Contrasting offensive styles fuel Old Mill-Arundel rivalry

August 29, 2012

Called up to the Old Mill varsity football squad for the playoffs at the end of his freshman year, David Dunn was just happy to be in uniform for the 2009 Maryland 4A East final at Arundel. As the teams lit up the scoreboard, Dunn, an offensive lineman, stood on the sideline with a prime vantage point for what turned into one of the wildest offensive displays in state playoff history.

When it was over, Arundel quarterback Billy Cosh had thrown for 443 yards and four touchdowns, Old Mill running back Josh Furman had amassed 414 rushing yards and six scores and the Patriots had a 58-55 double-overtime victory.

“At that point, I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to play, so I could watch it from more of a fan’s standpoint,” Dunn said. “It was honestly one of the best games I’ve ever seen.”

Anne Arundel County features plenty of interesting annual matchups based on geography and tradition. Northeast and Chesapeake — both Pasadena schools — stage the Dena Bowl, and South River and Southern play for the South County championship trophy. Arundel and Meade trade the Jerry Mears Cup, named for the late coach who roamed both sidelines.

But thanks to several recent memorable contests, including that offensive explosion three years ago, Arundel and Old Mill have formed the county’s best rivalry. For the past decade-plus, the programs have utilized starkly different formulas to get to the top of the standings, with Old Mill relying on a prolific rushing game and Arundel using a no-huddle spread passing attack.

“I think we still look at a couple plays [in the 2009 playoff game] where we jumped offside or didn’t get a first down when maybe we should’ve that could’ve changed the outcome,” Arundel Coach Chuck Markiewicz said. “A few years back, there was a controversial onside kick that hurt us. It’s always coming down to something like that.”

Markiewicz, an Arundel grad, brought his prolific passing offense to Gambrills in 2001 and has produced nine straight state playoff appearances for the Wildcats with five straight county titles from 2006-10. In the past six seasons, Markiewicz’s team is 5-3 against the Patriots and 58-7 against everybody else.

The system has produced a steady stream of quarterback prospects with Nick Elko (Delaware State, 2008 graduate), Cosh (Kansas State, 2010) and Nick Rosati (Salisbury, 2011) earning spots on college rosters in recent years. This season, seniors Jack Gordon and Cooper Hibbs continue to battle for the starting spot.

Old Mill — under Mike Marcus, Damian Ferragamo and now Chad McCormick — has made 13 consecutive playoff appearances and won two Maryland 4A titles, boosted by its ability to turn out one top running back after another.

Ryan Callahan (Maine, 2006 grad), Jason Clements (Morgan State, 2010), Furman (Michigan, 2010), Demond Brown (Navy, 2011) and Rob Chesson (Towson, 2012) have been among the best backs in the state in recent years.

Last season, Chesson lifted the team to its second state title in three years, shattering the state single-season scoring record with 49 touchdowns. Juniors Shawn Brown and Aqeel Mooring are expected to share the backfield duties this season.

“Over there, I’m sure the kids grow up in the youth leagues wanting to be the quarterback of the Arundel Wildcats,” Old Mill’s McCormick said. “Here they want to be the next great running back for the Old Mill Patriots.”

As usual, a capacity crowd showed up in Gambrills last year for a matchup of unbeaten teams, but the Patriots made sure there was little drama, scoring seven unanswered touchdowns in a 47-10 victory. The teams meet in Millersville on Oct. 5 with another chance to add a memorable chapter to the rivalry.

“It’s our showcase game,” Dunn said. “It’s the game everyone around here wants to see, and you know it’s going to bring out the best in both teams.”

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