UPPER MARLBORO – This past season, the Fredrick Douglass High School won their first five games and started off 6-1. The Eagles were flying high when they advanced into the first round of the playoffs and dominated Fairmont Heights High School with a 38-0 victory.
Douglass looked like a favorite to make it to the championship game. However, during their second round playoff match against Lackey High School, they lost 36-28 in a tightly contested game. Despite the loss in regionals, Douglass had a great season and still has a championship-minded team put together.
“The expectation for this season is for us to be successful again,” said 17-year Douglass Head Coach Julius “JC” Pinkney. “I think this team can be very good. Up front, I think we will be fast and athletic, which will be a little change-up and we will be able to move around a little bit.
I like what we got at all our key positions. This is one of the best receiving corps we have had in a while. It’s still a tough task to make it to states. We just came up a drive short last season, and it happens. I always like our chances to make it to states, just like I liked our chances last year.”
Douglass only has two starters on defense and on offense returning this season from a team that was one win away from the state championship game.
Although this is a different team from last year, the goal of a championship is still alive. One of the few returning starters from last season that can help this team accomplish that goal is six-foot, 215-pound senior wide receiver/linebacker Isiaih Jordan.
On the offensive side of the ball, Jordan was second on the team in receptions (5), second in yards (104) and second in touchdowns (2) in nine games last season.
On the defensive side, Jordan was third in total tackles (61) and second in tackles for loss with 10. His quickness, hard-hitting and open field tackling skills give opposing offensive coordinators nightmares. He is hard to maneuver around and can change the tone of the game by his style of play between the white lines.
Jordan is a force to be reckoned with on both sides of the ball and can be the leader that this team needs to be successful.
“I feel that we need to play as a team more and we always need to keep our head up regardless of what’s going on in the game,” Jordan said. “We need to just fight to the end, stay focused and stay locked in all game.
I feel like we need to cut out all the mistakes that we made in the regional game. It was little mistakes that really cost us that game like overthrowing wide receivers and turnovers. I feel we can improve our offensive line as well. Our strength is our defense. That’s what held us up last year and what’s going to have to hold us up this year.”
Another bright spot from Douglass was their run game. They averaged 198 per game on the ground and had four players that rushed for over 300 yards.
Those four players who led the team in rushing yards last season (Brian Epps, Jr., Ja’Juan Payton, Kevin Broome and Steven Jones) are no longer with the team.
However, there is someone that can replace the departed running backs. Douglass’s Cameron “Cam” Munoz is athletic and has excellent vision to make plays with his legs or arm when his services are called upon. Munoz has excellent agility, speed and knows how to find holes and run through them. He will also be playing the quarterback position to start the season as a dual-threat athlete.
“I can bring hard work, I can compete and I can bring leadership to the team. I expect us to do big things this year,” Munoz said. “We have a lot of talent on our team, and we’re very skilled and deep on the roster. We just have to execute plays and the coaches’ gameplans. We do have a lot of speed on this team, which is a strength for us. When running the ball, I can bring my vision and speed to this team, and I also know how to finish off runs.”
Senior offensive guard Deon Brooks is one of the players that will step in this season to try to maintain that run game by creating holes for Munoz and other running backs to run through.
“This season we have to play hard, and everybody has to do their job,” Brooks said. “We have to push each other up and instead of putting them down this year because we want to go states and win. We need to play as a team and keep our head up even if something happens bad in the game and don’t point fingers at teammates. We just need to focus on moving the ball forward because we have a strong passing game.”
Last season, Douglass dominated on defense as they held opponents to an astounding seven points per game in 12 contests, which included six shutouts.
However, the loss of Makye Smith and Brooklyn McNair, who led the team in tackles last season. One of those players to help fill that void is senior linebacker/defensive end, Robert Morgan.
“I want everybody to come out, play hard and give it their all,” Morgan said. “We need to come together as a brotherhood and go to states, which should be everybody’s goal. Last season in the regional game, I think we had a downfall. Everybody wasn’t focused.
“We could have won that game, but I think this year we can win for sure. I think we will be able to overcome that loss. Our weakness was a lack of effort because we got the potential, but everybody got to get focused and be locked in. We also have strengths on defense, throwing and running the ball.”
Douglass will start this season on the road against Randallstown High School (Baltimore County) on Aug. 31, who Douglass defeated last year in their season opener 24-0.