All season, Lane had not mentioned to his players that the inaugural D.C. playoffs will include a second division – known as Class A – for teams that finish with better than a .500 record. The Knights are a young squad, and Lane had wanted to keep their attention on the most immediate task at hand, which was preparing for their next game.
On Friday, Ballou will play at McKinley (2-7), and a win would be more significant than it might have been in past seasons for squads struggling to finish with an even record. Lane knows that for some of his seniors, competing in a second-tier playoff division won’t resonate quite as strongly as would the opportunity to play for the top crown, but as the Knights’ first-year coach, it would give him a chance to further develop his program.
“It’s a goal to shoot for when you have a young team, in reference to building on something,” Lane said.
Lane also said, though, that he is deeply saddened for Ballou players such as senior tailback Daywone Wright, who won’t get an opportunity to compete in D.C.’s highest postseason level. Wright rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns in 21 carries Friday against Woodson. He has gained more than 800 rushing yards in six games this season, while also contributing on defense at outside linebacker and defensive back.
Wright’s statistics likely would be more eye-catching had he not been forced to miss three games due to three different injuries. For the latter part of the season, Wright has played through pain from a high ankle sprain, torn thumb ligaments and a thigh bruise that he suffered earlier in the fall.
While Lane said Wright does not have any college scholarship offers on the table, West Virginia, Marshall, Kent State and Ohio have shown interest.
“I’m just saddened that this kid plays so hard, and this year was probably his best chance of going to the playoffs,” Lane said. “He’s been at Ballou through the trying times of different incidents. . . . I just feel for the kid because we’re extremely young, and he was one of the senior leaders that helped carry this team.”
Ibrahim, Avalon get on a roll
Avalon running back Rachid Ibrahim verbally committed to play football at the University of Pittsburgh earlier this month, but the momentous decision came at a time when he wasn’t playing particularly well on the high school field. Avalon (5-4) was in the middle of a two-game losing streak at the time (blowout losses to Bullis and John Carroll) and Ibrahim was running unremarkably.
That changed in a hurry. Ibrahim didn’t want to be remembered as a player who had one foot out the door his entire senior season of high school football. He has rushed for more than 881 yards in the last three weeks, and he ran for 360 yards and six scores in last week’s 46-45 win over Riverdale Baptist.
He had scoring runs of 2,1, 27, 2, 79 and 89, the latter two which came in the third and fourth quarters to help cement Avalon’s lead in a shootout that came down to a missed extra point by Riverdale Baptist.