Patriots in good hands

Steve Holmes sparks Old Mill with his receiving and blocking skills.

Cover Story


Old Mill running back Ryan Callahan has amassed nearly 1,600 yards this season and more than 4,000 for his career, making him Anne Arundel County's all-time leading rusher.

But the senior says he doesn't deserve all the credit for his record-breaking achievements. His best friend and teammate, wide receiver Steve Holmes, should get at least half the praise.

"Half of my touchdowns were because Steve made great down-field blocks for me," said Callahan, who has 24 touchdowns this season.

Indeed, Holmes' blocking is key to Old Mill's heralded rushing game, but the senior is not just on the field to support the run.

With 26 catches for 559 yards and four touchdowns this season, Holmes has receiving statistics that place him among the area's top wide receivers and give opposing defenses pause should they think of Old Mill as solely a running team.

Holmes, who runs a 4.5-second 40-meter dash, has impressed his teammates, coaches and opposing squads by running down balls that they never thought he could catch. Indeed, throughout his career at Old Mill, Holmes, 5 feet 10 and 170 pounds, has earned a reputation for making diving, leaping and one-handed catches at key moments in big games.

Such performances have earned him a football scholarship to Towson University.

"He's made some absolutely amazing catches," said senior Bryant Watkins, Old Mill's right tackle. "You see a ball thrown up in the air and no one is around it and you think, `No one is going to get to that.' Just then, Steve comes out of nowhere and makes the catch."

Said Callahan: "Steve always knows where to go. He's got good hands. He's made some spectacular catches off bad throws. If I don't get the job done, I know Steve is there to make the big play."

One of the keys to Holmes' play-making is his speed, which he has used to gain 100 yards rushing this season on just three carries.

"He's got another gear he can hit," Old Mill head coach Mike Marcus said. "Having Steve on the field gives us a different dimension that we can strike big on if we have to."

Holmes and Callahan have known of each other since their Pop Warner football days, in which Callahan's Southern team squared off against Holmes' Fort Meade squad - a battle Holmes' team won and he still relishes to this day.

Old rivalries aside, the best friends say they are prepping together for the playoffs. Callahan intends to continue his success running the ball and Holmes wants to show opponents that Old Mill (8-2) is not just a running team.

"I'm just trying to make teams look out for the pass, not just look out for the run," said Holmes, who has caught four touchdown passes this season. "If they're afraid of the pass, it opens up the run."

Holmes said he is also giving tips to Old Mill's other wide receivers as the Patriots get ready to enter the playoffs.

"You've got to be smart," he said. "You've got to be able to run good routes. And you've got be able to read the defense."

Coaches from opposing Anne Arundel County teams have long realized the threat Holmes poses to them, and they have used double coverage on him in several games this year.

Holmes has attempted to hone his skills by attending camps in Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Virginia. He's also listened to Marcus, who taught him "how to keep my composure, how to be a team player," Holmes said.

In addition to blocking, receiving and rushing, Holmes, who bench-presses 230 pounds and squats 290, also serves as the team's kicker and punter.

His 15 punts have averaged 44.6 yards. He has also converted four field goals and 34 extra points.

Brandon Bergeson, a senior safety for the Patriots, said Holmes' kicking is evidence of his all-around athleticism.

"From what I see in practice and in the game, he's a great attribute to the team and he has a great ability to be successful in the future," Bergeson said. "His work ethic is very good. He's just one of those kids that could play any position. A lot of people say we're more of a running team, and sometimes Steve gets underrated, because we have a great receiver, too. "

Holmes said he has big hopes for this weekend's playoff game but bigger hopes for the future. At Towson, he intends to major in business management or sports management.

He said he's thankful that football has given him a chance to pursue a college degree.

"My goal is just to be successful," he said. "I'm going places where a lot of kids dream of but never make it. I feel like I'm going to make it when I get there."

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