With his team up 16-0 in an eventual 43-8 win over visiting Surrattsville on Saturday, 6-foot-1, 230-pound Gwynn Park tight end/linebacker Marcus Porter caught a pass from Jay Adams, brushed aside two defenders and rumbled into the end zone for his team’s third score in five minutes. A play later, Porter smashed his way into the Hornets’ backfield and saw a sure-fire interception slide through his hands just yards from the end zone.
Disappointed by the near-miss, a Yellow Jacket on the sideline called out to Porter as he jogged off the field, head in his hands, “That was your moment to shine!”
Porter laughed, and so did nearby teammates, able to joke because of the lopsided score, and willing to do so because any one player “shining” above the others isn’t a part of Coach Danny Hayes’s team-first, keep-a-low-profile mentality — a relentless focus on “staying grounded.” It’s an approach Hayes believes will help the No. 12 Yellow Jackets (7-0, 5-0 Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A) achieve their goal of a state title.
“Every week [Porter] comes to play, he hasn’t had a down week. He could be an All-Met, all-everything player, but we do things quietly,” said Hayes, who added that the Gwynn Park staff makes it a point not to emphasize any one player’s achievements to the media or community.
Porter was one of four Yellow Jackets who scored, part of an offense that spreads around the carries, catches, and scoring. Running back Stephen Isreal emerged offensively, scoring Gwynn Park’s final three touchdowns, and running back Eddie Gross also broke free for 64 yards on nine carries. Davonte Young caught a 45-yard touchdown pass, and Gross even tossed a 17-yard pass of his own on a fake punt.
“We’ve got a lot of weapons and we like to use them,” said Porter, who captains the Yellow Jackets’ defense. Porter had to shift from linebacker to end Saturday because of injuries to defensive starters Aaron Parker and Duan Woods. Gross filled his place at middle linebacker, and the Gwynn Park defense didn’t miss a beat as it forced three fumbles and intercepted the Hornets (6-1, 4-1 PG 3A/2A/1A) twice.
Porter’s defense consistently got into the Surrattsville backfield, limiting running back Amaru Major — who entered the weekend among the DC area’s top backs in terms of rushing yards — to just 27 yards on nine carries and a 24-yard catch out of the backfield.
“We knew they were going to come out and run on us, so we just focused on stopping the run,” said safety Stephen Turner, who had a first-quarter interception of .
Surrattsville marked the last winning team on Gwynn Park’s schedule before the playoffs.
“Everyone on the team stood out to me today,” Isreal said. “Everybody. We can’t do any one play without the whole team.”