LANHAM – David Dupree never stopped running. Nor could the Northwestern Wildcats slow him down.
With the rain drizzling early in the fourth quarter, the senior dashed through an open lane and sprinted down the field. Despite defenders trying to tackle him, the DuVal running back arrived at the endzone untouched before slowing down.
“I just knew I was gone, so I stopped running fast,” Dupree said. “I was supposed to go left, but I had seen the hole on the right open up and just cut back right and I was open.”
Dupree waltzed his way to 183 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries, helping kick off the Tigers’ 2017 high school football season with a 26-12 home victory over Northwestern on Sept. 2.
The running back’s stellar performance came after a tumultuous week for DuVal (1-0), as Head Coach Carlos Lockwood, who frequently focused on the defensive side of the ball, took over playcalling duties following the departure of the offensive coordinator. The offense had one week to adjust, with the possibility of playing a two-quarterback system making things even harder.
Meanwhile, all Dupree needed was the ball. After a recovered onside kick on the opening kickoff, Dupree ran for a 6-yard touchdown to give the Tigers an early lead. Then, right before halftime, he bounced past Northwestern defenders through a huge gap in the heart of the defense to score his second touchdown of the game.
Earlier, quarterback Akil Woods had enough time to find a wide-open Maurice Lyles for a 70-yard touchdown, increasing the lead to 14-0.
“I had seen that the safety wasn’t playing to the trips side,” Woods said. “So I went left and came back to my right and saw my teammate was wide open.”
Standout performances from transfer guard Abraham Bonilla and freshman tackle Jamal Hines allowed the Tigers’ offense to constantly threaten for points. The line’s contributions made the offense more efficient, and Dupree’s runs even more dangerous, Lockwood said.
“With this O-line being so young and having limited experience playing with one another, they feed off of that,” Lockwood said. “So, while he had three touchdowns, it was because of their blocking.”
The Wildcats (0-1) battled to keep the score close even though four of their key players were out due to injuries. As starting quarterback Jonathan Senoga watched the game from the sidelines with crutches, senior Darren O’Neal took control operating Northwestern’s offense and threw two touchdown passes.
With injuries to wide receivers George Sparks and Myles Brodie as well, Northwestern Head Coach Bryan Pierre knew his running game would have to be flawless to succeed. Running backs Binson Mondestin and Shaka Victor, along with junior wide receiver Davae Clegg, attempted to provide some relief to the running game, combining for 65 yards in three quarters of play, but couldn’t add a rushing touchdown.
“Those two guys are hard runners inside, and we want to keep giving them the ball, and they are going to keep carrying us,” Pierre said. “Once I get my front guys to block and them guys the ball, we are going to be okay.”
For Lockwood, the victory cannot overshadow some of the team’s deficiencies, including stopping the run and avoiding costly penalties. Five of DuVal’s first six flags were before the snap. If DuVal wants to defeat Gwynn Park on Sept. 9, it will have to limit those mistakes, he said.
“We scored four touchdowns today, so it looks good on the paper,” Lockwood said. “We just got to build off of this. We laid the foundation down, and now it’s time to build week in and week out and keep calling good plays.”