Broadneck's football team is not going to be confused with pass-crazy North County and its run-and-shoot offense, but the Bruins may draw comparisons.
Bruins' fourth-year coach Jeff Herrick plans to put the ball in the air this fall more than ever before.
Last fall on the way to a surprising 5-5 campaign, the Bruins threw the pigskin 170 times. That apparently wasn't enough for Herrick.
"We're not going to throw it 400 times like Chuck [Markiewicz, North County head coach], but we are going to throw much more than we did," said Herrick.
"I'm tired of beating my head against the wall trying to run the ball. It just hasn't worked for us. I feel more confident with a plan to throw it more this year."
Herrick's confidence is fueled by a trio of quarterback candidates, an excellent corps of receivers and "the best line we've had since I've been here."
Senior Alan Hartman appears to have the edge at quarterback but is being pressed by juniors Sean Ryan and Mike Dabbs.
Hartman played JV two years ago at Broadneck before moving to St. Mary's County and Chopticon High last year.
Dabbs is up from the JV while Ryan is playing football for the first time. A member of the school's basketball and baseball teams, Ryan, who is 6-foot-6, was coaxed out to football by Herrick's defensive coordinator Ken Kazmarek.
Whoever ends up at the controls will throw behind a huge line that averages about 231 pounds a man. Sophomore tackle Anthony Arnone is the biggest at 6-3 and 270 pounds, and Herrick said he "has shown unbelievable improvement from his freshman year on JV."
Sophomore John McGinnis (6-3, 260) will man the other tackle position with junior Steve DePaul (6-1, 245) and senior Mike McLaughlin (6-1, 205) at the guards. Senior defensive stalwart Todd Bramble (5-11, 185) will line up at center when not playing linebacker.
"This is a very intelligent group in every facet," said Herrick, pointing to three of his linemen who boast grade-point averages of 3.5 or better. "They're skilled and very smart. They've got me excited."
Senior Bob Weatherly and sophomore Jason Smith head a speedy receiver corps. Herrick said Weatherly, who anchors the Bruin secondary on defense, has great hands.
Smith is quick with good hands. He did not play high school football last season but was a star on the Pasadena Chargers 135-pound Anne Arundel County youth football league champion.
Herrick believes he has the perfect running back to complement his passing attack in senior Chuck Eaton. Eaton, a hard-driving fullback, rushed for nearly 350 yards and four touchdowns as a junior.
Herrick's confidence does not wane when the Bruins are on defense.
Noted for coaching aggressive, hard-hitting defense, Herrick welcomes back five starters from last year's varsity, four of them seniors. DePaul is the only underclassman in the group, and he will be in the middle of the action on the Bruins' defensive line.
Bramble and Matt Konrad return at linebacker, while Weatherly does at defensive back and Jason Haull at cornerback.
"Defense should be a strength because all those guys started most of last season," said Herrick.
The five were part of a defense that limited opponents to only 111 points in 10 games. The Broadneck defense enabled the Bruins to stay in most of their games and saw them come up 1-1 against the county's two Class 4A playoff teams, Old Mill and North County.
After a stunning 6-3 upset of Old Mill in the sixth week of the season, Broadneck dropped a 20-16 heart-breaker to North County in the final game.
Herrick hopes that for the first time in his years as coach the Bruins will beat South River in the opener.
Last year, the Bruins fell, 6-3, to the Seahawks in OT after 6-0 and 7-6 losses to South River in his first two years.
That first game almost has set the tone for the rest of what annually has been a sputtering offense for the Bruins. This year Herrick hopes to pass away old times.