UPPER MARLBORO – After defeating Eleanor Roosevelt in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association 4A South Regional Championship last season, Dr. Henry A. Wise, Jr. Head Coach DaLawn Parrish was cerebral and short with his words.
It was too early to celebrate an uncompleted mission, he said.
Fast-forward to Nov. 17 of this year, where his Pumas defeated the Raiders in the regionals once again, and Parrish, who’s been walking around with crutches all season, put his hands together and let out a big sigh of relief before speaking to his team.
“Guys, clap it up,” Parrish said before leading his team into a chorus of applause. “That is what we do!”
A dominating first-half performance, coupled with stellar running from its senior running backs, led Wise to a convincing 34-16 victory in an emotionally charged regional championship game.
The matchup, which saw two of the county’s best teams, intensified after Roosevelt (9-3) defeated Charles H. Flowers in the regional semifinals on Nov. 10. Roosevelt wide receiver Raymond Boone was seen on social media guaranteeing a victory over his Upper Marlboro rivals. Before the match spoke he again, calling Wise “average” to local media outlets.
However, the Pumas (12-0) had the upper hand thanks to two special teams mistakes in the first quarter which led to scoring opportunities.
First, a bad snap on a punt led to good field position for quarterback Quinton Williams to pass to wide receiver Isaiah Hazel for a 19-yard touchdown. On the ensuing possession, an overthrown snap past the punter was quickly collected by Dante Washington for Wise’s second score in four minutes.
“All week we talked about winning the three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams - and we wanted to dominate all three phases,” Parrish said. “As long as we rallied around and kept getting to the football, being aggressive, giving different looks up front, we would come out okay.”
The Pumas relied heavily on their running attack by seniors John Oliver and David Medley. While Oliver is known to get headlines, Medley has been a constant contributor to the offense. The duo, nicknamed “Thunder and Lightning,” combined for 179 yards, kept drives alive and accounted for three touchdowns in total.
“They both bring different things to the field,” Williams said. “When one leaves, we are not missing a beat when the other one comes in. As a team, it is good to see both of those guys flourish in the run game and the offensive line did a good job for them as well.”
Roosevelt improved in the second half, putting together long drives through option plays and designed quarterback runs with senior Jaden Faulkner. The quarterback, who completed 7-of-18 passes for 83 yards and an interception, was more efficient on the ground. He rushed for 84 yards and scored the team’s first touchdown in the third quarter.
Any dreams of a Raider comeback diminished on the Pumas opening drive in the fourth quarter. Oliver and Medley’s ground attack suffocated the Raiders' defense on back-to-back plays to solidify the win.
First, Oliver broke through the heart of the defense and was pushed out of bounds after a 31-yard gain. Medley followed up by bursting to the left side, finishing off a 39-yard run with a touchdown.
“It’s a one-two punch between me and (Oliver),” Medley said. “He’s a great running back, and we are unstoppable together.”
Emotions spilled over in the fourth quarter as Wise attempted to score its sixth touchdown of the game. Three consecutive personal fouls were called on the Roosevelt defense, enticing a brawl at the 1-yard line. Coaches attempted to separate the players while the referees called off the game with 2:29 remaining. Wise fans and players celebrated in unison as the Raiders slowly walked off the field.
Wise players openly said they were upset with Boone’s comments, even writing “average” on their towels and warm up gear. Parrish admitted that Boone's remarks fueled his team’s performance and Parrish demanded that they bring the same intensity next week in the state semifinals, regardless of their opponent.
“I took that as disrespect when they said we are average,” Oliver said. “If we are average, that makes them below average.
“The score doesn’t lie, and we proved to them that we are not average and hopefully, they are going to respect us more.”