Old Mill running back Ryan Callahan has amassed a state-best 1,145 rushing yards this season. He averages more than 10 yards per carry and has scored 15 touchdowns, providing most of the scoring for his team's 5-0 start.
But sometimes, he still can't help but feel like he owes his teammates.
Callahan put down an out-of-district address on an athletic form last December, and an ensuing county investigation found that he was playing out of his area. He paid for that mistake, but the punishment for the football team bothered him most: Old Mill was forced to forfeit all eight of its wins from the 2003 season.
In the back of his mind, Callahan's still repenting.
"I always knew that I wanted to get my team some of those wins back," said Callahan, a junior. "I don't think about all that stuff often, but it drives me."
Callahan's mistake was innocent: While filling out a form for the school's track team, he absent-mindedly put down his mother's Glen Burnie address, instead of the local address where he usually lived with his aunt.
The consequences were severe: He was forced to attend Glen Burnie for more than two months last year, away from his friends and teachers, and he couldn't compete in sports for 60 days.
His mother, Sonya Gross, has since bought a house in the Old Mill enrollment area, a move she had planned for a long time, and Callahan reenrolled at Old Mill with the county's approval.
"It was all just a big misunderstanding," Gross said. "We tried to explain over and over again, but nothing worked. I'm just so thankful things turned out well."
Callahan is midway through the football season of his dreams. At 150 pounds he doesn't look imposing, but every game he leaves another defense feeling hopeless, another coach standing slack jawed. He runs the 40-yard dash in 4.3 seconds, and he seems even faster.
Last weekend, Callahan almost single-handedly lifted the Patriots to a 30-28 win over Severna Park. The Falcons' stingy defense had held Eleanor Roosevelt's Derrick Williams, considered to be the nation's No. 1 prospect, to 80 rushing yards in the first game of the season.
Callahan quadrupled that total. He had 27 carries for 341 yards, scoring three touchdowns. He also returned a punt 55 yards for a score.
"Honestly, he's almost impossible to tackle," Severna Park safety Andrew Ferris said. "It's something that's hard to explain."
"I'm just trying to do this for my teammates," Callahan said. "They did everything for me, helping me through things. I want to be great for them."