Heading into this season, the general consensus around Prince George’s County held that perennial power Suitland would be good, as usual — but just not quite as good as usual.
The departures of 1,600-yard back Anthony Squires and now-Maryland Terrapin Taivon Jacobs, among others, created understandable concerns about inexperience at key positions. Even Coach Ed Shields was cautiously non-committal — if also visibly optimistic — after his Rams scrimmaged Douglass in the preseason:
“When you work a lot of new faces in, it takes time to get the timing right,” he said. “We’ve got a lot less experience [than teams in the past].”
Then came Suitland’s season opener, a 37-0 rout of Potomac in which the Rams showed a versatile offense and a defensive backfield that will discomfort opposing offenses.
Suitland quarterback Wesley Wolfolk engineered a relentless Rams attack, distributing the ball to a handful of different wide receivers while scoring on a 58-yard run of his own. Josh Burke, the team’s fourth-leading rusher last year, showed he’s more than ready to carry the load, as he ran over, around, and through Wolverine defenders throughout the game.
Nick Nelson, a wide receiver/defensive back who’s got offers from Temple, North Carolina A&T and North Carolina Central, made a beautiful top-of-his-jump grab on a Wolfolk toss to the end zone for a touchdown Saturday. He then proceeded to slide into the path of a Potomac pass and return it for a touchdown.
“I think we can be better [than last year],” Wolfolk said. “We lost some great guys . . . But the guys we have this year want their opportunities. They’re hungry, they work hard.” . . .
Oxon Hill made a statement of its own this weekend with a 52-0 win over Bell Friday evening.
Oxon Hill’s running back Brian Darby turned five carries into 55 yards and a touchdown, and turned an interception at his own 20 into an 80-yard return for six. The second half of the Clippers’ running back duo, Jeremy Fields, returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Quarterback Anthony Dougherty completed 9 of 16 passes for 102 yards.
“It’s the first game of the season — we’ve got a lot of games to see how things go along,” said Coach Craig Jefferies. “Bell was young, but you do what you have to do against teams like that and we did, we played well on all three sides of the ball.”
When the hundreds of devout Prince George’s County football fans on hand for the Prince George’s Pigskin Classic Saturday heard the score announced, rumbles rippled through the crowd, which seemed to interpret it as an indication that the Clippers — long rebuilding — might finally be rebuilt for 2013.
“I want to say [we can surprise people], but I think people are looking at us in their rearview mirror,” Jefferies said. “So if they’re surprised, shame on them, because they should know we’re improving, and we’re building the program . . . there’s some pretty good coaches in this conference. I don’t think most of them will be surprised at the progress Oxon Hill’s making right now.”