DuVal High School football senior Karee Mines started to line up at slot receiver — one of several positions he plays — until a teammate grabbed and pulled Mines behind center. Mines took the direct snap and ran six yards down the left sideline, still three yards short of the first down.
“Let me take that!” Mines yelled as he punched his fists downward in front of his legs.
Again, Mines took a direct snap, and again, he was held short of a first down. On fourth-and-one, Mines took yet another direct snap and rushed eight yards for DuVal's second touchdown in the second half's first three minutes.
All game, No. 9 DuVal High School wisely kept the ball in the hands of Mines, who scored four touchdowns to lead a 26-6 upset at No. 3 Suitland High School on Saturday.
DuVal (5-1) is attempting to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007. In the four seasons since, Duval certainly hasn't played poorly — finishing with records of 6-4, 6-4, 5-5 and 7-3 — but the team still went 0-11 against the 4A South's playoff teams those years.
Mines said DuVal would definitely reach the postseason this year, but his coach, wasn't so certain.
“I want to be confident and say 'yeah,' but I'm not going to put that on the record,” DuVal coach Dameon Powell said. “I will say that we're very close.”
Suitland along with Wise, Flowers and Eleanor Roosevelt took the region's four playoff spots each of the last four years, so Suitland coach Ed Shields certainly knows what a playoff team looks like.
“I think this win right here will probably put them in,” Shields said of DuVal.
DuVal's only remaining regular season opponent that entered Saturday with more than one win is Eleanor Roosevelt, which plays DuVal Oct. 20.
For now, DuVal is enjoying its breakthrough victory over Suitland.
“As long as they stick to the game plan and play as a team, we can beat anybody,” Powell said.
Saturday's game plan proved brilliant. After tinkering with the I-formation this season, DuVal returned to its Wildcat scheme with Mines behind center in this iteration that had been a staple in previous seasons.
“This is our offense,” Powell said. “This is what we do.”
Mines ran for 22- , 8- and 5-yard touchdowns, but his most impressive scoring play might have been his 80-yard kick return to open the second half.
As Mines held the ball and waited for his blocks to set up, he noticed his coaches on the sideline yelling “to the house” and pointing down field.
“We know we can score on special teams,” Powell said. “That kid is so electric that, if we block it right, he's going to be gone.”
Suitland fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, setting up Mines' third touchdown. Suddenly, after holding a slim 7-6 halftime advantage, DuVal led 20-6.
In addition to his offensive and special teams duties, Mines, a cornerback on defense, covered Taivon Jacobs, who's committed to Ohio State. Jacobs finished with just three catches for 42 yards.
In addition, DuVal's linebackers — Tyree Holmes, Chinedu Oparaku, Jerimiah Hall and Devonte Suydam — contained Suitland's run game and frequently pressured Suitland quarterback Wesley Wolfork.
Holmes, now a senior, said he made a promise during his freshman year.
“My senior year, we're going to live it up, make the playoffs and make history,” Holmes said. “This is what we did. We made history.”
Mines was also playing for something extra. Earlier in the game, he thought about his uncle, Gregory Mines, who died 12 years ago. Mines couldn't say exactly why he thought about his uncle Saturday, but Mines dedicated his game to him.
The next step for Mines is garnering interest from college coaches, who haven't begun to recruit him.
“He'll be a guy that we can get into school — definitely after this tape,” Powell said.
After games, DuVal players must keep their helmets on until Powell tells his team to remove them. But Saturday, Mines took his off, causing Powell — moments before being drenched with the cooler — to remind Mines of the rule.
“My fault,” Mines said. “I'm just very excited.”
DuVal 26, Suitland 6
DuVal (5-1) 7 0 13 6 — 26
Suitland (5-1) 0 6 0 0 — 6
D — Karee Mines 22 run (Denzel Sesay kick)
S — Anthony Squire 18 run (run failed)
D — Karee Mines 80 kick return (kick failed)
D — Karee Mines 8 run (Denzel Sesay kick)
D — Karee Mines 5 run (kick failed)
DuVal — Karee Mines 13-51; Patrick Nwadjie 3-50; Shamik Perry 15-37; Devon Ellis 3-3; Natio Scales 4-(-7); Terewell Newton 1-1.
Suitland — Anthony Squire 17-29; Taivon Jacobs 2-3; Robert Wigfall 2-2; Brandon Brown 1-(-3); Wesley Wolfork 8-(-31).
DuVal — Natio Scales 0-2-0-0.
Suitland — Wesley Wolfork 11-25-145-0.
Suitland — Akil Washington 4-70; Taivon Jacobs 3-42; Robert Wigfall 1-20; Nicolas Nelson 1-13; Anthony Squire 2-0.