With size, speed, skill and determination, senior Kelian Stevens is proving to be a reliable foundation for Old Mill's offense

The total package



October 11, 2006|By Alejandro Danois | Alejandro Danois,special to the sun

Old Mill senior quarterback Kelian Stevens is opening a lot of eyes around Anne Arundel County this season. Operating out of a new, wide-open offense, he has transformed the personality of the Old Mill football program with his passing, leadership and playmaking ability.

Last year, Stevens spent the majority of the season handing the ball off to Ryan Callahan, the sensational two-time county Offensive Player of the Year, who set state career records for touchdowns (87) and points scored (530) while rushing for 5,253 yards over the course of his three-year varsity career. With Callahan powering the offense with his 1,940 yards and 34 touchdowns last year, the Patriots finished 10-3 and made the school's first appearance in the state semifinals.

If opposing coaches breathed a sigh of relief at Callahan's graduation, it was a bit premature. In fact, the Patriots' offense might be even more potent this season, thanks to the multidimensional Stevens.

"Kelian is very polished, and he possesses the total package," Old Mill first-year coach Damian Ferragamo said. "He can hurt you with his arm and his legs."

During the offseason, Ferragamo met with returning offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Brian Satola. They tinkered with the offense, deciding to complement the run-oriented I-formation with a passing game operated out of the spread, shotgun formation.

In limited opportunities last season, Stevens showed that he was an adept passer. Just before halftime in a playoff game against Arundel, he executed a play-action fake to Callahan, which froze the defense. He then lofted a perfect pass to his receiver, who caught the ball in stride and ran into the end zone.

When the coaching staff unveiled the spread offense during workouts, Stevens was pleasantly surprised.

"I was shocked because we'd always been strictly an I-formation offense that ran the ball," he said. "I was excited because I always wanted to throw the ball."

He wasn't excited about football during his first few seasons of organized play, however. As an 8-year-old, he was placed on the offensive line. After that, he played wide receiver, running back and cornerback. But Stevens was more interested in playing basketball until he got to Old Mill and fell under the tutelage of Satola.

The two developed a bond after Stevens' freshman year. Satola was a presence outside of football, stressing the importance of character, improving as a person and working hard in the classroom.

"He really helped me off the field and was somebody I could talk to if I had any problems," Stevens said.

The relationship extended onto the football field. While most people saw Stevens handing the ball off last year, he was preparing for the things he's doing now.

Sitting in Satola's quarterback classroom, the two dissected secondary coverages at the chalkboard and watched film. Stevens learned quickly, recognizing the nuances of cover-2, man-to-man and cover-3 schemes.

Before practices, Satola, who played quarterback at the University of Virginia in the early 1990s, would run Stevens through footwork, agility and passing drills. Stevens learned to stop throwing sidearm and leaning back while throwing off his back foot. Committing the proper mechanics to muscle memory by constant repetition, he learned to stand tall in the pocket.

"Kelian has all the attributes you look for in a quarterback," Ferragamo said. "He's big, strong, fast and has an outstanding understanding of blocking schemes, coverages and blitzes."

Earlier this season against then-No. 5 Broadneck, Stevens' skills were on full display. On the Patriots' first series, they faced a third-and-15 from deep in their own territory.

From the shotgun, Stevens pump-faked a quick screen to the flat and threw a pass that sailed 50 yards before it landed in the hands of his receiver for a 69-yard gain. He capped off the series by sprinting around the right end for a touchdown.

In addition to running for 72 yards and a touchdown, he completed 10 of 13 passes for 175 yards and another score, leading Old Mill to a 16-3 upset.

"I think their quarterback is the best player in the county," Broadneck coach Jeff Herrick said after the game.

Stevens has performed as if he has been running the spread offense for years.

"He doesn't get emotional, encourages his teammates and helps everyone out," Ferragamo said.

Stevens believes he's the beneficiary, not the other way around.

"I have a lot of confidence in my offensive line," Stevens said. "I know they're going to give me time to do what we have to do to move the ball."

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