No. 11 Wise focused on bringing down Victor, No. 17 Northwestern
By Steve Yanda, Eric Detweiler, Greg Schimmel and Louis Nelson,
Game to watch: No. 17 Northwestern (4-0) at No. 11 Wise (4-0), Saturday, 2 p.m.
Northwestern senior running back Darius Victor has yet to rush for fewer than 135 yards in a game this season, and so, according to Wise Coach DaLawn Parrish, the primary objective for his team Saturday against the Wildcats is fairly obvious.
“We’re going to try to do what other people haven’t done,” said Parrish, “and that’s tackle him.”
Parrish acknowledged that task is easier stated than accomplished, especially owing to Victor’s unusually stocky build. At 5-foot-8 and 212 pounds, he assumes the likeness of a cannonball on the field. Victor – who has recorded 685 rushing yards this fall, fourth-most in the D.C. area – uses incomparable force to often bludgeon through a crowd of tacklers, or at least push it back a few extra yards.
Parrish pointed out that Victor carries more mass than the average high school linebacker, which the coach said weighs between 170-210 pounds. None of Wise’s three starting linebackers – seniors D’Angelo Niler, Franklin Porter and Benjamin Robinson – weigh more than 205 pounds.
“So [Victor] is running at kids with the speed he has, and he’s built like a dadgum offensive guard,” Parrish said. “That’s a little bit different. . . . The difference is we’re bigger than a lot of the teams he’s faced. So strength will meet strength, and we’ll see who can win.”
Indeed, Northwestern Coach Bryan Pierre described Wise as “bigger physically, size-wise, than any other team in” Prince George’s County. That attribute has helped the Pumas limit opponents to just 14 points total through their first four games.
But the Wildcats’ defense has been solid in its own right. Northwestern upset then-No. 7 C.H. Flowers, 19-14, in part due to a defense that frequently made critical stops and forced three turnovers. It didn’t hurt that Victor tallied 222 yards on a season-high 26 carries.
The Wildcats received good news Thursday morning when right offensive guard Victor Tamba (6-foot-5, 325 pounds) received medical clearance to play after having his injured left shoulder examined. Tamba is expected to start Saturday, and that only will aid Victor’s efforts.
Victor “is probably the best back we’re going to face this year,” Parrish said. “We’re going to gang-tackle him. We’re going to do what we always do, and that’s stay stout against the run.”
Around Prince George’s
After four straight Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A games to start the season, Gwynn Park (3-1) plays its first nonleague contest of the season, traveling to the District for a meeting with McKinley (1-4) on Friday night. The next three teams on the Yellow Jackets’ schedule have combined for two wins. ...
The lone matchup between Prince George’s 3A/2A/1A teams with winning records has Forestville (3-1, 1-1) hosting Crossland (3-1, 1-1) on Saturday. Both squads started the season with three wins before losing last week. Forestville junior Marcel Joly — the league’s leading rusher — has increased his rushing output in each of the first four games, including a season-high 143 yards on 28 carries last week against Largo.
Around Southern Maryland
Heading into the teams’ Week 5 matchup last season, Huntingtown was 4-0 and tied for the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference lead, and North Point was one game behind after a loss to undefeated Patuxent the week before.
That’s the exact scenario again this year, and Huntingtown (4-0, 3-0 SMAC) hopes to learn from last season’s loss, when a late comeback attempt fell short and North Point (3-1, 2-1) handed Huntingtown its only regular-season defeat, 14-7.
“It’s eerily similar to last year,” said Huntingtown Coach Brendan Galligan, a Hurricanes assistant last season. “We’ve got a lot of guys back from last year and hopefully we can learn from our mistakes. They came out and physically whooped us last year.”
Unlike last season when a few big plays helped Patuxent beat North Point, the Eagles enter Friday’s game coming off an emphatic 31-8 loss to the No. 14 Panthers in a game in which they were clearly outplayed.
Still, Friday’s game features two of the SMAC’s most physical teams, who have historically relied on power running styles.
Even though both sides say they are trying to throw more this season, expect a matchup similar to last year’s, when both teams were held well below their season averages for points and total offense.
“Their hallmark has been speed on both sides of the ball and a tough physical defense,” Galligan said. “They still have that.”
Around Anne Arundel
Two weeks ago, when his team traveled to No. 19 Arundel, Meade Coach Rich Holzer knew his team wasn’t ready to play.
Coming in undefeated with a pair of shutouts already under their belt, Holzer said the Mustangs were over-confident and unprepared after their worst week of practices all season. Meade got a stern reality check in the form of a 40-8 drubbing.
“Being a young team, what ends up happening is you get overconfident and you don’t work as hard,” Holzer said. “We actually told them as a staff that Thursday before we played Arundel, we said this is the worst week of practice we’ve had all year. You guys are not ready. We’re going to go in there and it’s not going to be pretty. We called it going into it.”
The Mustangs (3-1) will get a shot at redemption Saturday night with another road game against Anne Arundel County’s other undefeated team, No. 7 Old Mill (4-0). Holzer willingly describes the Mustangs as a “second-tier” team in the county, and he said Saturday is a chance for Meade to make a statement by beating one of the county’s traditional powers.
“To take that next step we got to beat one of those better teams,” he said. “I told the kids there’s no point in talking about anything else until we knock one of those teams off because that’s what needs to happen for us to advance.”
Old Mill has had no problems scoring points this season, putting up 96 points in its last two games alone, but Holzer said the Patriots’ run-based offense will offer more favorable matchups for his team than fast-paced, pass-heavy Arundel did. Just as important as the matchups though, Holzer said his team is prepared mentally this time, having already learned its lesson.
“Obviously no coach wants to take a loss, but I think with a young team, sometimes you need to take a butt-kicking to move forwards,” he said. “With football, eventually you are going to face adversity and hardship at some point in your career, so hopefully we’ve experienced it, learned from it, and they’ll know how to react to it from now on.”
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