Severn and St. Mary's each welcomes a new football coach this season, but one thing about the two schools is certain to remain the same: their rivalry.

Severn's Tony Werner and St. Mary's Mike Clay have vowed to maintain the long football tradition between the two schools and have suggested that the Severn-St. Mary's rivalry could result in a personal competition.

When practice starts in less than two weeks, Clay, Werner and South River's Steve Erxleben will be Anne Arundel County's three first-year coaches, a distinction not lost on any of them.

"We're going to be keeping an eye on each other to see who is doing better," Clay said of Werner. "That's just the way it's going to work. That's natural, especially with two schools that have a long history."

Clay and Werner will face each other Nov. 7, when Severn and St. Mary's play in the regular season finale. By then, much will have been determined about the future of the Severn and St. Mary's programs. Clay and Werner replace long-time head coaches (Mike Codd at St. Mary's; John Beckman at Severn), and both plan to make a series of changes.

Clay, the former head coach at Southside Academy in Baltimore, will run a basic single-wing offense designed to overpower opponents; Werner, an assistant under Beckman, plans to use more shotgun formations.

The two coaches, though, have one goal in common: reestablish a school-wide dedication to football.

"One thing I want to change is lacrosse being more important than everything," Clay said. "I want football to come up and be just as big here as lacrosse. We want to be a very elite program."

Said Werner: "From an attitude standpoint, we're going to become a little more serious. We've got some big goals, and we've got to be serious to get it done."