Maryland Private Schools

Coker's Historic Day Powers No. 1 DeMatha Past Gilman

DeMatha's Marcus Coker runs over Baltimore power Gilman. His rushing total is believed to be the most in school history and fourth most in state history.
DeMatha's Marcus Coker runs over Baltimore power Gilman. His rushing total is believed to be the most in school history and fourth most in state history. (By Mark Gail -- The Washington Post)
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By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 13, 2009

BALTIMORE, Sept. 12 -- With his coach screaming from the sideline, asking if he was physically well, Marcus Coker finally looked up from the DeMatha huddle. What was not to like? Coker was nearing the end of one of the finest individual performances in state high school history -- and what is believed to be the best statistical game for any running back in the Stags' storied history.

As the players prepared for the next snap, Coker simply flashed a thumbs-up at Coach Bill McGregor. Then he took a handoff, ran to the left and burrowed into the end zone from three yards out, his fifth touchdown of the game, leading No. 1 DeMatha to a 56-35 victory over Gilman on Saturday afternoon in a meeting of top teams from Washington and Baltimore.

Coker finished with a staggering 391 yards on 24 carries, believed to be the most yards ever gained by a DeMatha player in a game and the fourth most in Maryland history.

Coker had a three-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, an 80-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 14 just before halftime, a 78-yard touchdown run two plays after Gilman got within 28-21 and a two-yard touchdown run.

Asked which play was his favorite, though, the Iowa recruit had trouble coming up with an answer.

"I don't remember them," he said. "Whenever I get one, I just want another. I don't worry about it."

The 80-yard scamper -- when he broke away from two tacklers who tried to drag him down near the line of scrimmage -- seemed to impress his teammates the most. That score, like most of his other yardage, came running behind tackle Arie Kouandjio and guard Shane Johnson, a pair of major-college prospects on the left side of the offensive line.

It was after the 78-yard run around the left end that Kouandjio broke into a dance in the middle of the field while Coker continued in the clear down the sideline.

Perhaps making the accomplishment a little more notable, Coker was wearing a hard plastic mask that protected a broken nose and three fractured bones under his left eye. The injury, suffered in a summer passing league, has healed, but Coker is wearing the face shield for precautionary reasons.

"You get 100 yards and that's a good day," McGregor said. "He fits in the mold of some of the great ones we've had in the past. Nobody is going to tackle him with their arms. You better wrap up because if not, he is going to break the tackle and go."

No. 1 DeMatha 56, Gilman 35 A Bit Short: DeMatha RB Marcus Coker's 391 yards rushing were 54 yards shy of the state record of 445 set by Hancock's Sam Hess in 1998. Coker's 391 were the most by a Maryland player since then. Overshadowed: Gilman QB Darius Jennings, an elusive junior, rushed for 218 yards and one touchdown and passed for 125 yards and three touchdowns. Coker's backup, Michael Meriwether, rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns.

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