There are zones in football, the ones designed and commonly used to keep passing offenses under control.
Then there is the "zone" South Carroll wide receiver Scott Mills has found himself in the past two weeks. The one where his reach becomes a little longer, his fingertips more sensitive. Where the ball, even in the cold and wet, is less slippery and passes seem to float in slow motion just waiting to be grabbed. Where defensive backs are all a half-step too slow and their tackles unsure.
The "zone" where everything goes right.
Friday night, in a 34-19 win over Westminster, Mills caught seven passes for 243 yards and touchdowns of 80, 5, 59 and 80 yards. He ran short passes into long scores. Running a diagonal pattern from left to right, he reached up around the 10-yard line for a long Joe Goodwin pass, thrown just behind and beyond him. Somehow he brought the ball in to complete a 59-yard touchdown.
Mills, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior, has good but not blazing speed for 40 yards. "He's about a 4.7," said coach Ken Parker, "but he looks a lot faster when he's running with the football."
Two weeks ago, in a 32-26 loss to Frederick, Mills caught nine passes
for 265 yards and a touchdown (and had an 80-yard score called back for holding). For the season he has 35 catches for 827 yards and seven TDs.
"I haven't seen all this until the last two games," Parker said. "It's amazed me, and I've been coaching for 33 years. I knew he could catch, but . . ."
* FUNNY BOUNCE DEPT.: MSA B Conference champion Edmondson was leading Southwestern of the C Conference 6-0 in the second quarter, but was forced to punt from its own 1-yard line. The kick went nearly straight up into the air, came down around the 8-yard line and bounced into the end zone, where Southwestern's Damon Kimbrough fell on the ball for the tying score.
Later the Sabres, who learned before the game that coach Fred Kaiss would not be back next year, overcame an 18-6 deficit to upset Edmondson, 19-18.
* ALL IN FAVOR OF 47-MINUTE GAMES: Annapolis coach Roy Brown, on the heels of this season's 6-4 record, might be seen leaving Panthers games a little early next year. Friday's 16-14 loss to Severna Park came on a fourth-down, 6-yard pass from Tim Bowerman to John Milisitz as time expired. It was the fourth and, mercifully, the last time this season that an Annapolis victory could escape inside the last minute of play.
Randallstown scored with five seconds left and Arundel with 57 seconds remaining to beat the Panthers. A late Old Mill interception return and two-point conversion had tied their game, but Annapolis missed a 21-yard field goal attempt, virtually an extra-point try, with just 30 seconds left, then lost in overtime.
"It was an exciting year," Brown said. "I've never seen four losses like that in one season. I've had a lot of sleepless nights."
It must have been the resilience of youth that kept up his team, which had only nine seniors. "Our kids feel good about themselves," he said. "Week after week we've come out ready to play and played hard. They never got down after those setbacks."
Brown credited the Panthers defense, led by linemen Demond Galloway, Danny Flynn, Ray Henson and James Graves, linebackers Ty Selby and Shawn Woodlin, and back Mario Dominick, with keeping Annapolis competitive in the balanced Anne Arundel 4A league.
"I'm sure it'll carry over into next year," he said. "After Severna Park, before they left the building they were all singing."