POTOMAC’S DEFENSE STIFLES DOUGLASS, 6-0

Brandywine, Maryland, September 15, 2018: Mi’Jean Hill of Potomac breaks away from a Douglass defender during a Prince George’s County 3A/2A/1A football game played at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, MD. (Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel).

 

BRANDYWINE – A high school football showdown between the Frederick Douglass Eagles and Potomac Wolverines was a tale of two defenses. However, it was Potomac’s defense that stood tall at the end as they handed Douglass their first loss of the season with a 6-0 victory on Sept. 15.

The entire first half was a defensive standstill by both sides, which left the score knotted at zero at halftime.

“I thought we could have capitalized,” Douglass Head Coach Julius Pinkney said. “We had some opportunities, but they did pressure us. They just played a little grittier then our guys played.

“We just couldn’t get some things off.  We misconnected on a few things. We fumbled the ball, we dropped the ball and we had some momentum killers that we kind of did ourselves. They played hard so I can’t take anything away from them. That’s how it is when you play against a really good program like Potomac; you know it’s going to be a 50/50 game.”

In the second half, Potomac switched up their game plan and relied on their rushing attack as they only went to the air one time the entire second half.  The duo of senior running backs, Mi’Jean Hill and Kevin Hayward Jr., led the way by combining for 131 yards in just the second half on 20 carries.

“We did a good job of pushing, and the line did a good job of blocking,” Hayward said.  “We just stuck with the game plan and executed really good. We could have done more play action, selling our fakes and catching the ball better.  We need to improve on our passing games, wide receivers doing their cuts and routes. We just got to keep working hard every day after practice and before practice.”


Brandywine, Maryland, September 15, 2018: Quarterback Dominque Anthony of Potomac launches a pass against Douglass during a Prince George’s County 3A/2A/1A football game played at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, MD. (Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel).

 

 

With 3:44 remaining in the third quarter, Potomac junior quarterback Dominique Anthony used his legs to make things happen. Anthony ran in for the first and only touchdown of the game with a 10-yard run.

“On that play, I was looking to pass, but the receiver didn’t get the call,” Anthony said about his touchdown run. “I tried to drop back and rolled to the left to see if anybody was open and I just decided to run. I had to break a couple of tackles, but I got in the end zone.

“I felt like we ran the ball pretty good and the O-line was blocking really hard.  We could have passed the ball a whole lot better and it was a lot of miscommunication.  We just have to work harder in practice and practice like we playing in the game to keep this momentum going.”

Following the score by Potomac, Douglass drove down the field and looked to score their first points of the game. However, with 58 seconds left in the third, senior free safety Jaquan Riddick forced a fumble and recovered it to give Potomac possession to close out the quarter.

“In practice, we set a game plan out,” Riddick said. “We wanted to shut them out and not let them score. We wanted to help the offense out.  They got a lot of big plays in the passing game. We just have to practice, keep the intensity up, full pace, full speed and get to moving to keep it up after this win.”

At the beginning of the final quarter, Potomac fumbled the ball on the very first snap of the quarter and gave the ball to Douglass in good field position. Despite that turnover, the Wolverines defense was nearly impenetrable and got the ball back in their offense’s hands and that was all she wrote for the Eagles.

Potomac is now 2-1, which is their best start since 2015. They will look to continue their success as they take on Fairmont Heights High School on Sept. 21.

Douglass shares the same record, but Pinkney is not worried about his team losing its first game of the season in this fashion.

“It’s a learning thing,” Pinkney said. “You can learn a lot from a loss. We don’t like to lose a lot, but when you lose, it’s a reason why you lost. As a coach, I have to go back and take a look.

“We have to fix some things and come out better. Our kids understand that we don’t point fingers around here. It’s a team effort whether we win or lose.  We know what we have to do as a club. It’s a lot of fight in our team, and we know we got a good team. All we got to do is fix the mistakes and that what my job is as a coach to do.  We’ll have our guys ready to play next week.”

Douglass’ next game to get back in the win column will be on the road against Largo High School on Sept 21.

LATE INTERCEPTION GIVES GWYNN PARK FIRST VICTORY OF THE SEASON

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September 8, 2018 – Lanham, Maryland – Gwynn Park running back Wynton Townsend (2) runs past Duval defenders during their high school football game on Sept. 8. (Credit Image: Chris Thompkins/ The Prince George’s Sentinel)

LANHAM – An intense football match between Gwynn Park High School and DuVal High School on Sept. 8 started off gloomy and wet due to a rainy afternoon in Lanham.

However, it ended with excitement as the game came down to one play in the final minutes.  It was sophomore cornerback Omarion Wood that sealed the deal late in the final period with an interception for Gwynn Park, which gave them a 12-10 road win for their first victory of the season.

“It was late in the game, and I just had the mindset that I have to make this play,” Wood said about his interception. “I saw the ball coming my way and went and got it.We all have confidence, and we kept that going throughout the game.  We adjusted well to what they were doing.”

In the first quarter, DuVal senior defensive back Aljareek Malry corralled an interception with 4:54 left in the first quarter. Although they forced a turnover, they could not get anything going on the offensive end which caused them to punt the ball.

On the ensuing punt, Gwynn Park special teams blocked DuVal’s punt and recovered it in the endzone for the first score of the game. Toward the end of the first, Gwynn Park senior quarterback Kamari Brown scored on a 26-yard run to give them a 12-0 lead to end the first quarter.

September 8, 2018 – Lanham, Maryland, – Gwynn Park quarterback Kamari Brown (3) passes the ball during a high school football football game against the DuVal Tigers. (Credit Image: Chris Thompkins/ The Prince George’s Sentinel)

 

 

 

 

The second quarter was a defensive stand for both teams as both sides went scoreless.

“I feel like we executed really well,” said Brown, who had the team’s only offensive touchdown to go along with 53 total yards. “It was sloppy, but we still executed and got the job done. I could have done better by putting the ball in better spots, or I could have changed plays.

“Even though the coach calls the plays, sometimes I have to take control and change the plays on my own.”

At the start of the second half, things started to look up for DuVal.  As Gwynn Park was set to receive the kickoff to begin the third quarter, they fumbled the ball on their own five-yard line, which gave DuVal excellent field position.

DuVal had an opportunity to convert that turnover into some points on the board, but they came up short. The Tigers ran the ball four times, but the Gwynn Park defense stopped them as they had done all game.

“The fumble on the kickoff that gave them the ball in our own territory was the difference between the two halves,” Gwynn Park Head Coach Danny Hayes said.

“We are a very young team and only have one player back from last year.  We stayed together, stayed tight as a team and made sure we did the right things. We need just to take this win, put it away and go for the next game.  Just concentrate on one team at a time.  Once we can do that, get things going, get ourselves well-prepared and just have to keep moving.  Just limiting our mistakes is the biggest problem.”

After Gwynn Park could not score on their offensive possession, DuVal’s special teams blocked a punt that put them on their opponent’s five-yard line again for the second time this game.

Last time the Tigers had four attempts to get in and failed, but this time they would not be denied.

Senior quarterback Akil Woods Jr. performed a quarterback sneak on the goal line that gave DuVal their first score of the game. He then threw a short pass to senior running back Corey Ewing Jr. for the two-point conversion to make the score 12-8 halfway through the third with Gwynn Park still leading. Woods finished the game with the team’s only touchdown to go along with 88 total yards.

The fourth quarter came down a significant turnover in the final seconds of the game. After Hayes designed a play that gave Gwynn Park a safety, which made the score 12-10 with 2:10 left in the game, DuVal had more shot to get into the endzone.

They drove halfway down the field, but that is when Wood saved the day for Gwynn Park with his game-winning interception with just over a minute left in the game. DuVal got the ball back with seconds left on the clock, but they missed on two hail mary attempts which ended the game.

Even though DuVal lost their first game of the season, Head Coach Carlos Lockwood believes that his team is in good shape and should not be worried.

“I had one message for my team,” Lockwood said.  “All this means is that we are going to go undefeated after this game. We are going to be right back at it tomorrow with a coaches meeting and get back on the drawing board. We got Urbana week three, and we have to close out. Now let’s go 1-0 week three and then we’ll finish out week-by-week.”

LARGO FOOTBALL MAKES IT RAIN ON CENTRAL

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CAPTIOL HEIGHTS – The running back tandem of junior Larry Williams and senior Malik Griffin lifted Largo High School over Central High School during a high school football match on Sept. 1.

The torrential downpour of rain overshadowed the entire first half. However, Largo brought a storm of its own offensively on the road as they shutout Central 28-0 to win their first game of the season.

“We were a little rusty in the first half, but the line held their blocks good,” Williams said, who finished with 16 carries for 91 yards, three touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

“We need to run more and execute more plays. I could have stayed a little lower when I was running through the holes. I felt like we underachieved and that we could have put up way more points. My freshman year, we put up 50 against Central and last year, we put up 40 against them. We know we should have done way better.”

The first quarter was messy both literally and figuratively, due to weather conditions and sloppy play to go along with it. Largo fumbled a punt, and then, on the very next play Central gave the ball right back with a fumble during an exchange in the first quarter. That essentially summed the ineptitude of both squads in a scoreless first frame. In the second quarter, the weather got better as well as the play of Largo.

Williams set the tone in the second quarter with his first of three rushing touchdowns of the evening with a five-yard run. Griffin gave Largo even more momentum after he broke off a 58-yard run and capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run that gave Largo a 14-0 lead going into halftime.

“I felt like we handled adversity well,” Largo Head Coach Derron Thomas said.  “We had a lot going on today. It was very hot and humid. To start off, we had the game delayed an hour and then the first half was a monsoon, which left the field in bad conditions.

“Obviously, we have a lot of work to do. The defense was a little leaky for my taste when the game started, and we just have to secure our run game. It was kind of hard to get anything accomplished in the air today, so I can’t really evaluate where we are in that sense, but we just have to get better one day at a time.”

In the third quarter, both teams came out a little rusty as they both went scoreless in a quarter for the second time. The highlight of the period was Griffin, not with his legs on offense, but with his hands as he grabbed an interception on defense right before going out of bounds and kept his balance along the sideline.

“I felt like the defense stopped their offense up front, and then it made it easier for me to do my job,” Griffin said.

“On offense, I was just reading my blocks and hitting the holes. I felt like when I had that (58-yard run), that set the tone for the offense to score more points. I felt we did well at executing and fighting through adversary like the weather.”

Williams ended the game in the fourth quarter as he scored his second and third rushing touchdowns of the game.

“The execution has to be a lot better,” Thomas said. “We started really slow.  I don’t want to make excuses, but I think the weather did play a role in that early on because it was kind of tough to get anything going from a run game or a pass game standpoint. We just have to tighten up some loose ends, and I feel like we can score more points to be a more explosive offense.”

Largo will start the season 1-0, after winning just two games last year.  Their next game is their home opener on Sept. 7 against Perryville High School.

As for Central, the Falcons have not had a winning season since 2008.  However, first-year Head Coach Angel Garcia thinks that the time for change is now.

“We need to just work on our discipline and being more consistent,” Garcia said.  “I’m trying to turn around the losing ways around here and the losing mentality.  I feel our kids have the ability, but we just have to learn how to be a winning team.

“It’s going to take time with this group. We are very young and we have a lot of sophomores and juniors. I only have maybe four seniors on this team so we are still learning how to play the game of football and we learning how to be a champion. I love their initiative. Now I just have to teach them to be consistent.”

A NEW COMMITTED POTOMAC TEAM EYES STATE TITLE

Left: August 20, 2018 – Oxon Hill Maryland, – Potomac coach Ronnie Crump runs drills with his running backs during practice at Potomac HS (Credit Image: Chris Thompkins/Prince George’s County Sentinel.

Right: Potomac junior starting quarterback Dominique Anthony (Michael Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel)

 

OXON HILL – The Potomac Wolverines reached the 3A state semifinals in 2015 and 2016. Last season was supposed to be the year that they finally made it through the roadblocks to the state final game, but things did not go as planned.

Potomac ended last season with their worst record (5-6) in over a decade and the worst record under nine-year Head Coach Ronnie Crump, but said with the loss of seven defensive starters and five offensive starters from last season, Crump and the Wolverines will have to work together to reach that state championship game. But the talent has always been there.

“This program is built to have an attitude of trying to play 14 games a year,” Crump said. “The last three of the four years we won regional championships and made it to the state-semifinal, which wasn’t good enough for this program.

“I’ve been around here 20 years, and I’ve seen us get to that level before. We are just trying to get the program back to that championship level.”

One of the offensive leaders last year was junior starting quarterback Dominique Anthony. Anthony had 2100 total yards and threw for 22 touchdowns last season. Anthony believes that his squad can not only win states this season but also go undefeated.

“We need to the put ball in the end zone more and commit fewer turnovers,” Anthony said. “We need to work on catching the ball and executing plays. “We need actually to commit, come to practice every day, keep working hard, not taking any days off and just grinding every day.

“I, myself, can make better reads and study more, but we are strong at running the ball right now, and we just got a new offensive coordinator, so we need to learn new plays.”

Anthony will have the services of senior running back Kevin Hayward who is primed and ready for a big year. He averaged more than four yards per carry last season.

Hayward thinks that Potomac could have had a successful season last year if they “approached the game more seriously because last year they were playing around a lot.”

Hayward went on to say that the team did not take the practices seriously either. The players would hang out the night before practices, and it would affect their practice and game performance. However, this year’s team is more committed to achieving the goal of winning more games this upcoming season with a talented group of returning players.

“We got to take it one game at a time and work hard,” Hayward said. “If we look too far ahead at the championship, we could fall short. So we are just trying to take it one practice, one game at a time. I will be a leader, run the ball hard and set the tone on offense.”

One of the bright spots from last season was their defense, which allowed just under 17 points per game to their opponents. One of the defensive leaders on that team is five-foot-eight, 312-pound senior defensive lineman Nasiem Farmer.

Farmer was a force to be reckoned with on the frontline last season with 32 tackles. He expects this defense, along with the rest of the team to make it to the state championship game and go undefeated.

“Last year, we only won five games, but we had all the talent in the world,” Farmer said. “Our strengths on defense is everybody knowing their assignment and everybody executing our weaknesses like tackling, but we going to get there.

“It was just a lack of leadership last season. This season I plan on my fellow captains taking on the team and me. I feel I can set an example in the game, drive them and I won’t let anyone slack. I can study more.  I can make sure at the team meetings everybody be quiet and lead the team on and off the field by getting good grades and showing them what a leader is supposed to be.”

Potomac’s road to the state championship begins on Aug. 31 at Gwynn Park High School.

“We just need to realize how close we are and our kids know that,” Crump said. “We have to the understand the seriousness of the type of program we are.  They have to realize what they involved in. That’s how Potomac is and how it’s always been. That’s what it is to me, that’s what it is to the alumni and that’s what it is to the community. These gentlemen here just have to realize it and understand you in a good place.”

DEMATHA LOOKS TO REGAIN THE WCAC CROWN

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Top: DeMatha senior quarterback Eric Najarian (Michael Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel.

Bottom: DeMatha running back Marshawn Lloyd (Michael Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel

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HYATTSVILLE – DeMatha Catholic High School has had one of the best athletic programs in the country for the better part of a century. Over the past fifteen years, DeMatha has won ten Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championships, with four of those championships coming within the past five years.

Despite their success during that span, they were in unfamiliar territory last year. Last season, DeMatha posted their worst regular season record in over a decade with a 6-5 record.

The Stags went on to the playoffs but were knocked out in the first round by eventual champion St John’s College High School. It was their first time not making it to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championship game since 2011.

Even though their backs are against the wall, DeMatha believes that they can regain their top spot in the WCAC and vie for another championship trophy.

“I think it’s all in our preparation,” DeMatha Head Coach Elijah Brooks said.  “We obviously set our goals high at the beginning of the year.  We want to win a conference championship, but the margin of error in the WCAC is extremely thin.

“Everything we do from film study to practicing hard every day to execution, it all matters when you go against talented teams. We have the talent, and we have the personnel, we have the coaching staff to do it.

“Now we just have to come out and be ready to go.  We want to win a conference championship.”

DeMatha will enter the season losing five starters on defense and on offense.  However, the most significant transition will be senior quarterback Eric Najarian taking over as the starting quarterback position after starting the second half of the season last year.

After last season’s starting quarterback Tyler Lenhart completed seven of 19 passes for 54 yards in a game against Gonzaga last season, Najarian took over as the starter. This time, Najarian will start the season as the man under center.

“Nothing changes for me as far as the preparation for this season because when you’re a backup quarterback, you have to prepare as a starter,” Najarian said. “When you get thrust into a starting role, you have to be prepared when that time comes.”

In seven games last season, Najarian threw for 655 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions and completed 50 percent of his passes. Despite this being his first season as the starter in training camp, Najarian has high hopes for this unit for the upcoming season.

“I really want us to play as a team and come together with what we have done so far in camp,” Najarian said. “Our goal is to really just go 1-0 every week and figure the rest of it out as it goes.

“I think I need to just lead the team, push them every day and just get better.  I know we have plenty of playmakers and I need to just get the ball in their hands. We have a great offensive line up front. I really look forward to this season with this team.  Our strength is just coming out here every day as a team.  I honestly don’t see weak point for us.”

One of Najarian’s targets this season will be senior wide receiver Jermaine Johnson Jr.  Johnson lead the team in receiving yards (400) and receptions (23) last season and believes this team can get back on track this season if they work together.

“My expectations for this year are for us to be a team, actually work together and to complete the goal of going 1-0 every week,” Johnson said.  “We are competitive. Everybody wants to be on that starting lineup.  Everybody wants to be better than the next person.  I believe if everybody on the team has that same mentality that could go a long way for us and probably give us a better outcome than the season last year. We just need to communicate.”

Senior safety DeMarcco Hellams has been with the DeMatha varsity football team since he was a freshman.

In 2019, he will take his talents to the infamous and arguably the best college football program in the world, the University of Alabama. Hellams wants to leave a lasting impression his senior year and show Alabama why they made the right choice in recruiting him.

“The goal is to win a WCAC championship,” Hellams said. “The difference this year from last year is that we have a better mindset and we don’t feel entitled to win a championship. I know last year we didn’t win it, but before that, we won four straight.

We just got to come in and work hard so what happened last year won’t happen again. It helps that we’re all brothers and we hang out with each other off the field and that we care for each other on and off the field.  No matter how good we think we are, there is always room for improvement.  We got to make sure that everybody is doing their job and that nobody is trying to be a hero. Just sticking to the game plan and making plays when the time comes.”