Have you noticed how well Anne Arundel County's public school football teams have done this season against teams from outside the county?
Have you also noticed the dramatically increasing passing numbers,which could be the answer to the county's success?
Simply put, county teams are passing more and winning more. Going into this weekend, county public high schools were 17-12 against outside opposition.
Eight of the 12 county public high schools are Class 4A and they finished playing out-of-county teams by going 12-7 overall and will play only county teams the rest of the way.
Class 3A Broadneck and the three Class 2A teams -- Northeast, Southern and South River -- have games left with non-county teams. Those four teams are a combined 5-5 against outside competition with Southern at 3-0 (wins against Hammond, Wilde Lake and Lackey).
Severna Park leads the 4A schools at 3-0 (Queen Anne's, Thomas Stone and Springbrook) followed by 2-0 North County (Eleanor Roosevelt and Crossland) and 2-0 Chesapeake (Owings Mills and Rockville).
Traditionally, Anne Arundel County teams have been miserable outside the county, producing only two state champions -- Arundel in 1975 and Annapolis in 1978, both in what was then Class AA. But has that era been passed by?
The image of Anne Arundel County high school football is only enhanced when we see North County perched atop the AP state poll with Southern at No. 14 and Severna Park at No. 20. It shows people are noticing beyond Ritchie Highway.
Only the Maryland Scholastic Association, with four teams ranked in the state Top 20, has more than Anne Arundel, which is tied with Montgomery and Prince George's for the most teams among the elite.
Obviously Anne Arundel County is gaining on the would-be powers around the state, and respect is growing for the programs.
One of the main reasons is in the air, the pigskin that is.
North County's passion for passing the football under coach Chuck Markiewicz actually began at Meade in 1989 and has raised the level of play in Anne Arundel County. There has never been such an awareness of the pass on both sides of the ball as there is now.
Going into this fifth weekend four county quarterbacks and possibly a fifth have a chance to throw for more than 1,000 yards. The county never has had more than two quarterbacks throw for 1,000 yards in a single season.
North County's Justin Rice had 15 touchdown passes and 892 yards passing before his game Friday and Broadneck's Sean Ryan stood at seven touchdown passes and 881 yards.
Southern's Joe McCafferty had 11 touchdown passes and 482 yards in his first four games and St. Mary's Brad Davis had only two touchdown passes, but 465 yards in the air.
Juan Johnson of Annapolis had four touchdown passes and 296 yards in his first four games and is an outside shot to hit 1,000. That would be five, but even four going over 1,000, which appears probable, is unheard of in Anne Arundel County.
Markiewicz, the county's architect of the run-and-shoot, first introduced his passing attack at Meade in 1989 with All-County quarterback Billy Maxwell. Maxwell threw for 12 touchdowns and 1,480 yards.
Pleased with the results, Markiewicz upon leaving Meade immediately installed run-and-shoot at North County in 1990. That season, Johnny Ray emerged as an All-County and All-Metro quarterback for the Knights with 16 touchdown passes and 2,020 yards.
No one else threw for 1,000 yards in '89 or '90, but two went over 900 in 1990 in Old Mill's Eric Scott (12 touchdown passes, 934 yards) and Darryl Foote (six, 936) of Annapolis.
Eric Howard took over as a junior at North County in 1991 and again the Knights had the only 1,000-yard passer when Howard threw for nine touchdown passes and 1,254 yards. Severn's All-County junior quarterback Brad Fowler was runner-up with 874 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Then, last season it finally happened -- two 1,000 yard passers, and nearly four. The All-County and All-Metro Howard tied Jason Boseck of Pallotti for a state-record 28 touchdown passes and threw for a county-record 2,356 yards. Broadneck's Alan Hartman passed for school records 1,913 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Fowler, with 11 touchdown passes and 910 yards, joined Severna Park's Tim Bowerman, who had 13 touchdown passes and 947 yards.
It sure looks like there will be four members in this year's 1,000 club, and each figures to lead his team to a winning season. It's conceivable that Rice and McCafferty could pass their teams into state championship games and Davis helps to make St. Mary's a competitive team in the MSA A Conference.
Ryan's Bruins have an outside shot at a 3A playoff berth, but have nevertheless generated a lot of excitement in Cape St. Claire.