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Football Game of the Week: No. 11 Old Mill at No. 10 Annapolis

No. 11 Old Mill (0-1) at No. 10 Annapolis (0-1)

When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

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Coaches: Chad McCormick, Old Mill; Nick Good-Malloy, Annapolis

Last meeting: Old Mill won, 15-14, last season

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KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH

Old Mill: LB-FB Dajour Thompson, Sr.; LB-TE Aaron Dawson, Sr.; LB Malik Mattox, Sr.; RB Isaiah Batts, Sr.; OL Cortez Floyd, Sr.; QB Markus Thompson, Jr.

Annapolis: ATH Omar'od White, Sr.; LB-WR Dayshawn Womack, Sr.; QB Ahmon Middleton, Jr.; LB-RB Deon Hunt, Soph.; S Delvin Johnson, Fresh.; OL-DL Chuck Taylor, Sr.

KEYS TO VICTORY

It's only the second week of the season and by late Friday night, either Annapolis or Old Mill — who combined for a 19-1 regular season a year ago — will be 0-2. In Class 4A East, where at least five teams are likely to contend for four regional playoff berths, that's a tough start.

"I wouldn't say it's a must-win, but it's a well-needed win,' McCormick said. "I remember there have been times where you never knew if 8-2 was going to be enough to get in."

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But McCormick also knows a team can rebound from an 0-2 start. In 2014, his Patriots lost their first two games and made it to the state final. That's why neither coach wants to put too much emphasis on a game so early in the season.

"It does have an impact on the end of the season and the playoffs, but it's still one game. We have eight more after this," Good-Malloy said. "We haven't beaten Old Mill in a long time, so we're trying not to look too far ahead."

The Patriots have won 12 straight in the series and haven't lost to Annapolis since 2005, rallying for all 15 points in the final 13:07 for the comeback win last fall. The Panthers, however, went on to win the regional championship and advance to the state semifinals for the first time since 2000. Old Mill rolled undefeated through Anne Arundel County but lost to Broadneck in the regional opener and then Annapolis beat Broadneck in the regional final.

Now both teams are young and that showed in their opening losses — Annapolis, 56-14, to No. 2 Archbishop Spalding and Old Mill, 42-0, to North Point, which is also in the East region. Both coaches said inexperience facilitated some of the mistakes but more than they would have expected. They hope their young teams grew up quickly last week against some of the state's better competition.

"For a lot of guys this was their first varsity game," Good-Malloy said, "and to go against a team like Spalding, I loved it because they saw the speed, the intensity and the physicality that we we need to play with if we want to have the successful season we envision. It was a good wake-up call for a lot of guys, because that's something that's hard to simulate in practice."

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Good-Malloy said he liked the way first-year quarterback Middleton stayed poised throughout the game. He completed most of his passes for short yardage, and scrambled well. However, the Panthers need to finish on defense, as the unit was often in position but didn't make the plays.

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To McCormick, his offensive line — usually a hallmark of the Patriots offense — played well at times and there were no turnovers, but he said there is a lot of room for improvement on offense, defense and special teams.

"Even though we finished the football game, I don't think we played a whole football game," said McCormick, whose team faced a running clock in the second half. "We sort of gave up. We have to learn to play the entire 48 minutes with this group. They've got to be able to handle adversity. Obviously, we have to find a way to stop people and score some points. That's the simplest thing about football. We've got to figure out what we're best at."

Good-Malloy said his players are eager to make up for last week.

"I think it's about the effort and intensity we play with," he said. "Our kids will be very well prepared and I think it will be a game that's competitive throughout four quarters. Against Spalding, it ended up being running clock and that's a fast second half and prior to that playing a scrimmage is not the same as playing a full game, so this is going to be a true test of will, going a full four quarters. Our game last year came down to the end, so I think it will be very competitive."

OTHER GAMES TO WATCH

— No. 5 Franklin at DeMatha, Friday, 7 p.m.

— No. 6 Mount Saint Joseph at Good Counsel, Friday, 7 p.m.

— Lansdowne at Catonsville, Friday, 7 p.m.

— River Hill at Oakland Mills, Friday, 7 p.m.

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