Theodore Roosevelt has stormed to a 3-0 start after downing Ron Brown High School, 42-0, in its home opener Thursday. The Rough Riders have displayed a potent offense this season, including in a season-opening 43-20 win over a Falls Church team that shut them out last season. Third-year Coach Chris Harden said this year’s Roosevelt squad has a more mature and complete game as it faces its first season in the Stars Division.
“I think the growth of our kids is different this year,” Harden said. “The key was learning the system and binding to the program.”
After capturing their second straight District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association title in the Stripes Division last year, Harden said his team spent the summer working with strength and conditioning coach Denny Marshall to prepare for their promotion to a tougher division.
Harden praised senior quarterback Leon Gray for his contributions on the scoresheet and in the huddle. He said the four-year starter’s football IQ and presence has pushed players around him to be better.
“His maturity level has picked up and [so has] his eye for the game,” Harden said. “But he has become a great leader.”
Through the first two games of the season, Gray threw for 426 yards and six touchdowns, and was again prominent against Ron Brown.
The Rough Riders do not have a game this weekend, and the Sept. 28 game against Ballou is one they have had circled on their calendars in anticipation. Harden sees the matchup against the reigning DCIAA champions as a chance for his team to quiet anybody who thinks it can’t compete in the Stars Division.
“We’re ready to prove to some people that we can play ball,” Harden said. “We’re ready to prove that we can compete in this division.”
Transfer Fonnae Webb leading Mount Vernon to another strong start
If Mount Vernon beats Wakefield this weekend, the Majors will have their second consecutive 5-0 start. That’s impressive for any team, in any context, but it’s especially momentous for Mount Vernon. Why? From 1988 to 2016, the Majors didn’t start any season even 3-0.
“We feel good,” Coach Monty Fritts said two days after his team beat Washington-Lee to reach 4-0. “We had a lot of talented guys returning, and this is my third year here. A lot of kids understand the expectations.”
One key player who had to understand the expectations surrounding Mount Vernon and its high-scoring offense was quarterback Fonnae Webb. The junior transferred from McKinley Tech this summer, inheriting a complex offense that averaged 41 points per game last year and was losing star running back Darrien Newton to graduation.
“At first it was an adjustment because I didn’t throw much at McKinley,” Webb said. “But Coach Fritts helped me through it, and it became an easy adjustment.”
Webb has thrived as the centerpiece of the Majors’ offense, making plays with his arm and his legs. In four games he has seven touchdowns through the air and nine on the ground.
“He’s really stepped in and been incredible for us,” Fritts said.
Episcopal is leaning on its defense
Episcopal’s 21-17 win Thursday against Gilman looked bleak at times. The Maroon gave up 17 unanswered points by the second quarter and committed five turnovers, including three fumbles lost in the first three drives. The sky looked literally bleak, too, as the team’s season opener was rescheduled from Saturday because of Hurricane Florence. But thanks to its tenacious defense, Episcopal was able to stay in the game and eventually win.
“What held us in the game was our defense,” first-year Coach Mark Moroz said. “Offensively, we were put in some bad positions, but our defense bailed us out and kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win.”
Safety Litchfield Ajavon, a Notre Dame commit, led Episcopal’s defense, which held Gilman scoreless in the second half. Overall, Episcopal held the Greyhounds to 189 yards, an average of just 2.4 yards per play.
Also, that Gilman was already deep into its season was another challenge for the Maroon.
“I knew our biggest obstacle was going to be the fact that this was Gilman’s fourth game and our first game,” Moroz said. “I knew we were going to have some cobweb and dust to get off, and that was obvious.”
But with timely plays, Episcopal mustered an exciting comeback.
Juanell Walker broke off a 57-yard rush for a touchdown in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Emmett Morehead shouldered the pressure of replacing Seth Agwunobi, who now plays for Temple. Though Morehead threw two interceptions, he connected with Jamall Mensah for two touchdowns.
“It was certainly a challenge because the week before we could barely practice with the heat being so high,” Moroz said. “Going off the limited practices, we knew we were going to be rusty, but our guys were as ready as they were going to be. I’m happy we got the game in.”
– David J. Kim
Blount Brothers score clutch touchdown for St. Charles
Over the past three years, Kameron Blount has set aside time during practices and in the summer to throw to his brother, Konner.
Kameron Blount, a Maryland commit, primarily plays linebacker, but he played quarterback growing up, so he has learned his brother’s speed and tendencies on routes.
That practice paid off Thursday night. Kameron Blount connected with his brother on a game-winning Hail Mary in St. Charles’ 12-6 win over Westlake, which secured the Spartans’ first 3-0 start in school history.
“That’s like deja vu,” Kameron Blount said, “because we’ve done that like a million times growing up.”
Kameron Blount is ranked by 247Sports as the second-best outside linebacker recruit in Maryland, but to keep Westlake off-balance, St. Charles used the senior at quarterback Thursday.
Konner Blount practices jumping over defensive backs and catching balls off tips.
With time expiring Thursday, Konner Blount remembered how Green Bay Packers receivers positioned themselves to catch quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ Hail Mary touchdowns. Kameron Blount chucked the ball into the end zone from about 60 yards away. The ball was tipped, and as it fell to the ground, the officials ruled Konner Blount caught it.
Konner Blount credited much of the Spartans’ success to first-year Coach Patrick Orndoff’s up-tempo offense that fits his players’ athleticism.
“When it’s fourth quarter, everybody’s still fresh and ready to go,” Konner Blount said, “while the other team is still trying to get its wind.”
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