The DuVal football team played its final five games last year, including the playoffs, without star Antoine Brooks. But only when this season began did senior Armando Alvarado truly understand the challenge facing the Tigers this fall.
Brooks, now on scholarship at Maryland, almost single-handedly led the Lanham school’s re-emergence as a perennial postseason contender in Prince George’s County. But he had been more than the team’s best player. He was a quarterback, a running back, a safety and the face of DuVal football.
This feeling was only reinforced when former Coach Dameon Powell left for C.H. Flowers during the offseason and, in the first game this season, handed the Tigers their first loss of the fall.
“We were still trying to find who we are and what we are,” Alvarado said. “We had a lot of key players that we never knew we had. We had to re-evaluate everything. What can you do?”
That identity is starting to take shape after DuVal won its fourth game in a row with a 43-0 shutout of High Point Saturday. The Tigers face No. 2 Wise Saturday almost a year to the day after Brooks suffered a gruesome season-ending injury against the Pumas, and they’ll look a lot different this time around.
Since last October, DuVal (4-1) has been able to uncover several weapons that may have gone overlooked during Brooks’s spectacular high school career. Tailback David Dupree is the most notable name. The junior has rushed for more than 100 yards in every game during this winning streak, including a 313-yard, three-touchdown performance against Parkdale last month.
Both new Coach Carlos Lockwood and Alvarado credited the increased role Dupree saw in Brooks’s absence last year for setting the stage for a breakout 2016.
“It helped us a lot because I already knew how it feels and what to do this year,” Dupree said. “We’ve got more people that got to make plays.”
Add in Alvarado, an imposing 330-pound two-way lineman, new quarterback Conrad Smith and potential Division I cornerback recruit Brandon Harrell, and DuVal has the makings of a playoff team once again.
But Lockwood, who previously served as the team’s defensive coordinator, understands the Tigers are about to enter the teeth of their Prince George’s County 4A schedule. He wants to see how this group responds when faced with adversity.
This entire experience has been “a roller coaster ride,” he noted, but his team appears to be finding its way again.
“Now that we have these four wins, we know what talent we have. We know what we can do and what we’re good at,” Alvarado said. “We learned we can’t always rely on one person.”
First-quarter deficit Gwynn Park faced in its 30-14 win over Fairmont Heights Friday night. The Yellow Jackets (5-0) eventually gained more than 470 yards of total offense while surging through the second half.
QB Troy Garrett, Bowie, Jr.
Four of Garrett’s nine completions went for touchdowns in Friday’s 49-7 win over Laurel and he also added 73 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He had 277 passing yards and hit four different receivers on his scoring throws.
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