The story is familiar: a dominant running back for a Prince George's County football team, carrying a hefty load as he attempts to lead a long-suffering program to a state championship.
Parkdale senior Kevin Beverly, the area's second-leading rusher with 2,010 yards and 19 touchdowns, will be the focal point for the No. 10 Panthers (9-1) when they host No. 20 Damascus (8-2) today in a Maryland 4A semifinal. Parkdale will be playing in its first semifinal in 27 years, aiming for its first state title since 1974.
"I have one chance to win a state title, there is no next year -- this is it," Beverly said. "Every player who plays this game wants to win a state title, but [in 4A] there's only one team that's going to win it. Everyone says they remember their senior year the most, so I want to make mine a memorable one."
Beverly's emergence this season has mirrored what running back Barrington Edwards did for Bowie last season, when Edwards took a team that had not made the playoffs since 1987 and rushed for 2,170 yards and 26 touchdowns en route to leading the Bulldogs to their first state title.
Similarly, Parkdale entered this season coming off its fourth 6-4 finish in the past five years, and the Panthers had made just one playoff appearance since 1989.
"I think Kevin saw all the attention Barrington got last year and it made him mad, because Kevin had a good season, too," Parkdale Coach Mike Rucker said of Beverly, who rushed for 1,107 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. "So that was his cry this season: to be the best running back in the state, plain and simple."
Beverly, 6-foot and 193 pounds, has certainly made a case for himself. Beverly's rise to the top of the leader board of area rushers has coincided with Parkdale's ascension toward the top of The Post's top 20 poll. He said he has received scholarship offers from Penn State, North Carolina State, Marshall and Kent State.
He started the season slowly, as a severely strained right hamstring limited him to rushing for 699 yards in Parkdale's first five games. But during the 23-day delay in Prince George's County this fall because of the sniper shootings, Beverly's injury healed. In the five games since play resumed, Beverly has rushed for 1,311 yards -- nearly 122 yards per game more than in the first half of the season -- as the Panthers won all five games, gaining a share of the county's 4A regular season championship and defeating Suitland, 28-0, in last week's state quarterfinal.
"Any time you have to go against a running back that rushes for over 2,000 yards, you have to respect him," said Damascus Coach Dan Makosy, whose Swarmin' Hornets have limited opponents to 8.7 points per game, and have not given up 20 points in a game this season. "Kevin is an explosive running back with a lot of speed. We're going to have to stop him if we're going to make it past this week."
Parkdale has not reached a state final since back-to-back appearances in 1974 and '75. The Panthers were defeated by Arundel, 13-7, in 1975; they defeated Perry Hall, 28-8, the year before for the state's first 4A football title.
"It's been a long time since we've been in this position, and nobody really expected us to be here this year, either," Rucker said. "But we did, but we didn't talk about how good we were going to be. We did that the past few years and our mouths wrote checks our play didn't cash. So our motto this year was, 'Don't talk about it, be about it.' "
It's also a slogan that describes Beverly perfectly.
"In the hallways at school he's quiet and he's so easy to get along with," Parkdale junior quarterback Anthony Brown said. "But once he puts that uniform on and goes onto the field, it's like he changes. He's yelling at everyone, and everything is strictly business out there.
"We need him out there, he's our leader. He brings so much enthusiasm to our team because he can take over a game on any play."