The quarterback and one running back are juniors, as is the standout wide receiver. Two other running backs are sophomores. Except for the offensive line -- where four of five starters are seniors -- Friendly's lineup is laden with younger players, not that its players have noticed during their 7-1 start.

"I didn't realize there were only a couple other seniors until it was brought to my attention," senior lineman Brandon Campbell said.

That might be because many of the 14th-ranked Patriots' younger players have plenty of experience. Quarterback Joe Haden, running back Rakeem Vick and wide receiver Vincent Hill -- all juniors -- are each on their third season on the varsity. And assistant coach Marcus Berry thinks that running back Lamaar Thomas is the best sophomore in Maryland.

"We're loaded with underclassmen," Berry said.

Haden has passed for 1,417 yards and 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Hill has 29 catches for 638 yards and seven touchdowns. Vick, Thomas and sophomore Josh Haden -- Joe's younger brother -- have combined to give the Patriots their best rushing attack in some time.

"We still make the little mistakes that young kids make, but that's to be expected," Friendly Coach George Earley said. "I'm really pleased with what we're doing."

Friendly's only loss was to fourth-ranked Gwynn Park, 13-12 in overtime, on Sept. 24. Since then, the Patriots have won five consecutive games, including a 6-0 victory over Maryland 2A defending champion Potomac that ended the Wolverines' 18-game winning streak. That was the only game during its winning streak in which Friendly did not score at least 35 points, including a 37-34 victory over Calvert Hall this past Friday.

The Patriots likely need just one victory in their final two games to earn a berth in the Maryland 3A South Region playoffs. There, they could get another shot at Gwynn Park.

"We're an extra point away from being 8-0," Berry said. "We don't feel anybody is that much better than us. We really feel like we can win the state championship. We have the talent and the kids to do it."

Junior quarterback Joe Haden, center, brother Josh, right, a sophomore running back, and junior wide receiver Vince Hill are flourishing.