ROCKVILLE – The War at Wootton 7 on 7 Tournament featured some of the area’s top high school football programs including Bullis, Quince Orchard and Gaithersburg but it was only fitting that the host team capture top honors Saturday at Wootton High School.
Led by a core unit that featured quarterback Grant Saylor and wide receivers Noelly Miller and Elijah Trent, the Patriots defeated Avalon in the championship game to earn the top prize.
“I just wanted to show everybody that Wootton is a football school,” said Miller, a second team All-Sentinel performer last season. “The past couple years we’ve been [expected] to lose every game but I want to change that and turn our whole program around. We’ve got a lot of talent obviously and I think we have a good chance of making the playoffs this year.”
The Patriots boast the county’s top returning passing unit with Saylor, Trent and Miller all expected to make a significant impact on the gridiron during the 2017 campaign. Saturday’s championship gave the Patriots momentum heading into the regular season.
“It’s a major confidence booster,” said Trent, who holds scholarship offers from seven Division college programs.
Saylor, a rising senior, returns for his third season on the varsity squad. Miller (1,035) and Trent (856) combined for nearly 2,000 yards receiving and were Montgomery County’s second and third leading receivers last year.
Despite suffering through a mediocre 5-5 campaign in 2016, the Patriots are set to make a run for the postseason this fall.
“The attitude is a lot more positive,” said Wootton offensive coordinator Chris Papadopoulos. “We’ve got kids that want to be right here and that’s the biggest difference.”
Alec Yassin, a rising junior defensive back, had a key interception in Wootton’s semifinal victory over Quince Orchard on Saturday and should make a contribution on offense at wide receiver during the regular season.
Ralin Lewis, a rising junior, should also contribute on the defensive side of the ball as a safety or outside linebacker.
“Everyone wants to win and be their best,” said Lewis, the son of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis. “To know that we made it to the finals and won is amazing.”
The Wootton Tournament also featured various Division I prospects including Avalon’s Noah Taylor (Virginia commit) and Reggie Anderson who holds an offer from Morgan State. Quince Orchard quarterback Doc Bonner holds offers from Towson, Bucknell, Morgan State and Dartmouth among others.
Ricky Slade, a Division I prospect from C.D. Hylton High School in Woodbridge, Va. was also among the War at Wootton participants.
Slade, a 5-foot-9, 185-pound running back, has already committed to play at Penn State in 2018. “Football had a part in it,” Slade said about his pledge to Penn State, “but it was more involved with the academic part.”