Friendship Collegiate’s Jalen Tabor learns to play the waiting game

September 30, 2013

Jalen Tabor has now gone 17 days without playing an organized football game, and by the time he and his Friendship Collegiate teammates suit up for Friday’s matchup at Westlake, it will have been three full weeks since the Knights had last played.

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Such a long layoff, attributed to a bye and a cancelled game against Renaissance Christian last week, is rare in the middle of the high school football season. But almost equally rare is the talent level at Friendship Collegiate, which is brimming with so many college prospects that the competition in practice has compensated for the back-to-back bye weeks, Tabor said. The Knights last played in a 23-13 loss to Manatee (Fla.) back on Sept. 13.

“It’s been difficult. At Friendship, you know, we face adversity in a lot of situations, so it [hasn't been] that bad for us,” Tabor said. “At practice, we get better as a team, because that’s the best guys you’re going to go against, in practice. So the games become easy.”

Friendship Collegiate's Jalen Tabor has official visits to Florida, Alabama, Maryland and Arizona lined up this fall. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)
Friendship Collegiate’s Jalen Tabor has official visits to Florida, Alabama, Maryland and Arizona lined up this fall. (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post)

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Tabor has had to come to grips with patience in more than one area so far this fall. He is one of the area’s most prized recruits, still trying to decide from a shortlist that includes Alabama, Florida and Maryland. He has official visits to those three schools, as well as Arizona, coming up this fall, he said.

Tabor said although the attention has been amped up this fall on the decision, “he’s not being too overwhelmed’ by what’s to come, and he’s likely to pick his school following his senior season.

Opponents have been keeping the ball away from Tabor, he said, which is reminiscent of last season when he allowed no completions all season long en route to earning first-team All-Met honors. He had a 51-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 34-0 season-opening win over Atlantic (Fla.), and aside from some “nicks and bruises,” has stayed relatively healthy during the first month of the season.

Friendship (2-1), which plays much of its schedule out-of-state this season, will have a rare area appearance this Friday night at Westlake (3-1). The Wolverines have won two straight games and have scored 103 points combined in those two games — and Tabor said he will learn his opponent through film in the coming days. After an unexpected layoff this month, playing in front of a local crowd will be a reward.

“It’s definitely cool. We get to come home after the game, go to our families, just being around the area.” Tabor said. “We definitely want to make a statement.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 709
The number of yards Einstein’s Khalil Wilson has rushed for in the last two weeks, including 299 and two scores in a 41-0 win over Northwood on Friday.

BREAKFAST LINKS
– Suitland left little doubt that it is the team to beat in Prince George’s County this weekend, using stingy defense to beat DuVal 21-6 on Saturday.

– No. 1 DeMatha did something Friday that hadn’t happened in five years: the Stags beat rival Good Counsel, 21-0, taking the upper-hand in the WCAC.

– In this week’s More Than A Game, Atholton field hockey Coach Martie Dyer honors her players in more ways than one, including by handing out a stuffed animal as tradition every week.

PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND

VIDEO FROM THE WEEKEND

FIRST AND 17: Episode 5 – Friends and foes

WHAT TO WATCH

Volleyball: No. 1 Loudoun County at No. 3 Stone Bridge, 7:15 p.m.

Top-ranked Loudoun County (8-0, 3-0) has been dominant so far this fall, losing just one set (in a 3-1 win over Briar Woods) this season. Stone Bridge (12-0, 3-0) enters Monday on a roll, having swept Oakton and Westfield in matches last week.

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.
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Brandon Parker · September 27, 2013

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