BELTSVILLE – During the week, David Dupree approached his coach, Carlos Lockwood, about the possibility of him returning kickoffs.
Dupree, the main cog in DuVal’s offense, felt he could help out after an injury sidelined the team’s usual returner.
Lockwood resisted the idea of putting his star running back in harm’s way at first, but with the score already in the Tigers’ favor in the third quarter, finally granted Dupree his wish.
On his very first return, Dupree made his coach look like a genius, as the 5-foot-10, 200-pound senior scorched through an open lane created by the Tigers’ special teams, slowed down for a final block, and then took off for a 90-yard touchdown.
“I hope he doesn’t get comfortable (returning kicks) because I am going to pull him off,” Lockwood said with a smile.
Dupree’s kickoff return was the defining statement for DuVal, who displayed complete domination away from home. The senior rushed for 172 yards on 24 carries and racked up a combined five touchdowns. Together with a five-interception performance by the Tiger defense, DuVal crushed High Point, 44-0 on Sept. 29, to go to 4-1 on the season.
DuVal took control from the opening kickoff, forcing one of three special team turnovers to get the ball back on the High Point 20-yard line. Two plays later, Dupree powered through would-be tacklers for a 14-yard touchdown. Dupree scored two more rushing touchdowns before halftime, including a thundering 40-yard run.
High Point (3-2) struggled to get into a rhythm offensively against the Tigers’ defense. In their five first-half drives, the Eagles turned the ball over three times and punted twice.
Late in the first quarter, High Point quarterback Justin Anderson attempted to throw deep downfield, but it was picked off by DuVal senior free safety Christopher Canaday for his fifth interception of the year.
DuVal cornerback Marcus Jones also exploded with a breakout performance, collecting three straight interceptions, two of which came before halftime. The senior, who had not intercepted a pass coming into the game, said he figured out the type of routes the Eagle receivers were running and felt conformable getting to the ball each time.
“I had to contribute and get to the ball every single time because I noticed that every time they threw the ball, they were going to let it fly regardless,” Jones said. “They weren’t going to do nothing more than that, so I had to get to the ball and contain it.”
DuVal quarterback Akil Woods, Jr. was used sparingly in the first half, but managed to throw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Aljareek Malry midway through the second quarer.
Lockwood continued his quarterback rotation, giving junior Demaj Smith some reps in the second half. On his first play in the fourth quarter, he ripped through the defense for a 77-yard run for the final score of the game.
“(Woods and Smith) both feed off of each other,” Lockwood said. “They like it when one comes in for the other. They are each other's biggest cheerleaders, and it is working.”
The home loss for High Point (3-2) was a reality check. Despite winning their first three games of the season, the Eagles struggled to move the ball and limit turnovers.
High Point Head Coach Wilbert Brinson, Sr. hopes starting quarterback Vernon Patten will be healthy enough to play next week against Surrattsville. If not, the team may turn to JV quarterback and freshman Keshaun Griffin to fill the role.
“They are not used to where we are at right now,” Brinson, Sr. said. “We got a tag on our back, and we came out 3-0. Therefore people are preparing for us now. It is not going to be easy, but being a championship team comes with a cause, and that is what we are. Win, lose or draw, we are going to stick to the routine and the program, and that is the biggest thing.”
The Tigers’ next matchup, at home against Eleanor Roosevelt on Oct. 7, could be a preview of a potential state playoff matchup. However, for Dupree, it will be a family affair, as he will square off against his cousin, safety and University of Maryland commit Raymond Boone. The pair has spoken about the matchup, with Boone promising to stop the Tigers running back.
But Dupree thinks that is one promise destined to be broken.
“Nah, I am going to do the same thing I did this week,” Dupree said.