Even though there are still two regular season games left, any Prince George’s County football coach will tell you that the old playoff mantra of “surviving and advancing” is already proving easier said than done.
Several Prince George’s teams are dealing with top players playing hurt or not playing at all, and a few saw key players suffer new injuries this weekend.
No. 6 Suitland’s wide receiver/defensive back Nick Nelson played against then-No. 20 C.H. Flowers (7-1, 6-1 Prince George’s 4A) with a forearm-length hard cast protecting a broken thumb suffered two weeks ago against Bladensburg. The big-play receiver was limited to defense by the club, which didn’t stop him from making an interception in a 27-6 statement win for the Rams (8-0, 7-0). His replacement on the offensive side was sophomore Tevin Singleton, who took advantage of his opportunity with three catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Besides losing that game, previously undefeated Flowers saw its quarterback Malik White leave the game with a concussion in the third quarter. White was coming off a week in which he completed 7 of 8 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns, and may not be ready when Flowers takes on No. 16 DuVal (7-1, 6-1) on Friday or Wise (5-3, 4-3) in the regular season finale.
The wildest game in Prince George’s county action this weekend came when Forestville (6-2, 4-2 PG 3A/2A/1A) hosted Friendly (4-4, 3-3). The Knights were without their two most dynamic playmakers, running back Smith Merzeir and Iowa-bound running back/return man/defensive back Marcel Joly, both of whom were nursing injuries.
After Khalil Proctor pinned the Patriots for a safety on the first play after the game’s opening kickoff, Forestville gave up 16 unanswered points and gave Friendly three fumbles, all before rallying in a second half that turned into a game of big-play one-upping until a small play — a one-yard run from Knights quarterback Earon Settles with 32 seconds left— gave the Knights the 38-34 win.
With that victory, Forestville currently holds one of four playoff spots in the Maryland 1A North region, though the Knights will need to finish strong against Largo (2-6, 2-5) and Potomac (Md.) (4-4, 4-2) in the regular season finale.
Knights Coach Charles Harley said he hopes to have Smith, who was out with a concussion, and Joly back before long.
Joly injured his knee before his team’s loss to Surrattsville on Oct. 14 and aggravated the injury on Oct. 19 against Douglass when a lineman fell on him.
“We took him to get an MRI. He’s got just a sprain fortunately, so he’s down for a few weeks,” Harley said of Joly. “I think we’re in a good place. If we get Marcel back at some point and Smith, for sure, I think we’ll be in a good place. We gutted out a win [against] Friendly, who’s had some tough losses, but that’s not a bad team.”
Even if Merzeir and Joly aren’t ready to go by Saturday’s game against Largo, the Knights will find their road to the playoffs made smoother by the absence of the Lions’ top defensive playmaker, sophomore Myles Wolfolk.
Wolfolk — the younger brother of Suitland QB Wesley Wolfolk — made seven interceptions and 38 tackles in the first seven games of the season, but broke his arm in an Oct. 19 win against Crossland. He played with the break and recorded three interceptions — one for a touchdown — in the game. Wolfolk’s arm was casted after that game, keeping him out of this weekend’s 41-0 loss to Douglass (6-2, 5-1) and for the rest of the season.