As soon as Long Reach Coach Pete Hughes sees junior middle linebacker Brian Taylor, he feels as if he's taken a step back in time.
"He's one of those throwback players from the past," Hughes said. "He's just one of those hard-nosed players who doesn't run their mouths out there; they just go out there and hit someone. You just don't see a lot of those type of kids today."
But Taylor doesn't want to be associated with history -- he wants to make it. Long Reach has not won a playoff game in the school's nine-year history, and Taylor will play a major role in trying to achieve that goal when the Lightning faces Prince George's County 3A/2A co-champion Gwynn Park (10-0) Saturday at 1 p.m.
"Am I happy we're in the playoffs? Of course I am," Taylor said. "But that's not our goal. We want to win in the playoffs."
Taylor has been the leader of a defense that has held opponents to less than 15 points in seven of 10 games this season.
Taylor has a team-high 145 tackles -- 68 unassisted -- to go along with four sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles to lead the Lightning to its first nine-win season.
"I'm not going to jump up and down or scream when I make a play to intimidate the opponent," Taylor said. "I go out there expecting to make plays, and I have faith in the rest of my teammates. I just stay focused and do what I need to do."
The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Taylor said he spends about nine hours a week watching opponents' game films, studying other teams' offenses and looking for ways to defend against them.
"Brian has the instinct and explosiveness and that tenacity you look for in a linebacker," Hughes said. "But he's also one of the smartest kids on our team, and his preparation has a lot to do with it. He picks up things that most high school players miss, so in a way it's like having another coach on the field."
Taylor will now turn his attention to the most potent offense the Lightning has faced this season: Gwynn Park has averaged 37.3 points per game and has not been held under 24 points.
But Taylor's not fazed. He's going to throw his body at ball carriers with the same determination that has grabbed the attention of opposing coaches all season.
"When we played Long Reach, that kid wearing number 56 was all over the field for them making plays," Glenelg Coach John Davis said of his team's 42-33 loss. "I don't know what his name is, but it was like his motor never stopped. He just went out there and hit someone every play."