Though the Old Mill and Severna Park football teams have their similarities – the schools are about six miles apart and, at least temporarily, use Old Mill as their home field – the opening conference game for each squad offered a glimpse of the different starting points for each program this fall.
Old Mill, under fifth year head coach Chad McCormick, fell just short of the 4A state title last year, losing to Northwest, 34-31, in the championship game last December after having won 11 straight games. The Patriots have 26 seniors on their roster and appear primed for another opportunity at a state title run.
Severna Park, meantime, went 3-7 last year and has a new head coach in Will Bell. The Falcons have just 16 seniors on their roster and will give plenty of opportunities to younger players to seize a big role on the team.
Whatever their differences, the goals remain the same.
“Just keep progressing every week, compete every week,” Bell said. “Our goal at the end of this year, just from the beginning, is to be a playoff contender every year. We just want to see growth out of our kids every single week. Everything is new that we put in. They’ve been getting better every week, and we ran into a very good football team tonight.”
“Tonight” was September 4, when Old Mill defeated Severna Park 63-0 in Millersville via an exhaustive Patriot effort on both sides of the ball. Old Mill senior Pete Boone ran for three touchdowns, and senior Camari Wilkerson caught two long scores from senior quarterback David Marrocco to lead the Patriots’ offensive effort.
Boone ran hard behind an offensive line consisting of seniors Evan Dunn, Chris Wissmann, Malcolm Diggs and Justin Umstot along with junior Stanley McCombs. The quintet controlled the line of scrimmage and gave Boone room to run. Old Mill’s line is more experienced than it was this time last year, per McCormick, when none of his starting five had started before.
“This year, we have a lot of guys back that played a lot of football games last year,” McCormick said. “There’s a lot of experience, especially in our right tackle, center and left guard – which is Malcolm Diggs, Evan Dunn and Chris Wissmann – and then some other guys are doing a great job filling in. We are a very big offensive line. We have two big tight ends that can go in there as well. Those guys just need to continue to get better.”
While McCormick pointed out that everyone on his defense “flies around,” he said that what may separate this year’s Old Mill teams from past iterations is the passing game. Wilkerson caught six passes for 124 yards against Severna Park, and four others – Jacori Cannon, Devin Purvis, Cody Bostic and Brandon Sherrod – caught passes, too.
“I think there’s an incredible amount of balance overall,” McCormick said. “I think one thing we have is some very talented weapons in the passing game. David Marrocco does a great job running our offense with the run game, but he has some really good weapons back from last year.”
Severna Park, meantime, will count on senior captains Andrew Haggart, Logan Spilker, Stephen Darley and Trevor Bates to lead the way for a youthful Falcons squad, as will other seniors like Paul Ruppert, Evan Dixon, Joe Morrow and Trevor Bellotte. One of the young players who impressed against Old Mill, according to Bell, was sophomore Drew Betch, who ran hard as a cog in the Falcons’ option offense.
“We got to see what some kids could really do that we plugged in,” Bell said. “We’re a very young team this year, and some kids that we plugged in tonight really showed well. That impressed us a lot as a staff.”
For Bell, in his first season as head coach, this is simply the beginning of what Severna Park hopes will be a fruitful tenure with the program.
“It’s been great so far,” Bell said of the general arc of progress so far. “It’s been a learning process along the way. But we’ve had a ton of support with everybody in the community, and the kids have really bought into the program and what we [did] this off-season. It’s been tremendous so far, and look forward to the rest of the way this season.”