Eleanor Roosevelt junior Edwin Rios told his coach, Rick Houchens, during the week leading up to Saturday's Maryland 4A quarterfinal against Suitland that fullback Daniel Silva was going to be the difference in the game.
It was a bold statement: After all, Rios was predicting that a sophomore who never had played in a varsity football game would be the key player in an emotionally charged playoff game between county rivals. But Rios turned out to be right.
Silva, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore, rushed for 72 yards on 14 carries in Roosevelt's 19-13 victory. And his blocking and play-faking ability were just as important to the Raiders, who ran for a total of 244 yards on 55 carries.
"I knew that he'd be the big difference in the game," said Rios, who rushed for 80 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown on a 26-yard run with 8 minutes 39 seconds left in the game. "In the first game, our fullback didn't do a good job of picking up the blitz. But [Silva] runs hard, and he picks up the blitz. He carries out his fakes, and that's important.
"When he first came up to the varsity, he played on the second-team offense against the first-team defense, and he faked us out," Rios said. "I'd tackle him, and he wouldn't have the ball. I knew that if he did it to us, he could do it to Suitland."
The Raiders had a hole to fill at fullback after their starting fullback, senior Ahmez Hammock-El, quit the team in mid-October to concentrate on basketball, Houchens said. The two players who stepped in for Hammock-El, seniors Robert Metzger and Noel Carr, were injured late in the season. So Houchens pulled Silva up to the varsity, along with 13 other players from the Raiders' 9-0 junior varsity team.
"[Silva] never stops; he never quits," Houchens said. "He's not the greatest athlete, but the greatest tribute to him is that he just wants to play. He's very physical, and he's a good blocker. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in effort."
Three junior varsity players started for the Raiders against the Rams: Silva at fullback, sophomore Marcus Burden at defensive tackle and freshman Talmadge Hayer on special teams. Two other junior varsity players also played roles in the win: Sophomore Chris Choice played wide receiver and freshman quarterback Chris Campbell led the scout team offense throughout the week.
"There were so many guys that helped," Houchens said. "It was such a great team effort. For Daniel and the others to step in the way they did and perform against a great team like Suitland makes me excited."
Forestville's McClain Is Quickly Productive
The very first time Larry McClain touched the ball in Forestville's 48-0 win over visiting Pikesville in a Maryland 1A quarterfinal Saturday, the junior wingback ran 25 yards for a touchdown.
He carried the ball six more times during the game, scoring three more touchdowns--on runs of 4, 79 and 6 yards--and finished with 196 rushing yards.
"I was just ready and pumped for the playoffs," McClain said. "My offensive line wanted me to get the ball, and when your offensive line wants you to get the ball, you know that you're going to be all right."
Saturday's game wasn't the first time that McClain had had such a productive--and economical--day. In the Knights' season-opening 58-3 win against Colonial Forge, McClain rushed for 121 yards and three touchdowns on six carries. He also returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown in that game.
Forestville Coach Michael Mayo remembers another performance similar to McClain's; two years ago, Andrew Payton rushed for nearly 200 yards on just five carries in a game against Patuxent, Mayo said.
"Big games like that have happened before, but not in the playoffs," Mayo said. "There are some kids who just turn it up another level in the playoffs. I remember one run [of McClain's] where I thought that [Pikesville] had him tackled for a loss. But all of a sudden he jumped up and split the defenders and was 20 yards downfield."
The 5-11, 165-pound McClain is a first-year starter in the offensive backfield and has rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. He has deceptive speed and power--"You can't stick an arm out and tackle him," Mayo said. "He'll make you miss. We've always had fast kids who maybe were not as powerful and strong. Larry is a combination of both."
McClain has started at safety since his freshman year. He made his 10th interception of the season Saturday, nearly returning the ball for a touchdown.
DeMatha's Wolfe-King On Mark From Afar
DeMatha senior Patrick Wolfe-King kicked a 48-yard field goal--his longest of the season--with 1 minute 58 seconds left in the first half of the Stags' 24-7 victory over McNamara.
"That was an important kick," Coach Bill McGregor said. "The game was tied [at 7], and we had just blocked a punt. We took three shots at the end zone, but couldn't get in. It was a big morale booster to go into halftime with a lead."
Wolfe-King converted three extra-point attempts Saturday, put four kickoffs into the end zone and kicked two long punts.
Wolfe-King, a two-year starter, primarily handled the place kicking duties last fall. But over the summer, he spent a week training with Jacksonville Jaguars special teams coordinator Larry Pasquale, a friend of Wolfe-King's father. He also worked with Virginia Tech punter Jimmy Kibble.
"He'd always had a strong leg, but he was erratic," McGregor said. "He came back this year and had a 73-yard punt against Good Counsel and a 65-yarder against Carroll. He's been outstanding."
CAPTION: E. Roosevelt's George Hewan, above, gets lift from Jermaine Ennis after scoring in Maryland 4A state quarterfinal game against Suitland. Edwin Rios, who scored game-winning touchdown, wraps up Rams' Jamil Barnes.
CAPTION: Eleanor Roosevelt running back Edwin Rios struggles for yards as Suitland's Donald Willis tries to stop progress. The Raiders rushed for 244 yards in 19-13 victory.