They share a record. That's all.
Old Mill and Broadneck are both 6-0 heading into their much-anticipated meeting Friday night. But if you ask the Patriots, the two teams are worlds apart.
Broadneck gets respected; Old Mill gets dismissed. Broadneck gets platefuls of attention; Old Mill gets a few leftovers.
Despite similarly dominant results so far this season, Broadneck remains the county powerhouse, the team Anne Arundel coaches talk about with reverence. The Bruins are ranked No. 13 in the Washington area. They're last year's state championship runner-up.
"Everybody always talks about Broadneck," Old Mill running back Ryan Callahan said earlier this season. "That's the team everybody aims at right there. Everybody else gets a little forgotten."
Old Mill won't be as easily dismissed Friday night. Callahan, a speedy junior, is enjoying one of the best seasons in county history, averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game. Broadneck's defense has been dominant, allowing just 13 points so far this season, but nobody has stopped Callahan yet.
And, as if county supremacy weren't enough, the Patriots have some extra motivation: A win would certainly help them step out of Broadneck's shadow. "The way we're playing," Callahan said, "I don't think we should be overlooked."
In the first half of the season, some other aspects of county football were overshadowed as well:
Overlooked: Mike Cotham
Other coaches turned around programs in the first half of the season; Northeast Coach Mike Cotham turned around kids.
Northeast's players entered the year crushed by a tragic offseason. Jamahl Jones, expected to be a two-way starter, was killed in a fight a month before the season started. Two weeks earlier, quarterback Chris Shade's father had succumbed to cancer.
"Everything that could go wrong did," said Jeffrey Jones, a cornerback and Jamahl's cousin. "This whole team was just broken."
And Cotham exhausted himself fixing it. He instructed players about safety and survival. He dedicated the season to Jamahl and arranged to retire his jersey. He pulled together a diverse group of 40 different kids and told them that, by uniting as one, they could avoid racial tension at Northeast.
He also won games. A 3-3 start has the Eagles brimming with optimism. They haven't had a winning season in 20 years, and they have a chance this year.
"If we could pull it off, that would be a big thing for this community," Cotham said. "When this year started, our kids just needed something to feel good about. They've lifted some spirits."
Overlooked: John Snyder
The most impressive play in Anne Arundel this season?
Last week: North County is losing to South River by 43 points with two minutes left. North County quarterback John Snyder throws his third interception of the game and takes a crippling hit, leaving him briefly motionless on the field. He then gets up, limping, and sprints 75 yards to make a touchdown-saving tackle.
"Wow, what a heart," North County Coach Gary Liddick said later. "I've never seen anybody like him. No matter what the situation, he's going to give you 100 percent."
Snyder's arm, usually strong and accurate, is the main reason the Knights have won two games this season -- more than they have in the last two seasons combined. But it's Snyder's heart that teammates have rallied around.
Last season, Snyder came back to play three months after undergoing surgery to remove a benign, grapefruit-size tumor from his head. He's been gutsy again this year, shaking off big hits and helping his team forget lopsided losses. "The only thing I do," Snyder said earlier this season, "is play with my heart."
"I don't know where we'd be without him," Liddick said. "He's helped keep us afloat."
Overlooked: Spalding's 'D'
They threw helmets. They screamed at each other. They held a sideline meeting to avoid total meltdown. "What is this?" Archbishop Spalding linebacker Mike Whittles screamed at his teammates during the first quarter of a 60-15 win over Friends last weekend. "I can't believe we gave up a touchdown!"
At Spalding, allowing one touchdown has become inexcusable, a reason to fret and panic. Spalding's defense gives up just five points per game, the main reason for a 5-0 start. Until last weekend, Spalding had scored more points on defense (18) than it had given up (10).
"Our defense is just stuffing people," said Coach Mike Whittles, the linebacker's father. "They're very aggressive, and they're taking a lot of pride in what they're doing. They work very well together."
Spalding returned eight starters on defense, and the experienced, senior-dominated group goes into each game with a simple goal: Pitch a shutout.
"Every game, that's our mission," linebacker Whittles said. "We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. That's why we're so good. We don't believe anybody should be able to score on us."
Overlooked: Myron Watkins
How forgotten is Annapolis wide receiver Myron Watkins? His position isn't even listed in Annapolis's team program.
As a receiver, Watkins might not get too many touches in the Panthers' run-heavy, Delaware wing-T offense. But when he does get the ball, it's usually memorable.
Watkins has three touchdowns and more than 200 yards receiving for Annapolis (4-2). Along with quarterback Matt Vollono, he's forced defenses to respect the Panthers' once-dismissed passing game.
"People came into this year saying, 'Oh, Annapolis is never going to pass,' " Watkins said. "I hope they keep thinking that, because we'll keep beating them."
When Watkins doesn't get enough chances at receiver, he doubles as a converted running back. In a shutout loss to Broadneck, Watkins provided most of the Panthers offense, rushing for 52 yards.
"He's fast and athletic," Annapolis Coach Brian Brown said. "The biggest thing he does is keep a defense honest."
Overlooked: Old Mill's Line
Callahan, the junior running back, has put up some jaw-dropping numbers this season: 1,377 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns. But one thing about Old Mill's success might be even more shocking: Callahan is thriving behind the county's youngest offensive line.
Old Mill did not return a starter on the offensive line this season, and Coach Mike Marcus once worried that his young group might struggle.
"Coming in, I didn't know what we'd get," Marcus said. "I thought it would take us some time to get things going. They've impressed me, that's for sure."
Old Mill's line opens up huge holes for Callahan almost every play. "They make it so easy," Callahan said, "that sometimes it feels like there's nobody around to tackle me."