Mike Locklear and the Francis Scott Key soccer team have discovered a way to blend that has led the Eagles to the state semifinals.
Locklear, who transferred to Key, is a control-type player while the Boys soccer
Eagles favored a more wide-open attack.
Each side has adjusted to the other.
Locklear became the county's No. 2 scorer, and Francis Scott Key (7-6-1) won the Class 1A, Region II title to advance to the state semifinals.
Locklear started his high school career by scoring 10 goals to lead the Poly junior varsity during his freshman year.
He sat out the next year after transferring, then went about the task of fitting into the Key soccer program in his junior year last fall.
Growing up in Highlandtown, Locklear said he learned a disciplined, control-type game of soccer.
"I was the new guy coming in," Locklear said. "I went with the flow."
Still, he struggled at first. Locklear scored just one goal in the 1991 regular season.
By the season's end, he became more comfortable and showed that with a playoff goal against Wilde Lake.
Locklear needed to make his game fit better into Key's program.
Locklear said that, instead of passing the ball and waiting for the return, he eventually learned to move quickly to a different area and try something else.
Francis Scott Key coach Gee Hibberd said the Eagles slowly learned to take advantage of Locklear's strong points.
They don't hesitate to create space for Locklear and let him distribute the ball to different places.
"He's learned how to fit into our program," Hibberd said. "We don't have the same skilled players Poly did, but at the same time, we play a little more up-tempo."
This season didn't begin with a bang, however. Ankle sprains kept Locklear from starting in the first three games.
He soon recovered and went on a roll to become the second leading scorer in the county, with six goals and three assists in the regular season.
Locklear added a goal during the Eagles' shootout victory over Poolesville on Wednesday and was scoreless in Key's 1-0 victory over Owings Mills in the region title game.
After a slow start, Key also got hot, winning seven of its last nine. Locklear said everything clicked for himself and the team.
Locklear credits his teammates for helping him adjust and helping everything fall into place.
"The guys would always back me up," Locklear said. "They liked how I played. This year, it clicked. It kind of gelled."
Hibberd also credits Locklear with improving in other ways.
Hibberd said Locklear is not as hard on himself.
When he makes a mistake, Locklear deals with it better.
Part of Locklear's drive comes from his love of the game.
He began playing 12 years ago at 5 and started in leagues at 6.
Locklear now has enriched his game and likes the change.
"You've got to have fun," Locklear said. "If you don't have fun, it's not worth it. I love playing soccer. Just to be on the field is a privilege."