Sometimes Paris Atwater will watch old football films of his father, former Denver Bronco safety Steve Atwater. There is much to learn while watching those films — the angles an NFL defensive back should take in pursuit, and the technique he should use to break down and tackle. But more than anything, the younger Atwater watches the tapes because he wants to emulate one trait of his father for Sherwood this fall: his viciousness on the field.


“Really, what I try to do like him, is just bring the intensity that he brought,” Atwater said. “Of course, like, at a high school level. It’s not going to at an NFL level, but something. However much I can bring, I’m going to try and bring that.”

The senior will have plenty of opportunities to assert himself this fall, because he will start at linebacker and fullback. The mentality of both positions doesn’t waver — the player is expected to “go to the hole every time,” Atwater said nonchalantly after Wednesday’s practice.

Mentally, Atwater said he is leaps and bounds from where he was this time a year ago, when he was a new student and football teammate at Sherwood after his father relocated the family to the Washington area from Georgia. Steve Atwater played in the NFL for 11 seasons (10 with Denver), and is widely considered one of the most feared free safeties to ever play the game. He now coaches the defensive backs under first-year coach Chris Grier at Sherwood, and on Wednesday, his path rarely crossed with his son during practice.

Paris Atwater picks up tips from his father, in person and in film study, but heading into his senior season he has shrugged off any notion of pressure that may be associated with being the son of a former NFL star. People may conjure up images of Steve Atwater and his legendary hits and expect Paris to carry the same fierceness in his game, but “it’s pretty cool,” to be linked to his father in that way, he said.

Paris’s older brothers, Stephen (Georgetown) and DiAndre (Princeton) have ascended to the college level, and he said those two elite academic institutions are at the top of his list for next season. At 5-foot-10 and about 200 pounds, he is a prototypical linebacker; he had flashes last season, where he established himself as a physical player who stands out in his own right on film.

“It makes it so people expect a lot, but also just because they expect a lot, it means I have to show up that much more,” Atwater said. “So it’s also a big motivation for me.”


The number of goals scored by WCAC teams O’Connell and Paul VI Wednesday, with both teams winning 7-0 in its respective matches. The Knights received four goals and two assists from Lucas Mendes in their win over Trinity Christian, while the Panthers were paced by three goals from Griffin Klages in their romp over Benedictine.


— Just days after an official visit to campus over Labor Day weekend, Gonzaga forward Jordan Abdur-Ra’oof committed to Cornell.

— Duke commit Imani Dorsey returns to carry the torch for Good Counsel girls’ soccer, which premieres at No. 1 in the Post’s preseason Top 10 rankings.

— The area’s only returning All-Met in volleyball, Maggie Phillips hopes to lead No. 1 Loudoun County to a sixth Virginia state championship this fall.

First and 17: Da’Shawn Hand and Woodbridge fall to Battlefield

Woodbridge's offense struggled against Battlefield, falling 31-6 in the season opener. (Gabe Hiatt for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)