Arundel running back Larry Barnes breaks free of Meade DB Deventae… (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore…)
When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Coaches: Chad McCormick, Old Mill; Chuck Markiewicz, Arundel
Last meeting: Arundel won, 25-22, last season
KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH
Old Mill: LB-WR Noah Fitzgerald, Sr., RB/LB Donovan Franklin, Sr.; QB Brady Ludwig, Sr.; LB/FB Malik Hicks, Sr.; QB David Marrocco, Jr.; RB Pete Boone, Jr.; DB/RB Quran Mottenon, Sr.
Arundel: QB Anthony Messenger, Sr.; RB Larry Barnes, Jr.; LB Diondre Wallace, Sr.; DB Victor Mack, Sr.; DB Andrew Cassard, Jr.; WR Isaiah Watson, Sr.; DL Blake Silver, Jr.
KEYS TO VICTORY
At this point last September, a young Arundel team aimed to mature while a veteran Old Mill squad got started on a perfect run through the Anne Arundel County league. The Wildcats turned the ball over five times in their Week Two, 24-14, loss to the Patriots, but rebounded in the playoffs with a 25-22 upset — the first time Arundel had ever defeated Old Mill in the playoffs.
Now, the roles are reversed. No. 3 Arundel is the seasoned team, bringing back all but five starters — two are out with injuries — while the No. 9 Patriots try to grow up quickly after graduating most of their starters.
In their season openers last week, Arundel had an easy time with Severna Park, winning 46-0, while the Patriots fell to then-No. 11 Broadneck, 25-22.
While it's awfully early to talk about a must-win game, this one borders on it for Old Mill. The Patriots open with Anne Arundel County's version of the Bermuda Triangle — Broadneck, Arundel and No. 2 Meade. They might still make the playoffs with two losses, but probably not with three.
Last fall in Class 4A East, Arundel, Meade and Broadneck all finished 8-2 and got in while Leonardtown finished 8-2 and missed the cut.
The usual storyline for Arundel vs. Old Mill has been that the Wildcats pass and Patriots run, but last season the two were more balanced, and that was the case in last week's opener.
Arundel's Barnes ran for 197 yards and four touchdowns against Severna Park. Messenger was 10 of 14 passing for 137 yards and ran for his only touchdown. In Old Mill's game, Marrocco threw for 250 yards and two touchdowns and Franklin ran for a touchdown.
"That's a little bit different for us," Markiewicz said of Old Mill's passing game. "It's not something we're not used to because we practice against it every day, but it's still a little bit different for Old Mill, because they usually have a punishing running game."
One of Arundel's strengths, however, is its defensive secondary. Mack and Cassard won't make it easy for Marrocco, who got his first varsity start in last year's regular-season game, or Ludwig, who played in the playoff game last season. Linebacker Wallace is another strong defender.
Old Mill will have to pick up its defense too, because while Barnes powers the running game, Messenger threw for more than 2,000 yards last season and engineered the game-winning drive in the regional playoffs, capped by a 22-yard touchdown pass with 1:12 left.
"I'm not downplaying our opponent by any means, but we've got to take care of ourself," Markiewicz said. "[The Patriots are] probably talking about, 'They beat us in the playoffs last year,' and that has no bearing on us this year. It's not a revenge factor. They might be coming at it from that standpoint, but the way we figure it is we can put a good team in the hole. If they have two losses and they still have to play Meade, you never know what happens."
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH
Northwestern at Douglass, Friday, 3:45 p.m.
No. 1 McDonogh at Elder (Ohio), Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 4 Calvert Hall at Good Counsel, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 8 Westminster at Linganore, Friday, 7 p.m.
No. 13 St. Frances vs. Iona Prep (N.Y.) at Morgan State, Friday, 8 p.m.
Archbishop Curley at Loyola Blakefield, Saturday, noon
Hereford at Milford Mill, Saturday, 1 p.m.