|front page - search - community|
Ballou comes on strong
QB Scott, '2 James' backfield lead offense
(Published September 8, 2003)
By KATHRYN SINZINGER
The clock was ticking down in the fourth quarter, with less than five minutes left, and it looked like the Ballou Knights would be taking a frustrating 42-28 loss with them on the long trip home from Beckley, W.Va.
"It seemed like we were doing everything to lose the game," said Head Coach Noel Cyrus. "They rushed for almost 500 yards on us, but in the end we finally learned how to play ‘em and started stopping them."
But more than the Knights’ defense clicked in those final minutes Sept. 5 before a stunned crowd at Beckley Wilson’s Flying Eagle Stadium. Ballou’s offense, led by sophomore quarterback Nico Scott, scored three touchdowns in just over three minutes and took the lead, 46-42, with just 1:20 remaining.
"It was one of the best games I’ve been involved with – as a coach and even as a fan for years before that,"an elated Cyrus said of his team’s exciting come-from-behind victory.
The coach called his young quarterback’s stellar performance, with 14 completions for 312 yards and two touchdowns, "his coming out party."
"We’ve got two of the best backs in the DCIAA – the two Jameses [juniors James Richardson and James Martin] – and if our quarterback can put it together, we will be a force to be reckoned with," Cyrus said.
Ballou, which started its season a week ahead of the other nine D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association football teams by taking on the 10-time Ohio state champion Canton McKinley Bulldogs, is the first team in the league to post two victories. The Knights’ lone loss – their 32-14 season opener against McKinley on Aug. 22 – still was an "exciting" experience for the team, according to Coach Cyrus, including several big running plays by the Knights before a crowd of 6,000 high school football fans on the field where NFL players meet annually for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game.
Ballou shut out the Coolidge Colts, 35-0, Aug. 29 in their first home game of the season to post their first win. The Knights host the Roosevelt Rough Riders Sept. 12 at 7 p.m.
In other DCIAA season-opening games:
A thunderstorm suspended
play in the third quarter Aug. 29 with Head Coach Willie Stewart’s Anacostia
Indians on their way to a 15-7 victory over Roosevelt. League officials
say the game probably will not be completed. The Glen Mills (Pa.) Bulls
overwhelmed the Indians squad 38-0 on Sept. 5.
The Cardozo Clerks posted their first points of the season Sept. 5 in a 37-6 home loss to the defending DCIAA champion H.D. Woodson Warriors. The Warriors’ win came after a bruising 34-0 almost-loss to the Berwick (Pa.) Bulldogs on Aug. 29. The game was suspended before completion due to a thunderstorm. "It was a learning experience for us," Woodson Head Coach Gregory Fuller said of the season opener. "We made a lot of mistakes." Those mistakes included a holding penalty that negated a 95-yard kick return for a touchdown by tailback Dujuan Stover in the first quarter.
Dunbar’s Crimson Tide finds itself opening the season in an uncharacteristic place in the standings: dead last. Head Coach Craig Jefferies noted the Tide’s failure to convert on point-after-touchdown attempts "made the difference" in its 21-18 opening loss to Princeton (W.Va.) on Aug. 29. While the Tide’s offense put more points on the board Sept. 6, the defense failed to stop Parkdale (Md.) from handing Dunbar its first home loss, 38-28, since 1997.
The Eastern Ramblers opened their season Sept. 5 with an 18-6 loss to the Wilson Tigers in a game that saw senior receiver Sean Hardy miss the second half by heading to a hospital emergency room for stitches to close a seven-inch gash on his wrist. "He was upset. He didn’t want to go. He played his heart out," Assistant Coach Jackie Johnson said. Johnson, who is standing in while Head Coach Burnell Irby recovers from recent eye surgery, said he’s proud that his outmanned team played strong. "We don’t have the luxury of having 30-40-50 players like some of the other teams. A lot of our players had to play the entire game. I’m proud of them because they didn’t quit," Johnson said.
Roosevelt Head Coach Daryl Tilghman notes that sometimes the final score doesn’t tell the whole story when he talks about the Rough Riders’ 20-0 loss to Wheeling (W.Va.) Central catholic on Sept. 6. "We had two touchdowns called back on penalties," the coach said. "We had 17 penalties – that’s what killed us." Tilghman attributed many of the mistakes to his 24-man squad’s fatigue. "We need to work on getting into a little better shape," he said.
The Spingarn Green Wave was forced to forfeit its season opener to the Coolidge Colts, after failing to recruit enough players in time to suit up for the game. Allen Chin, director of athletics for D.C. Public Schools, said Spingarn has until league play begins in early October to get its team together or face forfeiture of the entire varsity football season. DCIAA rules require teams to have at least 18 players on their roster at least five days prior to a game to allow time for conditioning.
Head Coach Horace Fleming said he’s unhappy with the Wilson Tigers’ opening performance, despite their 18-6 win on Sept. 5 over the Eastern Ramblers. The Tigers failed to convert on three attempts, which Fleming said can’t be blamed on all-league kicker David Rosenbaum. "We had a real bad snapping problem," the coach said. "We’ve gotta correct that. It’s one thing to have a good kicker, but you need to get the rest of it together."
Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator