Navorro Bowman might carry the ball several times tomorrow when 14th-ranked Suitland hosts No. 9 C.H. Flowers in a meeting of undefeated teams. Or Bowman, a junior who averages more than 10 yards per carry, might line up in the backfield for only a handful of plays if Suitland has its way.

It is a tough situation for Rams Coach Nick Lynch to manage. On offense, Bowman gives other players a spark and he is the team's most effective runner. But Bowman also is a standout linebacker, so Lynch prefers to rest Bowman when Suitland has the ball and is in control of a game.

"It's very important that we have him available on defense," Lynch said. "Normally, your free safety is your quarterback on defense. Navorro Bowman is our quarterback on defense."

So if things go well for Suitland (7-0, 6-0 Prince George's 4A) in this game -- which likely will decide the league title and the top seed in the Maryland 4A South Region playoffs -- Bowman will not be in the game on offense very often. Other teenagers might grouse about not getting their chance in the spotlight, but Bowman understands his job leading a defense that has conceded fewer than eight points per game.

"I like playing linebacker," Bowman said. "This is really the only sport you can legally punch somebody in the mouth. I love the contact. I would probably say that playing linebacker, you've got to have heart to play that position. [I like] to play defense and give a hit instead of getting the hit."

Said Lynch: "What player that can run the football as well as he can and as hard as he can is a team guy and understands that? That just speaks volumes about him.

"You look at yards per carry and carries per touchdown. If he had more carries, he probably would have over 1,000 yards easily."

For now, though, Bowman makes the most of every chance he gets, the same characteristic that helps him outrebound taller opponents on the basketball court, where he starts at guard for the Rams.

"He doesn't quit, he doesn't take a play off," said Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Rick Houchens, who was similarly impressed watching Bowman play for Suitland's basketball team last winter. "To me, that's what separates the good ones from the great ones."

Directions: From the Beltway, take Pennsylvania Avenue (Route 4) west toward D.C. Follow it to the fifth light, Silver Hill Road, and turn left. The school will be on the right.

Navorro Bowman, who averages more than 10 yards per carry, truly excels as a linebacker for the 14th-ranked Rams. "I like playing linebacker," he said.