Rocco Bruno is the Friends football coach while his son, also Rocco, plays for Boys' Latin

Rocco Bruno III, plays for Boys' Latin while his father, Rocco Bruno Jr., is the Friends School football coach. (Photo by Karen Jackson / October 8, 2013)

Rocco Bruno III and his father, Rocco Bruno Jr., are in decidedly different situations this fall at Boys' Latin and Friends, respectively.

The elder Bruno, who is a first-year football coach at Friends, is trying to mold a team without much of a happy history into a winner while his son is trying to make an impact on an established football program at BL under Ritchie Schell.

Both are having success, albeit in incremental steps.

Although Friends is 1-3 this season, the coach would readily admit the one win was a forfeit, so there's no reason to get too excited.

The Lakers, on the other hand, are currently 5-0 after having beaten Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference rival Severn on Oct. 4 after successive wins over Landon, Maryland Christian, Kiski and St. Vincent Pallotti.

Cracking the starting lineup has been difficult for the younger Bruno so far, yet the 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior is part of the rotation at linebacker and a key performer on special teams.

What the father-son duo doesn't always have is the ability to watch each other's games, considering they are often played at the same time.

On Oct. 3, for instance, as the Quakers were losing to St. John's College Prep, Boys' Latin was squeaking by Severn.

Later, though, the Bruno's will be able to watch recordings of the games, going over plays with a critical eye.

What they see all too regularly when watching Friends is an undermanned squad able to keep the game relatively close in the first half before fatigue sets in during the final two quarters.

"We usually put up a good fight," coach Bruno said about a team that began the season with a 19-man roster that has been reduced by injuries. "Then in the second half, we peter out. I have some guys who never come off the field. They play on special teams, offense and defense."

Still, there are minor victories along the way.

"In all my years of coaching (as a head coach at Chesapeake High and an assistant at Archbishop Curley) I've never allowed a team to return a kick for a touchdown against us. It happened twice against Lutheran (a 43-17 loss). But since then, it hasn't happened again. So, we're starting to make some progress."

His son is also finding ways to make improvements in his game, prompting Schell to say that "Rocco showed me something" in the Pallotti game when he had a tackle for a loss and made an interception.

Schell added that the youngster is back after missing the entire 2012 season with a knee injury.

"He's just getting back into the groove," the coach said. "I think he's really going to blossom next year, and he's already started to blossom this year."

Rocco said that when he and his dad watch recordings of games, the coach teaches his son how to read rival defenses.

"He knows what he's doing," Rocco said about his father.

His son is not the only one confident in the coach's ability. Friends athletic director Greg Whitley has similar feelings.

"He runs the type of offense (Single Wing) that works perfectly for our school," he said. "We don't have a lot of kids and we don't have many big kids. We're more of a soccer/lacrosse type of school. That's our niche. But we still feel football is important here, and he can help us to develop a program."