Lucas touched the ball just once last week on offense in a 42-0 win over Magruder, and it resulted in a 35-yard touchdown. The week before, in a 41-18 win over Rockville, the Connecticut commit touched the ball just once on offense as well, which went for a 57-yard touchdown. That was on the first possession of the game, and on the very next series, he returned an interception 41-yards for a touchdown.
He is Coach Mike Nesmith’s best offensive asset, on both sides of the ball, which is why Nesmith has been focusing all week on ways to get Lucas more involved come Friday night against No. 4 Quince Orchard. The Panthers’ playoff lives very well may depend on it.
The script was similar a year ago, when both teams were 2-0 and looking to make a move. Quince Orchard dominated Paint Branch 24-8, and the Panthers would finish the regular season 9-1. That singular blemish sent Nesmith’s club on the road the first week of the playoffs, where Paint Branch lost 30-28 to Catonsville.
“If we lose Friday, then we basically have to run the table to make the playoffs. We’re fighting for our playoff lives in week three. We don’t want to have to go on the road like we did last year,” Nesmith said. “We’re going to need [Lucas] to make a play for us. We’re going to need an explosive play.”
Nesmith believes Quince Orchard’s defense has no weaknesses, so he didn’t try to get creative this week in game-planning. Limiting “superstar plays” from linebackers Marcus Newby and Carlo St. Regis, and defensive back Kyle Gregory will be crucial – but so will getting Lucas out in space. Offensively, Paint Branch plans to use Lucas out wide on the perimeter — and as a ball-hawk from his safety post on defense. He’ll also handle kick-returning duties for the Panthers.
“I expect every team to key on me,” Lucas said. “My touches have been limited. I’ve seen a lot of changes, like when [teams] play me inside, but that doesn’t make a difference. Anyway they play me, it’s not going to make a difference. Just gotta play football, gotta get open.”
Game to watch: Eleanor Roosevelt (2-0) at No. 14 Wise (2-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Among the reasons why a football coach might consider himself fortunate, having to deal with a horde of injured players and a few starters transferring to other schools don’t often register. And yet, Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish considers himself a lucky man entering Saturday’s Prince George’s 4A game against Eleanor Roosevelt, and it has little to do with his team being 2-0 and unscored upon yet this season.
“We’re fortunate that we’ve had a lot of injuries and some people transfer at the beginning of the year, because that allowed more people during the summer to get more work and know they were going to be relied upon,” Parrish said. “So it kind of worked out in our favor in the sense that more people got more reps than they would normally be given, and it helped in our search of, ‘Who would be that next guy to step up?’”