When Westlake juniors Aaris Reed and Pha'Terrell Washington open the newspaper or talk to friends about local football, they have an interesting favorite topic -- Morgan Green and Lackey.
"I wake up in the morning and see Morgan's face in the paper, and I love it," Washington said.
Reed added: "It just makes us more hungry. As a team, we want to be quiet and sneak up on everybody."
Westlake has been as quiet as it could be for a program that has never had a losing season and now sits at 7-0 as one of the top 20 teams in the Washington area. Lackey was supposed to attract plenty of attention this season, with 15 starters returning from last year's Maryland 3A finalist team, and Green has indeed delivered, scoring 22 touchdowns and averaging 7.3 yards a carry.
All that is fine with Westlake. From the start, the Wolverines knew they were also loaded with talent. They just didn't want anyone else to know.
"It's funny," Washington said, "when all our seniors left [after] last year, people thought we lost everybody."
"Yeah, we took that personally," Reed said.
The Wolverines have matched Lackey's undefeated record. They have matched the Chargers' offensive potency, racking up 290 points to Lackey's 287 and charting at least 41 points in each of the past five games.
And they can match Green's rushing with perhaps the best backfield duo in the state.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Reed, who bulked up in the offseason, has rushed for 985 yards and 16 touchdowns on 104 carries. He had only 13 carries combined in his first two varsity seasons.
After a 1,019-yard sophomore season, Washington (6-0, 190) offers the speedy alternative to Reed's power game. He is averaging an eye-popping 13.9 yards on his 45 carries, eight of which have ended in touchdowns. Maryland has offered him a scholarship.
Together, Reed and Washington make opponents' heads spin. They also produce better numbers as a result of playing side by side, as opposed to playing separately.
"Pha'Terrell gives you the home run, but Aaris sets up Pha'Terrell," Patuxent Coach Steve Crounse said. "If you don't have Aaris, you don't have Pha'Terrell."
Calvert Coach Ed Hottle said: "It balances their offense. They throw you the power guy, and you get in that groove, and then it's off to the races with the speed guy."
It's that ability to offer two very different runners, almost like a baseball pitcher using Washington as the fastball and Reed as the change-up, that makes them so effective. "It's a big part of how their offense is designed," Thomas Stone Coach Steve Lindsay said.
Surely, if each was alone on a team, they would get 20 to 25 carries per game.
"But if it was just me getting [the ball] all the time, I probably wouldn't have as high an average," said Reed of his 9.5 yards per carry.
Chances are, though, they would still do just fine.
"If I had either one of them," Lindsay said, "they'd be carrying the ball 40 times a game, I can tell you that."
La Plata at Westlake
When: Friday at 7
Records: La Plata 3-4, 3-4. Westlake 7-0, 7-0.
Last week: La Plata lost to Huntingtown, 41-14. Westlake defeated Thomas Stone, 47-7.
Last meeting: Westlake won, 48-0, on Oct. 24.
Great Mills at Northern
When: Friday at 7
Records: Great Mills 1-6, 1-6. Northern 5-2, 5-2.
Last week: Great Mills lost to Calvert, 17-14. Northern defeated Chopticon, 27-16.
Last meeting: Northern won, 38-14, on Oct. 24.
Outlook: What a difference a week makes. Last week, Northern was out of the playoff picture, in fifth place in the Maryland 3A South Region points standings. But after a victory over Chopticon, some key points earned from wins last weekend by Patuxent and Calvert, and, most important, losses by McDonough and Severna Park, the Patriots are now in third place, four points ahead of both McDonough and Severna Park. The Patriots have an easy remaining schedule (their three opponents' combined record is 2-19); the only drawback is they won't get many points from those teams' victories.
Leonardtown at Calvert
When: Friday at 7
Records: Leonardtown 0-7, 0-7. Calvert 1-6, 1-6.
Last week: Leonardtown lost to Patuxent, 26-0. Calvert defeated Great Mills, 17-14.
Last meeting: Calvert won, 28-14, on Oct. 24.
Outlook: After the first half was interrupted by an hour-long lightning delay, Calvert returned energized in the second half against Great Mills on Friday to earn its first victory of the season. "In the second half, our offensive line dominated the game," Calvert Coach Ed Hottle said. "It was amazing some of the things our offensive line was able to do."
Chief among those things was finding room for junior Gerard Muschette to run, despite Great Mills stacking as many as nine men in the box. The Cavaliers moved him from fullback to tailback and he rushed for a career-high 167 yards and two touchdowns.
Patuxent at Chopticon
When: Friday at 7
Records: Patuxent 3-4, 3-4. Chopticon 1-6, 1-6.
Last week: Patuxent defeated Leonardtown, 26-0. Chopticon lost to Northern, 27-16, and Huntingtown, 36-22.
Last meeting: Patuxent won, 27-24, on Oct. 24.
Outlook: Even though Patuxent could spend these last three weeks lamenting what could have been, "we're still having fun out there," Coach Steve Crounse said. The Panthers know they are probably more talented than a couple of teams that will make the playoffs this season. While they realize they need Arundel, South River or Thomas Stone to have a monumental collapse for them to have a shot at a playoff spot, the Panthers know they needed to squeeze a victory out of one of their close losses to an opponent with a better record -- Westlake, Northern or McDonough. "We didn't get the big one we needed like we did last year" against Northern, Crounse said. "We didn't beat the team we shouldn't have."
Thomas Stone at Lackey
When: Friday at 7
Records: Thomas Stone (5-2, 5-2). Lackey (7-0, 7-0).
Last week: Thomas Stone lost to Westlake, 47-7. Lackey defeated McDonough, 51-13.
Last meeting: Lackey won, 25-14, on Oct. 24.
Outlook: Thomas Stone Coach Steve Lindsay said he could see signs of a defensive breakdown coming. He just didn't think it would be as spectacular as the Cougars allowing 88 points in two games, after allowing just 42 in their first five games. "All along the way, we looked vulnerable on defense at times," he said. The past two weeks, "everything just unraveled." After getting by the first half of the season on good team play, with plenty of self-sacrifice, the Cougars are suffering from a lack of playmakers on both sides of the ball, especially on defense the past two weeks. Thomas Stone should not count on Lackey taking it lightly. The Chargers not only know they have to match Westlake win for win, heading into their season finale matchup, they also want to match the Wolverines' dominance in each game.
When: Saturday at 2:30
Records: McDonough (5-2, 5-2). Huntingtown (4-3, 4-3).
Last week: McDonough lost to Lackey, 51-13. Huntingtown defeated La Plata, 41-14, and Chopticon, 36-22.
First meeting Outlook: This might be a bigger test for McDonough than last week's tilt with Lackey. The Rams' bid for their first postseason appearance since 1991 is on the line. If McDonough bounces back and plays the way it did for much of the previous month, they will remain in the playoff hunt. McDonough is tied with Severna Park for fourth place in the 3A South Region points standings. Both teams have one very difficult opponent left -- the Rams host Westlake next week, while Severna Park closes the season at undefeated and 13th-ranked Broadneck. If either team can pull an upset, that will probably determine which one goes to the postseason.