Northwest senior Salim Koroma often is overlooked on the football field, and not just because he is 5 feet 5 and 150 pounds.
It's mostly because the fourth-ranked Jaguars are loaded with star power. They have one of the most highly coveted prep quarterbacks in the nation in senior Ike Whitaker. Their tailback, Tony Nelson, will play at Clemson next season. And their top wide receiver, Darren Brownlee, will play at West Virginia next year.
But according to Northwest Coach Randy Trivers, there may not be a more important player on the Jaguars' roster than the diminutive Koroma.
"He's just a dynamite player," Trivers said. "If Salim were 5-10, I think people would be looking at a guy who is as sought after as anyone in the country."
If he were 5-10, opposing players also probably would not underestimate Koroma. But Koroma wouldn't have it any other way.
"That's what I like," Koroma said earlier this week, as a confident smile spread across his face.
Koroma, who has played on Northwest's varsity since his sophomore year, starts in the Jaguars' defensive backfield, returns punts and kicks, holds on field goals and extra points, plays wide receiver and tailback and is the team's backup quarterback. Last season Koroma scored two rushing touchdowns, caught six touchdown passes, returned a punt, a kickoff and an interception for touchdowns and threw a touchdown pass. He was named the Jaguars' most valuable player and this year was voted a team captain.
"He's a guy with a tremendous work ethic and leadership ability," Trivers said.
Koroma blocks and tackles with a ferocity that belies his size, and he is effective running between the tackles. But it is his speed (he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds) that makes him one of Montgomery County's most dangerous threats.
Koroma has shown an ability to make big plays in critical situations. Last year, in the Jaguars' 37-34 victory over rival Seneca Valley, he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and an interception 30 yards for a score.
Northwest likely will need a big play or two from Koroma tonight when they host second-ranked Damascus at 6:30 in a Montgomery County nondivision game. The Jaguars never have beaten the Hornets, who have won a county-best nine games in a row dating from last season's run to the Maryland 4A title.
Directions: Take I-270 to Exit 9B (Sam Eig Highway, I-370). Go west to Great Seneca Highway. Turn right on Great Seneca Highway and head north for approximately five miles. Turn left onto Richter Farm Road at the school.