Meade quarterback Marcus Smith.

Meade quarterback Marcus Smith. (Steve Ruark / Patuxent Publishing / September 6, 2013)

When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Coaches: Chad McCormick, Old Mill Patriots; Rich Holzer, Meade Mustangs

Last meeting: Meade won, 28-21, last season

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH


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Old Mill: RB-DB Marcus Hicks, Sr. (38 carries for 182 yards, 5 TDs, fumble recovery for TD, 10 tackles); WR Devin Salisbury, Sr. (6 catches for 133 yards, 1 TD); K Brady Hannon, Sr., (8-for-8 PATs, 1-for-2 with 23-yard FG); LB Nikko Ware, Jr., (17 tackles, 2 sacks); LB Malik Hicks, Jr., (13 tackles, 1 sack, 1 int.); DB Aqeel Mooring, Sr., (17 tackles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT); LB Dominic Kess, Jr., (18 tackles, 1 sack)

Meade: QB Marcus Smith, Sr. (23-for-31 passing for 306 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 27 carries for 179 yards, 1 TD); RB-DB Kyle Evans, Sr. (29 carries for 360 yards, 3 TDs); OL Jake Hawk, Sr.; TE-DE Niquekko Cook, Sr. (17 tackles, 1 sack); WR-DB Deventae Dunn, Sr. (7 tackles,1 fumble recovery); LB Robert Hogan, Sr. (10 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT); LB Daniel Gilbert, Sr. (7 tackles 2 sacks)

KEYS TO VICTORY

Before the Mustangs knocked off Old Mill in last season's regional final, the Patriots had won 11 straight games in the rivalry. Meade lost the regular-season game, 28-18, last fall, but the Mustangs turned it around in the postseason, beating the Patriots 28-21 in Meade's first trip to the state semifinals since 2001.

Friday's game will have an edge to it, and not just because of what happened last year. Even though the season is still young, this game has major repercussions for the Anne Arundel County league race as well as the Class 4A East regional race.

After just two games, Meade and Old Mill are tied for first place in the 4A East with Leonardtown (2-0) in third, but with fewer points.

Both coaches point to line play as the critical factor because both teams rely on the run. They have different styles to their running games, but both need to control the line of scrimmage to succeed.

"They're an I-formation team," Holzer said. "What we're doing is more like what the Philadelphia Eagles are doing -- hurry up, run a lot of plays, run the ball a lot, try to spread people out to run the ball."

The Mustangs had no trouble last week with South River, taking a 38-7 lead in an eventual 45-22 victory, but the Patriots struggled to get their running game going against a tough Arundel defensive line, even though they pulled out a close 24-14 win.

"We've got to be able to run the football," McCormick said. "That sets up everything we do passing-wise. We struggled to run the ball against Arundel, but it's early in the season and even though we have some returning starters on that line, only one guy's in the same position as last year."

That's left guard Matt Powell. Adam Albrecht was the right guard a year ago but broke his leg, so Anthony Parks stepped in. Those three are the only starters back, but Albrecht is now the center and Parks plays tackle. They join Robert Sparks, Daniel Lee and rotating tight ends Martin Hayes, Chandler Parrish and Ian Tapscott.

For the Mustangs, Holzer said the young offensive line has been a pleasant surprise with junior guards Hunter Dafoe and Dom Hudson, sophomore tackle Devin McNeal and sophomore tight end Will Huff. They join veterans Hawk, Cook and center Avery Baker.

Old Mill's defense had a good tune-up for the Mustangs' hurry-up offense with Arundel last week. The Wildcats move even quicker with snaps coming just seconds between plays, but the Wildcats are a big passing team while the Mustangs look to run first.

A key for both defenses will be stopping the Marcuses. Old Mill's Marcus Hicks, despite struggling in the running game last week, scored twice and he's capable of breaking a big play on offense or as a return man. Mustangs quarterback Marcus Smith ran for 166 yards and scored the winning touchdown with 22.7 seconds left in the regional final victory.

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

Anacostia, D.C. at No. 1 Gilman, Fri. 4 p.m.

No. 2 River Hill at Atholton, Fri., 7 p.m.

Hereford at No. 11 Franklin, Fri., 7 p.m.

Caravel, Del. at No. 12 Archbishop Curley, Fri., 7 p.m.

Loyola at North Harford, Fri., 7 p.m.

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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