By Katherine Dunn, The Baltimore Sun
10:18 PM EST, December 1, 2011
In the next state football record book, Rob Chesson will be the only name appearing under "Most Touchdowns, Season." If the Old Mill senior running back had his way, his teammates' names would be right there with his.
Long before he boosted the record to 49 last week, Chesson sang the praises of the entire Patriots offense, especially the linemen and fullback Seth Holbrook, who spring him loose week after week for an average of 3.8 touchdowns and 194 yards per game.
"You block, I run and we score," has been a motto for Chesson all season.
That formula has the No. 3 Patriots 13-0 heading into Friday night's Class 4A state championship game against Quince Orchard (13-0) at M&T Bank Stadium.
Linemen Teddy Marshall, David Dunn, Josh Miller, Matt Reglein and Mike Fulton and tight ends Ryan Kauffman and Kyle Fisher rarely, if ever, see their names in the paper, but they make the plays that put Chesson's name in the headlines each week.
"Without them, the record couldn't be done," said Chesson. "I give all of them the credit. They bust their tails just as much as I bust my tail. They've done everything they could to help me score the touchdowns I've made, so they deserve it just as much as I do. It's a team record."
The guys who won't get their names in the record book were just as excited to break the record as Chesson, who has scholarship offers from Towson and Buffalo and has also received interest recently from Maryland, Delaware and Old Dominion.
"It means a lot to me personally, because we're a big part of what Rob can do," Dunn, the center, said.
In Friday's 49-20 state semifinal victory over No. 4 Catonsville, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Chesson scored all seven of the Patriots' touchdowns and, in the first quarter, he broke the state single-season record of 43 set by Wicomico's David Brown in 2007.
Chesson has scored five or more touchdowns four times this fall and has rushed for 200 or more yards eight times. His 2,548 rushing yards are an Anne Arundel County single-season record.
To reach those milestones, the Patriots have their running game "down to a science," Holbrook said.
"Starting with the center and the quarterback exchange, we do a pretty good job keeping that clean and getting the ball to Rob. Our line is just real organized and precise in how we do things a certain way."
That comes from a veteran group of players knowing how their individual jobs merge into one successful unit — and from everyone putting in a year of work to fine tune their game.
"It's a difficult thing to sync all that up," said Arundel coach Chuck Markiewicz, whose Wildcats surrendered 233 yards and five touchdowns to Chesson in a 47-10 Old Mill victory Oct. 6. "Sometimes you don't have a good line and you've got a good back or vice versa, so the thing is it's married up very well. Their scheme, it's not very difficult on paper, but they all make it go."
First-year Old Mill coach Chad McCormick said his offense has good chemistry and was fiercely united in its quest for a state championship long before anyone thought seriously about records.
"They obviously have to do their assignments correctly on a play for it to be successful and a lot of that's desire," McCormick said. "Those guys want to run the football. We've done a pretty good job of pass protection, too, but if they have a choice, they want to run the football. They want to play that smash-mouth type of game. We're not a finesse type team. They're not the biggest guys in the world, but they work incredibly hard."
Catonsville coach Rich Hambor said the Patriots' line had no trouble adjusting to whatever he threw at them Friday night.
"They were able to do a variety of blocking styles," Hambor said. "We wanted to get them to spread out and zone block a little bit, because we thought we could cover them with our speed, but they did such a good job of that that [Chesson] was able to find some good cutback lanes. Then we tried to move outside and take those away, so they had to go between the tackles, but they were able to get together toe-to-toe and drive block down the field just as well. We really couldn't stop either one."
The Patriots' defense and special teams deserve kudos too, McCormick said, because they usually set up the offense in good field position. While some touchdowns — such as the one capping a 17-play, 99-yard drive against North Point in the regional final — take a lot of work, many others set up by turnovers or long returns involve only a short punch to the end zone.
Chesson is just the latest in a series of strong Old Mill running backs, including Ryan Callahan, Josh Furman, Jason Clements and Devon Brown, whom Chesson shared time with last season. This fall, he has 309 carries — nearly five times more than anyone else despite sitting out the second half of four lopsided games. Holbrook, who has picked up important yardage, has 63 carries for 390 yards and four touchdowns.
The entire offense rallied around Chesson to try to break the county single-season mark of 36 touchdowns set by Callahan in 2004, but the state record snuck up on most of the players.
Some of the guys heard a buzz around school or heard it from the coaches, but Kauffman said he didn't know they were close until he heard an announcement at the North Point game when Chesson scored his 42nd touchdown.
Although Chesson said early in the season that he would like to set a record, he said he didn't realize he was getting close until a few weeks ago when his uncle in California told him after finding Callahan's record online.
While the Patriots are thrilled to have the touchdown record, they have celebrated only a little bit. Their focus remains on winning their second state championship in three years.
"People always ask, 'Are you guys trying to break records?'" Fulton said. "Honestly, we're just trying to win a game, and it just happens."
Still, it's a hot topic in the hallways.
"In school, it's hard not to get caught up in it, because everybody's talking about it," Fisher said, "but at the same time you have to have that focus."
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