them again, we could beat them. We had a lot of doubters in the beginning, but I think we made believers out of a lot of those people by the end of the season."