Less than 24 hours before he took the field against Westlake Friday night, Friendship Collegiate running back Jonathan Haden watched his brother, Joe, dominate at cornerback for the Cleveland Browns against the Buffalo Bills. Shortly after, Jonathan Haden received a phone call from his NFL brother, who told him “to go out there and ball out.”
Haden took the advice to the heart, then he took it the the field. The Arizona commit was the most dazzling player on the field Friday, rushing 25 times for 108 yards and one touchdown to lead the 12th-ranked Knights to a 27-0 nonleague win over the Wolverines in Waldorf.
“I felt pretty good. It doesn’t matter how many carries I get,” Haden said. “Just as many as we need to win.”
Friday marked the first time in three weeks the Knights (3-1) played a game — following a bye and a cancelled contest — and it also marked the only area matchup the team will play this season.
There was a little rust. Yet it was quickly varnished thanks to the jitterbug moves of Haden and a college prospect-filled defense that allowed just 137 total yards and no trips to the red zone by the Wolverines (3-2).
Friendship Collegiate chewed up most of the second quarter with a 14-play drive capped by a nine-yard touchdown run by Kelvit Barrett (eight carries, 97 yards) to make it 7-0 with about two minutes remaining in the half. The game was not close after that.
At least in part it’s because that’s where Haden took over. After Westlake stalled on its first possession of the second half, cornerback Jalen Tabor (who allowed no completions and also had an interception) returned a punt 30 yards to the Westlake 24. Haden mopped up the rest on four straight carries, the last being a two-yard plunge that made the score 14-0 and gave the Knights’ defense the upper hand for the rest of the evening.
“It was really important to show our fans how we doing, and that we’re making progress,” Haden said.
Friendship Coach Aazar Abdul-Rahim herded his players into a cramped locker room after the win, stood on a bench and gave a short speech. He applauded the defense’s efforts for the full four quarters — and told the offense it played well the final two — but that the team would have to be sharper next week, when Friendship Collegiate hosts national power Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.
It was the type of speech Abdul-Rahim has grown accustomed to. His team has already played two national powers in Florida and has trips to New York and New Jersey still on the slate.
“I don’t feel like we’re a good team right now, just because we’ve missed on so many opportunities. But we’re a work in progress,” Abdul-Rahim said, who added his team scrimmaged Gilman last week to help with the long layoff. “We have tough kids.”