As he left the huddle last season, Douglass wide receiver Matt Reid rarely thought about the route he might run or how he would try to get open for a pass. On a team known for its extreme devotion to the triple-option running game, the receivers had almost always had one mission -- to block.
"It was like we were extended guards," Reid said. "It wasn't too much fun. It was pretty boring. The only playbook I studied was the defensive playbook."
This season, though, No. 17 Douglass is in a new league and seemingly is a new team. With the addition of Marcus Barnett from St. John's, Eagles Coach J.C. Pinkney has two 6-foot-1 receivers who already have accepted scholarships, Barnett to Cincinnati and Reid to Syracuse, where he will play defensive back.
Add an experienced quarterback in Davon Gray, and Douglass has turned to the passing game like few times in recent seasons. Still, that doesn't mean the Eagles are flinging the ball all over the field: Gray attempted four passes in a season-opening 44-6 victory over Largo, completing two, both for touchdowns. His 100 yards passing was the first time a Douglass player had reached that mark in at least 10 years, Pinkney said.
"We're such a run-strong team that you get some people looking in the backfield, and we run some regular fade routes to our [tall] receivers," Pinkney said. "The game is a little more exciting [for them] because they know now they actually have a chance of catching the football."
Douglass remains committed to the option, but as it enters the Prince George's 4A league trying for its 10th winning record in 11 seasons, the ability to pass is important. Pinkney acknowledged he probably will have to throw more often tomorrow against No. 5 Suitland, the defending Maryland 4A champion known for its tough defense and coming off a season-opening shutout.
With that in mind, Douglass -- which does not have lights on its field -- has been practicing until the sunlight runs out this week.
"We're trying to make a presence in the 4A," Pinkney said. "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a big game."