Adrian McLeod had a little help when it came to learning how to play football. His older twin brothers, Anthony and Alex, used to work with him in the yard after they came home from football practice.
"If I didn't get it right, they made me pay the price until I got it," said McLeod, who is four years younger than his siblings.
Anthony and Alex worked over their little brother, but they were also working on Potomac Coach Eric Knight, letting him know that Adrian was going to be an impact player when he got to high school.
When Adrian reached ninth grade, however, he still had bigger and older players beating on him. He made the varsity and started at defensive end for the Wolverines, but he regularly had to go against players as much as three years older and several pounds heavier.
"He had a few slow games as a freshman, and we benched him," Knight said. "And he came back with a heck of a game against DuVal. He hasn't given up a starting position since."
Now a junior, McLeod moved to linebacker this season, a switch that gives him an extra second to react to the play. Of course, having a defensive line anchored by standouts Gus Parrish, Reggie Berry and Terrell Poe, McLeod often has plenty of room to get after ball carriers.
"He's got some horses up front that are helping free him up," Knight said. "So he is free to roam."
And roam he has. McLeod leads the Wolverines with 91 tackles, 16 of those for a loss. He has six sacks and two interceptions and has returned a fumble for a touchdown. He also has scored six times as a running back.
"He can go from side to side and fills the holes quickly," Knight said. "He is around the ball all the time."
Potomac (10-0) has allowed only one touchdown on defense all season, and the Wolverines think they are prepared for a run at the Maryland 2A championship.
Anthony and Alex McLeod are regulars at Potomac games, videotaping their little brother and later critiquing his play. It has been some time since they took Adrian out back for some tutoring sessions, though Adrian said the outcome would be different now.
"It would be all the opposite," he said.
The Road to Baltimore
Friendly needs to improve its passing attack from last week's 30-15 loss to Douglass that cost the Patriots home-field advantage in their first-round game against Glenelg. Quarterback Joe Haden, the county's leading passer, threw three interceptions and no touchdowns in the final two games of the regular season.
Potomac opens its postseason Saturday against Southern, which sneaked into the playoffs despite losing its final two regular season games. Knight said running back Titan Trabue, who missed Potomac's final two games because of a separated shoulder, has been cleared to return this week.