There is a bit of a backyard element to the Potomac offense that has racked up 211 points -- a surprise option pitch here, some trickery there. But this is far from sprint to the clothesline and curl outside, or run a post pattern toward the maple tree.
It's far too complex for that, with all the unbalanced formations and multiple sets and misdirection and motion and spreading of receivers, disruptions that can prompt defenders to pop around the line of scrimmage pre-snap like harried shoppers looking for the shortest checkout lane.
Whatever the attack -- Coach Ben Stutler refers to it as an "unbalanced T" -- the Panthers (5-2) are making it hum. They have scored 27 points or more in all of their wins and have reached 50 points twice. The past two weeks they hung up 84 points on Stonewall Jackson and Hylton, teams with a combined 11-3 record.
Senior Michael Vann (551 rushing yards), junior Vaughn Walker (492 rushing yards) and sophomore Deante Steele (364 rushing yards, 386 receiving yards) have combined for 26 of the team's 30 touchdowns. Of those 30, eight have come from 50 yards or more, and 10 more have come from 20 yards or more.
This is in sharp contrast to last season, when the Panthers totaled just 30 points in their five losses.
"If we played the way we're capable of playing, we should be putting up even more [points] than [we are]," Walker said.
"They say, 'Practice every play to score,' " Steele said of Stutler and offensive coordinator Jerry Roadcap, who have coached together off and on since 1994. Steele's statistics would indicate he has adopted their thinking -- 7.4 yards per carry and 24.1 yards per catch.
"Each back can score no matter what the distance," said Vann, who ran for two touchdowns and a season-high 139 yards last week in a 34-33 win over then-No. 8 Hylton. "That's what the coaches try to stress, that we can score on any given play. Any play we touch the ball, we should score. Or at least get five yards or 10 yards."
The coaches also stress versatility. The offensive standouts know more than one position, which adds to the variety and enables them to help block for each other.
"They do get to do a lot of different things," said fourth-year coach Stutler, who has coached some variation of this offense for years. "We try to give them new things and try different formations and new plays, get little options off each play. If you do something three or four games people get used to seeing it, [but] there's always something else off it. There's always a pitch, there's always a pass, there's always something else that we can do -- a reverse off of it. We try to make it fun for them and make them think, because as anything else, as fun as something is, it can still get old and kind of boring."
The Potomac offensive line has some size in spots but is not particularly big, but with this offense, the linemen are not required to beat people one-on-one or drive the opposition off the ball. Seniors Ato Hammond, Solomon Boadi and Myron Rowell, junior Chad Davis and sophomores Anthony Staples and Blaine Morton key the execution. But the ball is generally in the hands of senior quarterback Mike McClain and then finds its way to Vann, Walker or Steele.
Chances are all three will want their opportunities this week against Osbourn, a team that held Potomac to 10 points in the teams' first meeting this season. It's hard to tell from week to week which player will post the flashiest numbers.
"Sometimes it's like a basketball game, you've got your shooter that's off one night," Stutler said. "If one's going to run harder than the other one, we're going to put him in a position that we need to hit the hole that's going to be open for us."