EAGLES DEVOUR HORNETS IN REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

Douglass Eagles defeat Fairmont Heights Hornet in MPSSAA 1A regional playoff.Douglass Eagles defeat Fairmont Heights Hornet in MPSSAA 1A regional playoff.

TOP: November 16, 2018: Douglass Eagles wide receiver Malik Pettaway (4) stiff arms Fairmont Heights Hornets middle linebacker Ricardo Jackson (6) during the MPSSAA 1A Football Playoff game between the Douglass Eagles and the Fairmont Heights Hornets at Fairmont Heights High School in Fairmont Heights, Maryland. Photo by Cory Royster/The Prince George’s Sentinel.

BOTTOM: November 16, 2018: Fairmont Heights Hornets running back Kemani Rhodes (1) is met by a host of Douglass Eagles defenders during the MPSSAA 1A Football Playoff game between the Douglass Eagles and the Fairmont Heights Hornets at Fairmont Heights High School in Fairmont Heights, Maryland. Photo by Cory Royster/The Prince George’s Sentinel.

CAPITOL HEIGHTS – Last season, Frederick Douglass High School and Fairmont Heights High School met in the regional semifinals of the playoffs.

This season, both teams took it a step further and had a thrilling Friday Night Lights showdown on Nov. 16 for the 1A south regional football championship.  Douglass shutout Fairmont Heights in the regional semifinals game last year after a masterful 38-0 victory.

Although this year’s match was much more competitive, the result remained the same. Led by their staggering defense and balanced offensive game, Douglass came away with the regional championship with a hard-fought 20-12 win over Fairmont Heights.

This playoff game did not disappoint as both teams came out ready.  With less than two minutes into the game, Fairmont Heights quarterback Anthony Craven had some miscommunication with his team and fumbled the ball. Defensive end senior James Izzard, who played football for the first time this year, recovered the fumble for Douglass and took it to the opponent’s one-yard line.

Following the turnover, senior running back Cameron Munoz ran in from one yard out for the first score of the game.

With playoff intensity on their mind, Douglass went for the two-point conversion early and made it an 8-0 game.

“When it came down to that play, I was just sitting there like this is amazing,” Izzard said with watery eyes.  “I’ve never seen something like that coming, but when I got it, I knew that was going to be a game changer. I wanted to make a point and set a tone so that we can come out here do what we do every single game and that’s work hard and love on each other every single day.

“We come out here every single time and tell each other, ‘we got to do this, and we got to win.’  We come together as brothers, and if we don’t do that, then we fall apart, and I pray to God we don’t fall apart any day.”

That play by Izzard changed the momentum as Douglass forced two more turnovers, scored another rushing touchdown and held Fairmont Heights to zero points all in the first half. Douglass was the underdog on paper, but they played like they were right at home.

“We watched a lot of film on the dominant guys for Fairmont, and they don’t go down easy,” junior safety Geo-Di Tolbert, who had a second quarter interception, said. “We tackled good, we covered good and got out with the W.”

Although Douglass was off to a good start with a 14-0 lead at halftime, they lost their starting running back Munoz to a lower-body injury.  Despite that, Douglass had other players step up to fill that void like junior running back Zavier Price. Price had 17 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown as he was a key factor to the success of the offense.

“I give credit to all of my line and my lead blockers,” Price said. “All you have to do is read them, and they do a great job, work hard. I feel like everybody played as a team. It’s not like one person doing a good job, and it’s a team effort. I feel like just have to look at the mistakes that we did offensively and defensively and get better at practice. Just keep moving and pushing and we going to go all the way.”

In the second half, Fairmont Heights came out with a different energy. In the third period, they forced a turnover and on their next offensive drive, running back Kemani Rhodes ran the ball into the end zone for their first touchdown of the game, which made it a 14-6 game early in the third quarter.

The defense stepped up as well as they made multiple big plays, such as forced fumbles, fumble recoveries and numerous stops on fourth down.  Even though things started to look up, the offense could not turn the stops by the defense into points, and time was not on their side.

In the final quarter, Douglass played clock management with a 14-6 lead, and things looked bad for Fairmont Heights.

With 2:29 left in the game, Douglass got too comfortable and passed the ball. Michael Howard for Fairmont got the interception and ran it back for a touchdown, which made it a 12-14 game.

With the game on the line, Fairmont Heights went for two points but came up short.  To put the icing on the cake, Price broke off a 29-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left in the game that sent Douglass the state semifinal game.

“We knew that Fairmont Heights had been tough all year,” Douglass Head Coach Julius Pinkney said. “They were dynamic, and that was definitely a concern of ours, trying to keep them out of the end zone.

“Offensively we struggled getting points but we moved the ball all season, but I knew we had to score points tonight to beat a team like this because they are so dangerous. I believe Dunbar is our next opponent and they are built similar to Fairmont Heights, so that’s a good thing for us in preparation being a little bit familiar with them.

“At this point, we just have to get healthy.  We’ve been here before with the injuries, so we are going to put our best guys out there and see how it goes.”

CAVALIERS REACH PLAYOFFS AFTER 23-YEAR DROUGHT

 

Left: October 27, 2018: Crossland running back Darius McBride (28) carries the ball during a PG County high school football game at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, MD. Photo by Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel

Right: October 27, 2018: Quarterback Justin Holloway (3) carries the ball during a PG County high school football game at Crossland High School in Temple Hills, Maryland. Photo by Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel

TEMPLE HILLS – Players of the Crossland Cavaliers football team ran up to the coaching staff on the sideline with Gatorade buckets and poured water all over them in celebration for something that has not been done for a while.

For the first time in 23 years, Crossland High School is heading to the postseason after securing a 34-12 victory over the Parkdale Panthers on Nov. 3.  Crossland was led by their senior quarterback Justin Holloway, who finished the day with four total touchdowns.

“Our offense was so successful today because it starts with our offensive line,” Holloway said.  “Without the O-line, you can’t do nothing on the field.  You can’t get a yard, and all you are going to do is keep going back.

“So, I had to keep them up and keep pushing them forward. We just have to keep our heads tall so that we can go all the way.  “We made it to the playoffs now, so why not go all the way?  We need to just improve on some discipline and work on our strategies.  I like us to just play as a team.”

Crossland did not waste any time as they got off to a hot start.

On their first drive of the game, senior running back Darius McBride broke off an 88-yard touchdown that set the tone for the rest of the game.  McBride was a pivotal piece to Crossland’s offense and finished the day with the game with 15 carries for 156 yards and one touchdown.

“We had good discipline today,” McBride said.  “Everybody was doing their part and fighting for each other. The offense is a team game.

“You have to fight for each other, block for each other, run hard, and we have to want it. We just need to condition more, keep our heads in the game and stick together for the playoffs.”

After that run by McBride, Holloway threw his first touchdown pass of the afternoon to junior wide receiver Anthony James, Jr., which put Crossland up 12-0 in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Parkdale responded with a one-yard quarterback sneak by senior Ta’Ron Hewan that cut the score down to 12-6 late in the first half.  However, Holloway threw a 50-yard bomb to sophomore Jeremiah Gibson for a touchdown to end the half and gave Crossland a 20-6 lead at halftime.

In the second half, Crossland forced three turnovers and turned them into points. Holloway continued to lead the way as he threw and ran for his third and fourth touchdowns of the contest; Holloway finished with two rushing and two passing touchdowns.

Although Crossland had three passing touchdowns, they were more effective with their ground game as they finished with 262 rushing yards as opposed to 73 passing yards.

“I thought we ran the ball well today, but toward the end there, I thought I was going to the air a little bit too much, and we weren’t able to take time off the clock at the end,” Crossland’s fourth-year Head Coach Eric Knight said. “We ran the ball because we thought we outmatched them size-wise.  The plan was to run the ball when we are going into the wind and when we had the wind at our back we passed the ball.”

With Crossland going into territory they have not been to in more than two decades, this win showed the tenacity and perseverance of the Cavaliers.

“It’s been since 1995 that Crossland has been in the playoffs,” Knight said. “I been in the playoffs most of my career, so I just feel like it’s a special time of year. It’s a time where you have to make sure you practice hard every day because it’s one-and-done in the playoffs.

“So, you can’t have any halfway practices or anything like that. You just have to prepare and come out there and give it your best shot every play, every day. We just have to work on our penalties and work on not having breakdowns in pass protection and other areas like that.”

WILLIAMS AND THE RUN GAME PUSHED LAUREL FOOTBALL TO COMMANDING WIN

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LAUREL – The Laurel High School football team ran all over High Point, literally with their ground game, on Oct. 20.

Laurel’s offense scored six rushing touchdowns’ on their way to a dominant 47-0 victory for their second straight win, led on offense by junior running back and wide receiver Jaheem Williams.

The first quarter was the Williams show as he made a case of offensive performance of the year with four first quarter touchdowns. Williams broke off a 25-yard touchdown early in the first period for the first score of the game. After a forced fumble and recovery by Laurel’s defense, Williams ran for a 32-yard touchdown on the very next play.

Following a failed offensive drive by High Point, they decided to punt to Williams, which was also a bad idea. Williams returned the punt 55 yards for his third touchdown of the quarter.  The junior then ended the period with a 23-yard run for his fourth score and gave his team a 33-0 lead as they headed into the second quarter. Williams finished the game with 8 carries for 113 yards, three rushing touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown.

“Honestly I have to give it all to my teammates,” Williams said of his first quarter success.  “Without them, nothing would be possible.  We knew that this was a big game so it was a lot of pressure for us but I think we handled it really good.  Overall, we are predominantly a running team and when we run, we do that we have to do, which is execute.

“When we execute we do big things.  I’m always giving my teammates advice.  If we’re fallen down, I try to pick them up and help them as much as I can.  I know that my team feeds off of me and I know that they look up to me in a way, so I have to fulfill that position and always keep them up.”

Another player who was part of that first quarter run game was junior starting quarterback and running back Roy Wesley.  Wesley, who only threw one pass the entire game, had a seven-yard touchdown run in the first period as well.  Wesley finished the game with six carries for 44 yards, a touchdown and a two-point conversion.

“I have to give credit to the offensive line,” Wesley said.  “The line wasn’t really getting and understanding it throughout the season, but today they really played with their hearts and did their job.  I think we was so effective because we wanted to win. This past season, was just lollygagging and taking this lightly, but this week, we wanted to come out and show out for the seniors. We have to come to practice at 2:30 every day and grind it on the field. We weren’t doing that at first, but we doing it now.”

In the second quarter, senior running back and slot wide receiver Neko Grant got in on the Laurel rushing attack.  Grant got good blocks on the line and down the field as he ran for a 42-yard touchdown that pushed their lead to 39-0 as they went into halftime.  He closed the game with four carries for 79 yards and a touchdown.

“First, all credit goes to the o-line,” Grant said.  “These running backs wouldn’t be nothing without the o-line.  I think it was 50-50 with play calling and execution on the offensive end.  Coach (Micheal) Mayo made the right plays and we just executed.  Execution is big for Coach Mayo.  We always stick to hard work before talent.  Practice has to be 110 percent every day.”

In the second half, senior running back Jawad Singleton took over the ground game for Laurel.  Singleton scored his only touchdown of the game with 12 seconds left. Singleton had 10 carries for 83 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon.

“I do what I what I always do which is use my strength and speed at the same time and getting down the field every time I get the ball,” Singleton said.  “Practicing the same plays over and over again gets into our heads.  We just have to come to practice every day ready to work and we should be straight.  Everything could be done better.

Although Laurel’s offensive run game was the headline of the day, their defense was also effective.  The defense allowed zero points, forced three turnovers and held High Point’s entire offense to a total of 47 yards.

“I got back into my coverage, seen the ball in the air and I just went up and got it,” junior cornerback Markus Smith said of his first half interception.  “We just trusted our coaching, came out and played like how we normally played and came out with the W. There’s always room to improve but we are just going to enjoy this win and come out better next week.”

After they started their season 1-5, Laurel has outscored their opponents 68-0 over the last two games and have turned their season.

“We just have to keep our heads,” Head Coach Michael Mayo said.  “We been through a lot this year. We should have won more games and we lost close games. We had a lot of opportunities in games like this and it didn’t happen.

“We were playing down to the level, but I think it be senior day and they wanted to send the seniors out in a good way.  I saw some leadership today where players stepped up and they said ‘we going to get this done today.’ You stop lowering yourself to the competition and you look up, and you’re in a game. They had a little bounce in their step today which is good.”

As for High Point, they have now lost two straight games and have been outscored 82-7 over the last two games.

“It just comes down to effort,” High Point Head Coach Wilbert Brinson, Sr. said.  “The X’s and O’s are overrated. You just have to want to make a play. At the end of the day it came down to just effort.  I’m still proud of the boys. They came out and played, they suited up and they just have to take it as a life experience at this point. We stick together in the good and bad and that’s what I told them. We got to strap it up and come back because we got two games remaining, so it’s all going to start on Monday.”

PUMAS FOOTBALL MAUL CLIPPERS

PG County Football: Wise vs Oxon Hill

Saturday, October 13, 2018: Running back Brandon Bell (21) of Wise drives into the end zone for a second quarter touchdown during a high school football game between Oxon Hill and Wise played at Clipper Stadium in Oxon Hill, MD. Photo by Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel.

OXON HILL – The potent rushing attack of the Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. High School’s football team was on full display during a matchup against Oxon Hill on Oct. 13, leading to six rushing touchdowns combined by two seniors, quarterback Quinton Williams and running back Brandon Bell.

Bell rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns on only nine carries while  Williams rushed for two touchdowns and accumulated 209 total yards.  These two studs used their legs to lead Wise to a dominant 55-0 shutout victory over Oxon Hill.

“Today I took pride and putting the offense and the team on my back,” said Williams, who finished the game with three touchdowns. “The coaches told me we’re a better team when I’m aggressive and to do well with my feet.

“It puts more pressure on the defense when I run the ball, so I try to do that a lot more now.  I feel we had a really good game on all sides of the ball. I feel like we took control of the game, especially up front. The receivers made good plays, and our running backs made big plays and me. We just came together and helped each other out.  I think our offense kick-started the game off well.”

The Wise offense fired off quickly on all cylinders. In just under three minutes in the first quarter, Williams broke off for a 24-yard run for the first  score of the game.  Moments later, Williams also showed his throwing ability as he tossed a 23-yard strike to junior wide receiver Anthony Morales to out to put Wise up 14-0.  To add insult to injury, as time winded down in the first, senior wide receiver Isaiah Hazel scored on a 29-yard rush to make the score 21-0.

The second quarter did not get better for Oxon Hill as Wise continued with their aggressive offense.

Bell scored two rushing touchdowns in less than four minutes that increased the lead to 35-0 midway through the second quarter.  Williams got back in the action as he finished his stat-filled first half with a 52-yard touchdown run, which gave Wise a 41-0 as they went into halftime.

“I basically used my vision and also the O-line played a big part today,” Bell said of his running success.

“Honestly, I feel like I’m an all-around back. We came together as a group, and I broke a few off.  We made big-time plays and Williams did what he had to do, which was stay in the pocket, stay poised and throw the ball downfield.”

On very first play of the second half, Bell broke off for a 64-yard touchdown that gave them a 48-0 lead. That big play sealed the deal for Wise as they cruised to their fourth consecutive win. Although the offense was the story of the game, the defense held the Clippers scoreless and stopped Oxon Hill on multiple big fourth-down plays.

“The defense stayed focus, and we played as a team,” said senior cornerback Tamar Campbell, who had the only turnover of the entire game with a late fourth quarter interception. “We rallied to the football and everything that we did throughout practice showed today to win this game.  We just have to keep playing as a whole, keep rallying to the football, keep maintaining focus and practicing hard and playing hard.”

With this dominating win over Oxon Hill, Wise will go to 5-1 on the season and will look for their fifth-straight victory against Eleanor Roosevelt on the road next week.

“I think we executed well today,” Wise Head Coach DaLawn Parrish said.  “We’re doing a good job of getting better week-by-week. We moved some people around, and people are practicing very hard. They are paying attention to detail because of that, and we were able to execute today.

“I thought we did a great job at cleaning up the flags. That’s something that’s been stopping us all year long.  That’s been drive killers or extending other team’s drives.

“Every game is a championship game for us. It could be your last game because we play a violent game with violent people.  You could be out the next day, so play every game like it’s your last, make it your championship and you’ll always go out there and do the best you can.”

HIGH POINT’S DEFENSE LEADS EAGLES TO SHUTOUT VICTORY OVER HORNETS

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October 6, 2018: High Point High School quarterback Keshaun Griffin celebrates with teammate Thomas Owens during a high school football game against Surrattsville High School in Clinton. Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr./The Prince George’s Sentinel

 

CLINTON – After giving up a total of 75 points over the past two weeks, High Point High School’s football team turned over a new leaf defensively with a dominant performance against Surrattsville High School on the road.

The Eagles defense had two safeties, two interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery that led them to a 24-0 victory on Oct. 6.

The first big play from High Point’s defense came in the second quarter by junior safety Daron Walker. As Walker was trotting deep back in coverage, he stepped in front of the Hornets wide receiver to make an interception for his team.

“Pretty much, I was in the backfield, so I was watching the whole play,” Walker said. “I am also looking at the quarterback and his waist.

“So, I trailed the quarterback and wherever his waist went and wherever his eyes went, that’s where I was.  I did my job and came to the ball and got the interception. We did good as a team talking to each other and taking responsibility for each job, not getting mad at each other and just kept pushing forward.”

After Walker’s interception, High Point sophomore quarterback Keshaun Griffin broke off for a 57-yard run.  On the very next play, Griffin ran in for his second rushing touchdown from three yards out.That gave High Point a 13-0 late in the second quarter.

“I was using my offensive skills by basically using my speed and my God-giving ability to make plays, get first downs and win the game,” Griffin said.

“I mostly use my feet over passing for the most part, but I do try to pass. After I use my feet, I try to get out of the pocket but sometimes I can’t, so that’s when I use my arm. We made a lot of big plays when blocking, especially when I would run.”

Walker and his fellow teammates got into the Surrattsville backfield and forced a safety, which gave them a 15-0 lead as they went into halftime.

The second half started off like the first half ended as High Point’s defense picked up right where they left off.

On Surrattsville’s opening drive of the third quarter, High Point senior safety Thomas Owens earned the team’s second safety of the game via an early tackle, increasing the Eagles’ lead to 17.

“On that safety, I was just reading because they weren’t really running the ball that powerful,” Owens said.  “So, I said I’m going just to sit back, saw the player run our the pocket and I got him.

The rest of the game ended with more plays by High Point’s defense as they closed the game out with a forced fumble, fumble recovery and interception in the fourth quarter.

“I think our defense could have done better” Owens said. “We kept giving away a lot of plays. We did get to the line of scrimmage well, and we played pretty good pass coverage.”

The vital game was High Point’s second win of the season but the blowout victory could have been the breakthrough that the Eagles needed.

“We compete and we been competing all season,” High Point Head Coach Wilbert Brinson said.  “We just have to eliminate the minimal mistakes and the drive-killing penalties. “We’re a young team, and overall, we compete, but we really got to lock in and focus on everybody individually doing their job. I’m satisfied with the win and to score 24. I would think that’s an accomplishment for them as well. We still have a lot of work to do.

“They have to stay focused, and they have to continue to want to get better.  What hurt us is that we lost some possessions and opportunities, so I tell them to stay focus. We didn’t play up to our potential today. We competed and played, but we missed a lot of opportunities because of the penalties and minimal mistakes.”