Two weeks ago, Ballou was reeling from a three-game losing streak, after going through the toughest stretch of its schedule (which saw losses to H.D. Woodson, Dunbar and Wilson). The school’s quarterback, junior Tirri Jones, had particularly struggled — he wasn’t going through progressions, and he was fleeing the pocket and running at a high rate.
“I know I started out rough,” Jones said.
Ballou (5-4, 2-3 DCIAA Stars) and its playoff hopes hinged on Jones calming down and producing during the back-half of the season, and the talented 6-foot-3, 215-pound junior has delivered the last two weeks. He’s thrown for over 200 yards in wins over Coolidge and Anacostia, with five touchdowns combined in those two games. That’s more than double the production in yards and touchdowns he had in the first seven games of the season combined. Against Anacostia he was particularly efficient: he completed 10 passes, including a 46-yard touchdown to sophomore receiver Delonte Moore to give the Knights the lead in the second quarter, and only ran when he needed to. That included early in the second half, when Jones tucked for a three-yard touchdown run.
“He’s a big piece of offense, it feels good to have him back on the field,” Jones said.
The 20-16 win over the Indians keeps Ballou in the fourth and final playoff spot with just two games to go.
“He looked very comfortable. I mean, he made two first downs with his feet,” Ballou Coach Jason Lane said, adding that Jones will take an unofficial visit to Cincinnati on Dec. 6. “We had a third-and-15 and we were running vertical routes, and he got 16 yards…to keep that last drive going.”
The confidence for Jones, at times, comes from an unlikely source. His little brother, Sterlin Smith, is the team’s center and is responsible for clean exchanges with Jones. They transferred over from Springarn together after the school closed last summer, and have worked countless hours in the family’s backyard, focusing on timing with snapping the ball.
“We have chemistry together. We go outside and work on [exchanges], in our free time,” Jones said. “We want to make the best out of our two years that we have right now.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 40.2
The yards per carry by Avalon running back Isaac Boyd in a win over KIPP this weekend. Boyd rushed for 402 yards on 10 carries, six of which went for touchdowns. He now has 26 touchdowns on the year.
— Highly touted Paul VI junior forward Marcus Derrickson committed to Georgetown Saturday. The Post’s Brandon Parker has all the details.
— Suitland used a a huge second half to blow past C.H. Flowers 27-6 and remain undefeated Saturday.
— Sidwell Friends freshman Ellie Leape showed Saturday why she has a bright future as a runner at the school, using a late burst to capture her first Independent School League Cross Country title.
–Here is a complete list of the top passers, rushers and receivers from Friday night football around the area.
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND
No. 6 Suitland takes down unbeaten C.H. Flowers
First and 17, Episode 9: Then and now
WHAT TO WATCH
Field Hockey: Marriotts Ridge at No. 1 Glenelg, 7 p.m.
Marriotts Ridge (13-2), winners of four straight, looks to upset the area’s top team in Glenelg (13-2) in a Maryland 2A East semifinal. The Mustangs handed the Gladiators their last loss in early September, 2-1.