Calvert Hall running back Kevin Tyler Jr. longs for the glory enjoyed by his father and uncle.
His father, Kevin Sr., 36, and uncle Gary, 40, played in title-winning football programs at Calvert Hall.
Gary, a Cardinals player until 1970, and Kevin Sr., a 1972 Calvert Hall graduate, both were members of Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference championship squads, making last year's 2-9 season a difficult one for Kevin Jr. to digest.
"They always bragged about how good their teams were, so last year, I was like, 'This can't be happening,' " said Tyler, a senior.
The situation was especially trying since Tyler -- who lived in East Baltimore until moving to Hagerstown after his fifth-grade year at St. Catherine Middle -- never had played on a losing team.
Starting in sixth grade, his Washington County League football team compiled records of 8-2 and 6-4. During Tyler's sophomore and junior seasons at Smithsburg High, the Leopards were 1A state runners-up, to Wilde Lake and Kent County.
Tyler didn't expect last year's disappointment. Calvert Hall went 9-2 and was ranked No. 5 in the area before his return to Baltimore.
"I wasn't used to losing, but I accepted it and just stuck with it," said Tyler, who has helped the Cardinals get off to a 2-0 start this season.
Tyler did his part last season, too, rushing for 1,237 yards and nine touchdowns while "adjusting" to a higher level of play.
"This was a different caliber of football than I was used to. Guys were bigger, stronger and faster," Tyler said. "But I'm really looking forward to this year."
Kevin Sr. lists educational reasons for their return to Baltimore. His son maintains a B average and scored 950 on his Scholastic Assessment Test.
"Football was Kevin's interest. And other than in family fun, we've been very conscious not to compare ourselves to him," said Kevin Sr. "It's important that he have his own style, and I don't want to put any pressure on him."
But Tyler, the Cardinals' top rusher with 260 yards and three touchdowns, has begun to feel the pressure of opposing defenses.
He was held scoreless and to 56 yards in the No. 7 Cardinals' 17-13 victory over No. 14 Perry Hall. But he rebounded with last weekend's 205-yard, three-touchdown effort in a 21-7 win over Old Mill.
"I expect teams to key on me, but all I can do is stay in the zone, not worry and play my game. If I continue to run hard, the yards will come," said Tyler, a 4.5-second, 40-yard -- sprinter. "This team's close, with no animosity. And I learned a long time ago how to get along with my teammates, to be a leader and to stay cool about things."
When Tyler's not racking up the big numbers, coach Bill Mackley expects Mike Callahan (124 yards this season) and Chris Nohe (164 yards) to share the responsibilities.
"I think Kevin's got to put together two good years, back to back, for anyone to think he's any kind of ball player," said Mackley. "But I've been a coach for 27 years, and I think I can say Tyler's a legitimate Division I candidate."
Tyler first picked up a football as a sixth-grader in Hagerstown, but he hit the ground running and shows little signs of slowing.
"The first thing I had to learn was that football's not about just running the ball wherever you want to," Tyler said. "I was fast for my age, and I learned the designed plays quickly.
"But one of the best things I learned is to remain a down-to-earth guy. I don't ever consider myself above anyone, and I know it takes more than one guy to win a football game."