High School

Wise defeats Flowers, advances to Maryland 4A state semi-finals

Chad Ricardo

Wise defeats Flowers, advances to Maryland 4A state semi-finals

If the second-seeded Flowers Jaguars were slated to be Wises’ first true test of the season, the Pumas passed with flying colors.

Wise defeated Flowers 35-6 Friday night to advance to the Maryland 4A state semi-finals. 

The Pumas pounced on the Jags out of the gate. On their opening possession, Wise quickly moved the ball down the field, capping the drive with a 34-yard touchdown run by Jalil Farooq.

The Jags responded with a long opening drive of their own, mixing in short completions by Amanni Stewart with physical runs from back Tristan Shannon. Flowers meticulously marched the ball down the field and on 4th and goal, Stewart inched the ball into the end zone on a quarterback sneak.

Following a failed conversion attempt, the Jags had cut the Pumas lead to 7-6. It was the last time Flowers would score.

Midway through the second, Jalil Farooq would electrify the crowd by finding the end zone again. 

“I saw an opportunity and my quarterback put me in position to take advantage of it,” said Farooq.

Sophomore quarterback Jayden Sauray took a 3-step drop and delivered a dime down the left sideline, hitting Farooq in stride for a 56-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead.

“I saw they were in cover 3 and they were pressing up and I know no one can press up on my wide receivers,” said Sauray, “I looked over at Jalil and knew he wanted the ball so I gave him a shot and you see the end result."

The Jags were held to a 3-and-out on their next possession and forced to punt. When the Flowers punter mishandled the snap, he was tackled in the backfield, resulting in a turnover on downs. The Pumas quickly turned the Jags mishap into points when running back Terron Kellman slivered into the end zone for 6. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Wise forced another Flowers special-teams turnover, again delivering the ball to the Pumas offense deep in the Jags territory. Sauray would convert the opportunity into his second touchdown of the evening, this time calling his own number as he ran it in from 22 yards out giving the Pumas a commanding 28-6 lead before the half.

“We had a mesh combo, and I saw their linebackers bail out. My line did a phenomenal job opening a hole for me and the rest was history,” said Sauray.

In the second half Flowers twice drove the ball inside the Pumas 10-yard line, but each time Wises’ defense was able to prevent the Jags from scoring. 

“We were relentless [on defense],” said head coach Dalawn Parrish, “a portion of our game plan was to not let them just drive on us all night long. Eventually we were going to get a hold of them and swarm to the football and because of that, we were able to get a lot of big stops."

Led by Tracey White, the Wise defense has been excellent all season. The Jags became the 10th opponent in 12 games that the Pumas have held in single digits.

Wise will meet Old Mill next week in the Maryland 4A state semifinal.


St. John's athletic director out and source says football coach considering exit

Matt Seal

St. John's athletic director out and source says football coach considering exit

Athletic director Brian Griffin has left St. John’s and accepted the position of Director of Football and IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla).

On Griffins’ watch, the Cadets excelled in myriad athletic endeavors, becoming the region’s powerhouse in multiple sports.

“St. John’s is grateful for Brian Griffin’s leadership, passion, dedication and commitment to our students and the school community,” said Jeff Mancabelli, St. John’s president in a statement. 

“During the past six years, our student-athletes earned 29 WCAC championships, but more importantly, they learned important life lessons and what it means to support one another,”

According to those who worked with him, Griffin was dedicated to the development of the total student-athlete; investing in their lives both on and off of the playing fields.

“Under his leadership, St. John’s elevated its athletic programs to the highest standards,” said Mancabelli. “Building a foundation of support services and creating a culture of excellence that emphasized personal responsibility and what it means to be a part of a team.”

The St. John’s football program endured a grueling schedule last season. Seven of their opponents finished the year ranked nationally. They traveled as far as Texas and hosted the likes of Mater Dei (Ca) and IMG in consecutive weekends—at one point dropping four games in a row.

Griffin and head coach Joe Casamento received outside criticism for undertaking such a daunting task. According to sources, Casamento is considering stepping away from his position as coach of the Cadets, but Mancabelli insists Griffin’s move had little to do with football.

“This difficult career decision was truly about family,” said Mancabelli. “After being apart for the last two school years, Griff will be reunited with his family at IMG Academy, where his youngest child, Erin, is an eighth-grader. We wish him well as he moves on to the next chapter.”

Prior to his tenure at St. John’s, Griffin was a vice president at IMG. He could not be reached for comment but posted to Twitter:

“I am so excited to be back with my family @IMGA! I have nothing but love for St. John’s and the amazing student-athletes, coaches and community that have built such a strong ‘culture of excellence’.

DeMatha 4-star LB Jaishawn Barham transfers to St. Frances

Chad Ricardo/NBC Sports Washington

DeMatha 4-star LB Jaishawn Barham transfers to St. Frances

Jaishawn Barham, a 4-star student athlete on 247Sports.com, is leaving DeMatha Catholic and transferring to St. Frances Academy.

Barham, currently ranked as the country’s No. 2 outside linebacker in the class of ‘22, played a significant role for the Stags’ stingy defense in 2019. Despite pitching four shutouts though, DeMatha finished the season 7-4 and was eliminated by St. John’s in the WCAC semifinals.

With the disappointing season likely to lead to another reshuffling of the Stags staff, Barham’s family thought it best they find a new home.

“The reason for leaving is heavily based on the stability and infrastructure [of the program],” said Barham’s dad, Anthony Nelson. “In the two years he’s been at DeMatha, the coaching staff turned over twice and they are still scrambling to find that stability.”

Contrarily, St. Frances has been a model of consistency in recent years. In the last 3 seasons, the Panthers have amassed a record of 34-1. Coach Biff Poggi’s squad has grown into a perennial powerhouse, playing a true national schedule and placing student athletes in positions to earn scholarship opportunities from top-tier universities across the country. The strength of the Panthers’ foundation is one reason Nelson believes Barham will thrive there.

“As a coach and dad -- knowing the potential he has to play at the next level -- my two biggest   targets when selecting a program to transfer to was coaching and competition,” Nelson said. “Personally, I know the position coaches at St. Frances, and I know that the level of competition there will help him reach another level within himself.”

Nelson insists there are no hard feelings toward the Stags, that they have “nothing but love for DeMatha and the opportunities they gave Jaishawn.” He views this as an opportunity for Barham to grow both as a student athlete and a young man.

“In today’s world of sports where the athlete is taking a greater roll in controlling their own destiny -- as a brand and not just a worker -- he will be charged with making critical decisions for himself and his brand,” Nelson said. “This will be a major teaching tool for years to come.”

Barham presently holds 15 scholarship offers, including those from Ohio State, Penn State and Maryland.