Even months later, the C.H. Flowers football team still uses words like “overwhelmed” and “wow” when talking about the collection of assistants new Coach Cato June convinced to join his coaching staff this fall. The players already knew about June, the former NFL linebacker who came to the Springdale school after three seasons coaching at Anacostia. But they weren’t prepared to meet some of the other local football all-stars that now patrol the Jaguars’ practice fields with him.
There’s offensive coordinator Walter Cross, who played at Michigan with June and was the All-Met offensive player of the year at Oxon Hill when June was named the All-Met defensive player of the year in 1997. There’s wide receivers coach Derrick Williams, a two-time All-Met at Eleanor Roosevelt who was considered the nation’s top recruit back in 2004 and played wide receiver at Penn State and in the NFL. And then there’s running backs coach Bruce Perry, an ACC offensive player of the year at Maryland who also played in the NFL.
“We were amazed just how these stars are coming to coach us,” offensive lineman Nanakofi Appiah said.
This infusion of Washington area football royalty has Flowers off to an encouraging start. A week after giving No. 8 DuVal all it could handle in a closer-than-expected loss, the Jaguars scored their first win of the June era — and their first win since last October — in a 46-0 victory over High Point Friday night.
June compiled a 12-23 record coaching at Anacostia, his alma mater. But he has quickly become one of the most intriguing figures in Prince George’s County football because of what he could be building with a coaching staff he “can always brag on.” The team’s captains said the vibe around the team this fall is entirely different and more organized, with an emphasis put on film study, the intensity of workouts and time management on and off the field.
“It actually feels like we’re in college,” running back Jose Holloway said. “It’s real good for the whole team because we get to have coaches that have experience in our dreams and where we want to go and can give those lessons.”
Though Flowers has just three returning starters this year, June believes he “has the ability to do more” at his new school. He had 120 students come out for football at Flowers this fall compared to just 40 or 50 at Anacostia. He doesn’t need to use players on both sides of ball anymore and can give them more individualized attention in practice.
Already, linebacker Nick Covington, who previously played at Bowie, returned a punt and an interception for touchdowns. Defensive back Andre Boone also has two interceptions through two games. Holloway has more than 200 rushing yards running behind Appiah, a 6-foot-7 left tackle “that’s come out of nowhere,” June said.
“I know that it’s not going to happen overnight, he added. “But I know that I have a lot of help, a lot of guys that have a lot of playing experience as well as coaching and some knowledge, which is helpful.”
Perhaps most importantly, having so many former football stars around the field naturally builds expectations, from the stories they tell to the drills they can impart.
Even though the players aren’t starstruck any longer, there’s still a growing sense that “what we have in front of us is special and we need to take care of everything we need to,” Boone said.
“I look up to all of them, and to be honest, I want to be better than them,” Covington added. “I’m always trying to be better, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have a problem with that.”
Eleanor Roosevelt lost more than 30 seniors from a team that went undefeated during last year’s regular season, and the roster turnover showed in a season-opening loss to Riverdale Baptist. But the Raiders saw some welcome progress during Saturday’s 38-0 win over Laurel.
After making a couple personnel changes, Eleanor Roosevelt scored on its first four possessions of the game. Junior tailback Karl Mofor had two touchdowns and quarterback Teyon Davis added a 44-yard touchdown run executing the Raiders’ triple option in the first quarter. Mofor had been nursing a high ankle sprain since the preseason, but Coach Tom Green said he looked healthier than he had in some time.
“Before, he wasn’t really running through tackles with that ankle,” Green said. “He was just laying down on contact and not accelerating through contact like he did [Saturday].”
The Raiders face Northwestern next week before a highly anticipated matchup with C.H. Flowers at Byrd Stadium on Sep. 26.
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