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Season preview: Douglass takes steps to avenge back-to-back state title losses

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Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Douglass sophomore quarterback Devin Butler plans to use his legs more this season to add another element to the Eagles’ offense.

Photo by Daniel Kucin Jr. Douglass sophomore quarterback Devin Butler plans to use his legs more this season to add another element to the Eagles’ offense.

Published on: Wednesday, August 21, 2013

By Daniel Kucin Jr.

Julius Pinkney watched his Frederick Douglass High School football team fall to Middletown in the state title game for the second time in as many years at M&T Bank Stadium in December.

After falling 30-12 to the Upper Marlboro school’s arch nemesis, the Douglass head coach knew changes were needed to win the Maryland 2A State Championship this season.

Last season, Douglass entered the state championship with a freshman quarterback. But, Devin Butler didn’t play like a rookie — leading the Eagles to an 11-1 season record. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound gunslinger also racked up 1,100 passing yards and threw 13 touchdown passes.

Despite Butler’s success through the air, Pinkney plans to utilize the sophomore quarterback’s speed and versatility this season. Butler rushed for 324 yards and four touchdowns last season.

“We have a quarterback who understands the offense after playing a full year,” Pinkney said. “Physically, (Butler) has matured a lot since last year. He knows what he sees when he breaks the huddle. ... He is like another coach on the field now.

“I think he is going to run the ball a lot more than last year. We are going to rely on his legs a lot more this year. We still plan to throw the ball, but I know we can put the ball anywhere on the field.”

Douglass has been a steady powerhouse in Prince George’s County. Douglass is considered to be one of Maryland’s top 15 football dynasties with a ranking of 11th place, according to high school athletics website MaxPreps. Currently, Douglass has a record of 100-24 and has gone 769-590 against its opponents since 2003.

The offense will return most of last season’s running backs. Leading rusher Devonte Williams graduated, but the Eagles retained two rising seniors — Kenneth Freeman and Avery Wood — who are poised to put up big rushing totals this season. Freeman and Wood combined for 905 yards and eight touchdowns.

D’sean Cummings was the heart and soul of the Eagles’ defense last season with 91 tackles, eight sacks, two forced fumbles and one recovery. He will suit up for Towson University this season.

“We have a lot of guys who have veteran experience, and they are gelling real well,” said Pinkney. “On the defensive side of the ball, we have a good core of guys back for us. So, we really feel good about our situation. We lost some household names, but we have Malcolm McCoy, Gary Gross Jr., and Devonta High. So, we have a good nucleus of guys that knows what we want and our expectations.”

Pinkney is optimistic about what his returning starters will bring to the table as the team prepares for its first game of the 2013-2014 season. The Douglass Eagles take on the Wise Pumas at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex in Landover.

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