One word kept coming up again and again when members of the Henry A. Wise High School football team were asked to describe the play of the Pumas offensive line this season: Dominant.
“We are just better than everyone else,” senior left tackle Jaiyen Franklin said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it or anything, we are just bigger, stronger and faster.”
Franklin (listed at 6-4, 275 pounds) is joined by Warren Wright (6-3, 300), Silas Smith (5-8, 245), Jalen Perry (6-0, 270) and Antonio Harris (6-4, 310) to make up the front five for Wise. If the Pumas are going to claim their fourth 4A South Region title in the past five years, it will be largely due to the efforts of this offensive line unit.
Franklin, Smith and Harris each started during Wise’s run to the 4A state championship game in 2010, while Wright contributed in 2010 and became entrenched in the starting line-up in 2011. Perry, the sophomore right guard, is the only underclassmen in the starting five.
“We have been able to play Wise football because of them,” coach DaLawn Parrish said. “They get off the ball, we run our feet, they have been very physical and we do what we do. We are fortunate to have four seniors on that group that have been playing for three years. That’s a luxury some teams may not have, so hopefully we are able to keep on grinding and get further [into the playoffs].”
The Pumas racked up 206 rushing yards on 41 attempts against Eleanor Roosevelt in the region semifinals, a 28-7 victory for Wise. Franklin Porter, who contributed 100 yards on 15 carries in the contest, credits the line with making his job easy.
“They dominate other [team’s] defensive lines,” Porter said. “They make it easy for the running backs to hit holes, and score. When you can run through holes that are wide open, come on now, we are going to be through to the second level 5 yards downfield before we even get touched. We just have a great offensive line.”
Having three starters who have experience playing for a Maryland state title will be of great help to this Wise team, but first the Pumas must take care of business against Suitland. The Rams defeated Wise at home in the region semifinals last season, 21-20, and also won the previous meeting in the season opener in 2010.
“We know it is going to be a great football game,” Parrish said. “It was a great football game last year when they knocked us out of the playoffs here. We always have good fights and good wars with them. I’m sure the fans are going to get what they want, it’s going to be a physical bunch versus an air attack. Hopefully we can do what we have been doing.”