4A East No. 2 seed
First round: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Arundel at Old Mill
The Patriots rely primarily on their offensive line, but their offensive line may not be ready for prime time.
The reconciliation of those two facts will go a long way toward determining the playoff success of Old Mill.
If its offensive line -- made up entirely of first-year starters -- continues to play well, the Patriots will be tough to beat. If the group struggles, the Patriots could lose in the first round for the sixth consecutive season.
Before the season, head coach Mike Marcus pulled his young linemen together and asked: "This season is up to you, so how far are you going to take us?" Soon, he'll have his answer.
There's more athletic ability, more flair, more gift in Old Mill's 150-pound running back than in some full teams in the county. Ryan Callahan's record-setting numbers are impressive. But it's his style that's breathtaking.
"I'll spin. I'll cut. I'll fly," Callahan said earlier this season. "In my head, nothing is going to stop me from reaching that end zone."
And in reality, nothing usually does. With 4.3 speed, Callahan is certainly fast. He's scored 10 touchdowns this season on runs longer than 50 yards.
"This team wants a state title," Callahan said, "and I'm going to try to take us there."
Old Mill's history will provide plenty of motivation, as long as the young team heeds the lessons of its predecessors. For five consecutive years, Old Mill has lost in the first round of the playoffs.
"It's not a monkey anymore, it's a gorilla," Marcus said early this season. "It bothers me. I've got a little chip on my shoulder."
But this question remains to be answered: With so many underclassmen and first-time starters, will Old Mill's other players carry the same chip on their shoulders?
-- Eli Saslow