“Initially, we had a lot of distractions that made it difficult to focus on just football-specific things or create any type of type of continuity, which affected our players,” said Fred Groves, the Jaguars’ interim coach. “For the first few weeks, we had a revolving door with our coaching staff. Different guys would be suspended and reinstated as the investigation went on. There were times when the guys didn’t know what time practice was or who’d be there when they got there.”
The uncertainty caused a rift within the team.
“After the news of Coach Powell’s suspension, the team’s focus seemed to shift from team success to individual success,” Groves said. “Guys were coming into things with the mind-set that they need to just focus on getting film and securing offers because a state championship wasn’t on the table.”
With his full staff of assistant coaches reinstated, Groves challenged the Jaguars to come together as a family and play for the suspended Powell.
“This is supposed to be a family,” Groves said. “Coach is down right now, but we can’t desert him. We need to pick him up by going out and getting these wins.”
The Jaguars (3-2) took a big step toward that end by shutting down a high-octane Bowie offense that came in averaging 30.5 points.
With the defense holding the Bulldogs (3-2) scoreless, the Jaguars’ offense turned to workhorse running back Tristan Shannon to grind down Bowie’s defense.
Shannon finished with 144 yards rushing, highlighted by a 50-yard touchdown run with nine minutes remaining to seal the victory.
“For the offense to step up when we needed it and then the defense to come out and just do what it does — shut people out — was huge,” safety LaTreil Wimberly said. “With pretty much everyone back, we needed to come together and make a statement, and I think that beating a good team, 16-0, did just that.”