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In his first season, Annapolis Coach Brian Brown hoped to mold 40 good individual players into a good team, and Watkins has become his poster boy. The speedy senior sacrificed for his teammates, switching from wide receiver to tight end to running back, and still found individual success.

In a crucial, 34-32 win over South River on Friday, Watkins lined up at the position he'd never much wanted to play and created results his coach had never imagined. He ran 18 times for 284 yards and four touchdowns. Three of his scores came in the second half.

"I just want to help this team," Watkins said earlier this season. "That's what I'm all about. I want to be a team guy more than a star."

He has become both. A receiver during his first three seasons at Annapolis, Watkins looks natural as a running back. Quick yet powerful, he enjoys the unique ability to run around and over defenders.

And once he gets behind the defense, nobody catches him. Against the Seahawks, he had touchdown runs of 65 and 70 yards.

As for helping the team? Watkins's standout performance kept the Panthers' playoff hopes alive. With two games left, they're one of five teams with a realistic chance at the fourth and final spot in the 3A South Division.

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As colleges begin to recruit him, Peters is often asked which position he likes best, running back or safety. "I'm not sure yet," Peters has often said. "I'm still trying to figure out the position I'm better at."

Maybe it's time Peters just decides he's good at both. In a 39-6 win over Cardinal Gibbons on Friday, Peters racked up 239 rushing yards on 14 carries. He also intercepted his fifth pass of the season and ran it back 50 yards for a touchdown.

"He's pretty special on both sides," Severn Coach John Beckman said. "He's playing so well right now. He's just a little bit more mature, and he's making good football decisions."

Peters, a junior who said earlier this season that he's being courted by Penn State and others, runs behind an offensive line that's been transformed over the last month. On Friday, the Severn line opened holes 5 feet wide, allowing Peters to pick up 10 yards before confronting a potential tackler.

The maturation comes just in time: Severn plays at undefeated Bel Air on Saturday, in a rivalry game that Beckman considers one of the most important of Severn's season.

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It's a matchup of similarities, with each team featuring a power running back, a capable passing attack and a relentless defense. But this game intrigues because of the one area where these teams differ: results.

They might play the same type of football, but Broadneck (8-0) and South River (5-3) find themselves in different situations. The Bruins have all but clinched a playoff spot; the Seahawks need a few more wins.

After last weekend's 34-32 loss to Annapolis, South River slipped out of the fourth and final playoff spot in the 4A East Division. Broadneck and Old Mill are likely locks for the postseason. South River, Arundel, Thomas Stone and a few other schools continue to battle for the final two spots.

The question is, will South River's hopes outlast Friday's game? Broadneck hasn't lost an Anne Arundel County game in more than two years, and the Bruins can counter each of South River's weapons. Broadneck running back Brandon Johnson packs the same punch as South River's Mike Evans; the Bruins' defense allows half as many points as the Seahawks.

To make the playoffs, South River will need to overcome some hefty odds -- starting Friday night.

-- Eli Saslow

Severn's Deon Peters.