As one of several talented running backs in Westlake's prolific wing-T offense, senior Denis Hicks has been waiting for his turn to shine. He transferred from DeMatha two years ago, unaware that the Wolverines already had speedy backs such as Recardo Evans and Gonzie Gray.
With the two speedsters ahead of him in the rotation last season, Hicks concentrated his offseason efforts on gaining size and strength. He did both, and his efforts paid off with a 207-yard performance--including the game-winning three-yard touchdown run--in the ninth-ranked Wolverines' 24-18 overtime victory over visiting La Plata on Friday night.
"Until tonight, I hadn't been able to get into a rhythm," said Hicks, who put on about 20 pounds in the offseason and is now 5 feet 11 inches and 205 pounds. "But I'm glad the coaches had the confidence in me to put the ball in my hands when it counted."
The game marked the second time this season Westlake, the four-time defending Southern Maryland Athletic Conference champion, has rallied to tie a home game late in the fourth quarter and win in overtime. Last time, on Sept. 17, Westlake defeated Calvert, 25-22.
"We were in control early but we gave up big plays, and it stopped our momentum," Westlake Coach Dominic Zaccarelli said. "We have a great group of kids who find a way to get it done. We know people will come after us every week."
Westlake led, 15-9, when La Plata junior Titus Green intercepted a pass by senior Nick Rose and returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. That tied the score with 36 seconds left in the half.
It was the second of two big plays for La Plata and Green--he broke free for a 64-yard touchdown on La Plata's first play from scrimmage.
La Plata took the lead at the end of the third quarter, when Jason Batty made a 36-yard field goal. But Robbie Paskevich, who made the game-winning field goal in overtime against Calvert--made a 35-yarder with one second left in regulation.
La Plata took its four attempts from the 10-yard line first in overtime, but failed to complete a halfback option pass on fourth down from the 4. La Plata's defense was penalized five yards for having 12 men on the field on first down, and Westlake scored two plays later when Hicks broke through the middle.
As the Wolverines' side erupted in joy, many Warriors fell to the field in tears, where many of them remained for several minutes after the game. Huddled together were Green and four-year starters Dennis Williamson and Raheem Archer.
"There's just so much emotion out here tonight, I can't even put it into words," Green said. "For Dennis and Raheem, this was their last shot at Westlake. But it wasn't so much about that, this right here, this emotion, as about how much we love playing the game of football, and how much it hurts to lose a game like this."