Football: DuVal seeks to prove itself against Suitland

September 26, 2013

To a man, the DuVal Tigers will tell you they carry a chip on their shoulder, and have since a loss to Suitland in last year’s playoffs. It’s a chip they carry because they believed they’re being short-changed when it comes to respect from the Prince George’s 4A elite, a status they believed they’d earned after a 9-2 season last year that featured a regular-season win over perennial power No. 13 Suitland.

But then the Rams cut short DuVal’s bid for a deep playoff run with a 21-14 first-round win, knocking away the newfound respect the Tigers had hoped to carry home.

This season, with a win over defending state champions No. 11 Wise already in tow, the Tigers hope to gain notice of the Prince George’s elite once again, and leave no doubt that DuVal belongs in that group.

If they can complete the feat, first-year DuVal starting quarterback Antoine Brooks will likely be the one to stand up and lead the way. A 14-year-old sophomore, Brooks has thrown for 402 yards and rushed for 278 more, playing a part in eight total touchdowns through three games.

He played for the Tigers in a limited defensive capacity at the end of last season, and when asked about the playoff loss to Suitland he tapped his right shoulder.

The Stags talented senior class hopes to finish their careers by taking the title Good Counsel has held for four years. (Nathan Bickell for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“It’s still right there, on my shoulder. We’ve been waiting for this game for the longest time,” he said. “We weren’t worried about Wise, we were just worried about Suitland. Suitland’s our main target.”

Senior receiver-defensive back Elems Ukwu, who’s seen the Tigers evolve from a 5-5 team his freshman season, agreed the matchup with Suitland carries great weight.

“We have something to prove to them,” Ukwu said. “When we beat Suitland last year, we opened some eyes, but now that we beat Wise I think everybody’s like oh man DuVal’s got something happening.”

In part because of DuVal dethroned Wise, Suitland has emerged as the prohibitive favorite in Prince George’s 4A. Quarterback Wesley Wolfolk is one of the county’s most consistent field generals, and he’s got a dynamic, athletic offensive arsenal. Despite struggling last week, the Rams earned a 35-21 win over a Bowie team (0-3) receiving rave reviews from area coaches.

So the game, as a matchup between the two teams emerging as the region’s best early this season, represents more than just an opportunity for DuVal to stage a lasting coup on Prince George’s 4A royalty.

“They didn’t expect us to come out and win and beat them like we did,” DuVal Coach Dameon Powell said. “So while they wanted to beat us then, now I’ve got a salty taste in my mouth and so do the kids. We still have a little chip on our shoulders.”

Around the area

After playing Suitland closer than an 0-3 team might be expected to in a 35-21 loss last week, Bowie (0-3) now gets a shot at Wise (2-1). The Bulldogs’ other two losses came via forfeit after a fight in a 14-14 game at Westlake forced them to take a loss in that game, and resulting suspensions forced a forfeit against Flowers (3-0).

Bulldogs quarterback Jordan Green threw for 252 yards and two touchdowns on 13 for 23 passing against Suitland last week, and receivers Matthew Phillips and Mohamed Roberts combined to make seven catches for 198 yards. . . .

Roosevelt (1-2) looks to get back to .500 after a brutal season-opening schedule saw them fall to 0-2. The Raiders play Oxon Hill (2-1), who was shutout in its first loss of the season by Wise last week. . . .

After a grueling and heart-pounding overtime win against rival Douglass (2-2) last week, Gwynn Park (3-0) will have to face a tough Potomac team (1-2) that seemed to find its stride last week with a 14-6 win over Friendly (1-2).

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