Arundel coach Bill Zucco says his quarterback, Erik Lipton, "is the class of the league right now."
Lipton has guided the No. 5 Wildcats to a 5-0 start, and Zucco says he has put them in a position to control their playoff destiny.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Lipton has completed 52 of 87 passes for 801 yards and seven touchdowns, all county-leading totals, to help Arundel take charge of the Class 4A East Region race.
After a freshman JV season, Lipton started for the varsity last year as a sophomore. He is starting to draw comparisons to such former Arundel standout quarterbacks as Neal Herrick and left-hander Mike Coyle.
Herrick led Arundel to its only football state title in 1975.
Coyle, a 1980 graduate and one of three quarterbacks on the Anne Arundel County Sun All-Decade ('80s) Team, led the Wildcats to three consecutive playoff appearances before going to rewrite the record book at Shepherd College.
"Erik has the size and tools to go somewhere," said Zucco, referring to Lipton's college potential. Zucco was an assistant during the Herrick and Coyle years.
"It's important for us to have a good year for some people to come out and take a look at him. He's not a drop-back quarterback in our wing-T, but he could be refined to do that."
Zucco noticed Lipton's leadership qualities on the basketball court, where he was "the floor leader of our JV the last two seasons and he really seemed to enjoy the responsibility."
"This year in football he has really come into his own as our leader," Zucco said.
Such schools as Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia and Virginia Tech are showing some interest.
"Those schools know about him. Erik is pretty smart, makes good decisions," said Zucco. "Because of his ability, we are able to throw the football more, and I like to throw.
"We've got some guys who can catch it like Joe Parker and Darnerian McCants and we can take advantage of that because Erik can get it to them."
Lipton was in and out last year with injuries as Arundel advanced to the playoffs for the first time since 1985.
The Wildcats lost to eventual state champion North County, 39-15, in the quarterfinals with Lipton fighting a neck injury, but included in their 8-3 season was a 28-14 victory over the Knights in the regular season with Lipton at quarterback.
"It's our goal to win the county and do good in the playoffs this year," said Lipton. "This team gets along great and loves pressure. We've showed that the last couple weeks with a seven- to eight-minute, 90-yard drive against Chesapeake to win, 34-25, and the North County win last week."
Had it not been for the transfer of a close friend, Lipton might not be starting at Arundel.
Pat Cilento, who grew up playing in the Crofton Cardinals youth program with Lipton, started at Arundel his freshman and sophomore seasons before transferring to Sherwood in Montgomery County last year. It's conceivable Lipton and Cilento could meet in this year's 4A state playoffs.
Cilento has led his team to a 5-0 record.
Lipton's father, Chet, played basketball and baseball at the University of Maryland, coached Erik in football from age 8 until high school, and was Erik's JV basketball coach at Arundel.
"My dad has taught me a lot and been an influence on any success I've had," said Lipton. "I need to keep working on my arm strength and picking up receivers, so I can get a chance to play at the next level."