Entering the eighth game of the season, the DuVal High School football team appears to be in good position to secure one of the top seeds in next month’s Class 4A South Region playoffs after narrowly missing postseason field in 2011.
Although unsure how his youthful team would fare this fall — DuVal graduated 22 seniors from a 7-3 squad that missed out on the playoffs to Charles H. Flowers through a tiebreaker — Tigers coach Dameon Powell was cautiously optimistic about the season with the nucleus of the roster being comprised of players who had produced a combined 19-1 record at the junior varsity level the past two seasons.
“What’s helped out is that we had a 10-0 JV season [in 2010] and a 9-1 JV season last year,” Powell said. “The guys have really stepped up and did a good job. It’s kind of fell together. I knew we had a little bit of talent around us, but we didn’t have any experience. We’ve focused on playing more as a team and less like an individual. It’s worked out for us.”
The Tigers received a forfeit victory against Northwestern on Oct. 16 (Northwestern, which used an ineligible player, won on the field 28-10) and enter Saturday’s contest against Eleanor Roosevelt (5-2) with a 7-0 record. That includes a recent 26-6 victory against Suitland (6-1) to place DuVal firmly in contention for one of the four regional playoff spots, which would be its first appearance since 2007.
In fact, a win against Roosevelt — with Laurel (1-6) and Parkdale (0-7) remaining on the schedule — could help DuVal compete for the No. 1 seed with Henry A. Wise (7-0) and host a playoff game. The Tigers currently lead in playoff points, but even if they win the three remaining games may not earn home field advantage. It will come down to bonus points, and if all the favorites win during the final three weeks, Wise would earn home field during the region tournament.
“We came up short last year, but I think we have a real good chance of making the playoff this year,” said Powell, whose team missed out on the fourth and final postseason spot a year ago by a pair of bonus points. “I think we’ll probably clinch it if we win this weekend. We have a real good shot of hosting a game.”
Besides the Suitland victory — the Tigers lost 46-7 to the Rams a year ago — DuVal avenged last year’s 28-0 loss to Baltimore’s Poly with a 36-14 victory in the season opener.
“Actually, going into the season I felt pretty confident,” Tigers middle linebacker Jeremiah Hall said. “We had a lot returning to the team off my JV team; I felt pretty good about how the season was going to go. Going in with this record against Roosevelt, I’m pretty confident about getting a playoff spot.”
DuVal faces a Roosevelt team that’s coming off a 33-14 loss to Flowers (5-2) that broke a three-game win streak, which was preceded by a 39-0 loss to Wise. The Raiders won last year’s game with DuVal, 14-12.
“We have to play DuVal football; what we’ve been doing the last seven weeks,” Powell said. “What makes me nervous about Roosevelt is going against [Raiders coach] Tom [Green] and that coaching staff over there. It’s about making sure my kids are ready to play and are up for the challenge.”
Led by Shamik Perry and Karee Mines the Tigers have a potent ground attack and a stingy defense that’s allowed 11 points per game and no more than 14 points in six of seven games. Four opponents have been limited to less than 10 points.