"Deryk's really good at reading the defense," Bean said, "knowing where on the field is going to be open and leading receivers, throwing the ball open so once we get to where we're going, the ball's already there. We're not waiting for the ball to get there. That way, we can catch it and we can just go."

The Owls honed their skills over the summer in 7-on-7 tournaments. They beat Good Counsel, the state's No. 1 team, in one, but more importantly, Wilson said, the players learned more about their own offense.

"The 7-on-7, I think, is huge for what we do and I get into a lot of them," Wilson said. "We run our offense, so to me it's not about the winning. It's about the kids learning what they're doing. You get to see defenses, you understand what they're trying to do, where we want to attack during the plays and on the adjustments to the plays. "


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Adept at creating space and catching the ball at speed under the tutelage of receivers coach Matt Cahill, the Owls receivers are willing to block for each other, too.

"They're great blockers," Johnson said. "When they get the ball, they might only have to make one person miss and everyone else is taken care of by the other receivers. Rather than the receiver having to go against all their [defensive] backs, if you make one person miss, you can be gone."

While the Owls’ focus is on the passing game, they can certainly run the ball as well. Johnson has 61 carries for 488 yards.

In a 42-7 win over South Carroll last week that sealed the first perfect regular season in school history, they scored just three passing touchdowns, but Johnson ran for two -- his only two rushing touchdowns this season -- and Kern ran for another.

“We had a concentrated effort to try to shut down their passing game,” South Carroll coach Steve Luette said, “and they started running on us. They’ve got a really good set of receivers, but if you shut them down with their passing, they’ve got Johnson as a running back. He’s a great running back and he can also catch the ball, so he goes out on the screens and keeps you honest so you don’t drop everybody in coverage.”

The Owls' quick strike ability is evident in their time of possession. Although they're outscoring the opposition by 31.5 points, their opponents have the ball more than 12 minutes longer in each game. Credit also goes to the offensive line of Drew Averett, Drew Titus, Tyler Hiltner, Nick Frazee and Jake Nickoles, which other than 340-pound Frazee, weighs in at 240 or under.

There's no secret to the Owls' goal for the season — they want to win Westminster's first state football championship. Each record and each win provide a little more motivation.

"We're practicing to be the best players that we can be," Johnson said, "so in the end, we are the best team — and the best we can be is the best in the state."

katherine.dunn@baltsun.com

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