Patrick Mimms did not play football until he reached high school. Not yet six feet tall, Mimms was unable to persuade his protective mother to let him play.

"I played soccer, basketball and baseball up till eighth grade," Mimms said. "Finally, in ninth grade, me, my uncle and my aunt talked my mother into letting me play football."

These days, there is little need to worry about Mimms taking care of himself on the field. He has grown to 6 feet 2 and 255 pounds. After playing at Parkdale the past three seasons, he transferred to Douglass for his senior year after his family moved to Upper Marlboro. And he has quickly proven that he is a force on the defensive side of the ball.

"That Mimms guy is an absolute animal," said Forestville Coach Charles Harley, whose team hosts Douglass on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a key Prince George's 3A/2A game. "He's scary. You get big guys, but he's a big guy who moves and never stops. He's going to be a problem because he is so aggressive. His first step off the ball is explosive."

Mimms has drawn similar reviews from other coaches, including Lackey Coach Scott Chadwick, whose team scrimmaged Douglass in the preseason and who watched Mimms dominate from the middle linebacker position. Mimms has since moved back to the defensive line, where he teams with Thomas Claggett to give the Eagles a pair of senior standouts.

"We looked at him some at linebacker and he can play it, there's no doubt the kid can play it," said Douglass Coach J.C. Pinkney, whose team improved to 2-0 with a 40-6 victory over DuVal this past Saturday. "But he wouldn't be ready fast enough. He'll have a bigger impact for us where he is right now."

Pinkney said that Claggett, having added 15 pounds during the offseason, is stronger and in better condition than ever. Mimms said he, too, is in the best shape of his life after a summer of track and field and throwing the discus and shot put. He said he qualified for the Amateur Athletic Union and Junior Olympic national meets but was unable to attend because he went to football camps instead.

Mimms said he might compete in track for Douglass and that he and Claggett have discussed the possibility of joining the school wrestling team to try to stay in shape. The other sports Mimms used to play are a thing of the past. He gave up basketball after breaking his left leg while playing as a sophomore and stopped playing baseball after going out for Parkdale's team in the spring. "The ball was coming too fast," Mimms said. "I didn't want to get hit by it, so I decided to stick with football."

For now, it seems to have been a wise choice. Mimms has been offered scholarships by Cincinnati and Bowie State, and Pinkney expects him to receive more offers as the season goes on.

"You couldn't gather a whole lot from [watching videotape of Mimms playing at Parkdale]," Pinkney said, "but with us coaching him and pushing him, I knew he could be a special player."

Getting Physical

Navorro Bowman is a punishing running back, using his 6-foot-1, 208-pound frame to bowl over defenders. But in Suitland's first two games, Bowman has carried the ball a total of only eight times.

"It depends how the game is going," said Suitland Coach Nick Lynch, who is most concerned with keeping Bowman fresh to play linebacker. "I think we have a slew of backs that are capable of getting it done. But if I don't see that happening, I have to bring him in and show those guys this is what I want."

In a 34-14 victory over Northwestern on Saturday, Bowman carried only three times in the first half because the Wildcats dominated time of possession. A fumbled punt return by Suitland allowed Northwestern to run the game's first 20 plays from scrimmage and Lynch did not want to wear out his star junior. But when Bowman was in the game on offense, he made the most of it. His second carry was a sensational 33-yard touchdown run and his third carry went for a five-yard touchdown run.

Bowman is not the Rams' only physical player on defense, either. Linebacker Mark Hall and defensive back Mark Duncan also provided some big hits.

"I think last year some of the kids, because of inexperience, weren't that physical," Lynch said. "But for the most part I think we've been pretty sound defensively -- being physical, being aggressive and pursuing the ball. That's been our trademark, playing tough defense. . . . We have a real physical team. I'm happy for that. Last year, I was pulling my hair out."

The Rams (2-0, 2-0 Prince George's 4A) appear to be in excellent shape this season and do not face either of the other apparent contenders in Prince George's 4A -- C.H. Flowers and Eleanor Roosevelt -- until the final three weeks.

Strong Start for Flowers

C.H. Flowers has shut out its first two opponents, beating Largo, 32-0, on Saturday. But Coach Mike Mayo said that does not mean he is any less concerned about a defense that had only three starters returning from last season.

"Not really, because we've got some big ones coming up," said Mayo, whose team will play at Northwestern on Saturday, followed by a Sept. 24 home game against Eleanor Roosevelt. "They're playing well, and we said if we can get better each week, down the line we hope we'll be where we want to be. But we don't want them to get satisfied and think they're something they're not. What we're doing that's really helping out is we're playing team defense. Everybody is running to the ball and playing their assignments. Nobody is trying to be a hero."

Mayo is pleased with the way his offense is performing. Quarterback Evan McCullough opened the scoring against Largo with a 66-yard touchdown pass to running back Ramond Dixon.

On the play, Mayo said, Largo's defenders came up expecting fullback Brandon McRae to get a handoff, but McCullough threw a short pass to Dixon who took it all the way for the score.

"Evan threw the ball well," Mayo said. "That takes pressure off the running game."

Douglass standout defensive lineman Patrick Mimms, left, has a strong grip on the game. His mother refused to let him play football as a child.