For the Charles H. Flowers High School football team, its success is not dependent upon the speedy legs of just one or two star running backs, or even the stud arm of some collegiate-quality quarterback. Instead, the Jaguars have leaned on the experience of their veteran offensive line to simply overpower and out-discipline opponents on their way to a 5-0 record midway through the 2013 season.
In Saturday's 48-0 victory against Oxon Hill (2-3) at Friendly in Fort Washington, it did not matter which running back received the ball. The visiting Flowers' offensive line, which features four seniors and a junior center on its starting unit, helped an assortment of nine Jaguar ball carriers to rush for 348 yards on 39 carries.
It did not matter if coach Mike Mayo called for a dive, sweep, off-tackle or misdirection run, the offensive line worked like a well-oiled machine giving ball-carriers huge gaps to gain consistent chunks of yardage.
Even though quarterback Malik White only dropped back to pass four times, he was well-protected, allowing him time to connect for three completions — two being touchdowns of the 55 and 56 yards.
“I think we got the best line in the county,” said senior running back Jamal Higgs, who finished with 99 rushing yards and three touchdowns on five carries. “They open up the lanes for us and it is easy. We just do the rest.”
What gives Flowers' offensive line an edge is the fact that this group has been together for the better part of the past three seasons. They have also grown comfortable in executing Mayo's game plan.
“They all played last year, and they have worked very hard, and they take a lot of pride in what they do,” Mayo said. “There is nothing like having an experienced group of lineman.”
Led by two 300-pound senior tackles in Dorian Cash and Mikeal Mills, along with two senior guards in John Robinson and Davon Reaves, the strength in the line does not necessarily come from its size, but rather its dedication to perfection during the practice week.
“We don't say that we are big and bad, but we dominate,” Cash said. “We go through it every day during practice. We go through all of our drills and everything just like it is a game-day situation. Every practice we have is a game day for us.”
Although the majority of the offensive line has had the advantage of having years to get to know the offense, junior starting center Emeka Ugweje is in his first season with Flowers and has relied on his fellow lineman to catch him up to speed throughout the summer and practice weeks.
“It was good that he came in, we taught him up,” Cash said. “As you can see, he still gets stuff wrong. We still get on him and make sure he does it right the next play.”
Jaguars' offensive line coach Hameed Sharif said that the group is not only successful because of the starting unit, but the addition of a well-prepared rotation of reserves keeps the line fresh at all times allowing for the maximum push.
The linemen take turns practicing at the different guard and tackle positions during the week. This gets them all comfortable with the nuances of each spot. Coach Sharif said he rotates his lineman in and out of the game when needed. When the backups are in, there is little difference in the offense's ability to execute.
Take senior guard Nigel Moxam for example. He is not on the starting unit, but he was ready when called upon in the fourth quarter serving as the lead blocker for Higgs, who followed Moxam 30 yards to the end zone for the game's final score.
“We really work at getting all the kids ready to play,” Sharif said. “Anytime I can get them on the field, I get them on the field because we don't want to just start over, we just want to reload. That's our motto: reload, reload, and reload.”
C.H. Flowers 48, Oxon Hill 0
at Friendly High School
Flowers (5-0) 21 13 7 7 — 48
Oxon Hill (2-3) 0 0 0 0 — 0
F — Javier Hilton 24 run (Kargbo kick) 6:34
F — Malik White 1 run (Kargbo kick) 0:27
F — Jamal Higgs 32 run (Kargbo kick) 0:13
F — Bentley Ukono 56 pass from Malik White (Kargbo kick failed) 11:42
F — Jamal Higgs 18 run (Kargbo kick) 9:01
F — Patrick Johnson 56 pass from Malik White (Kargbo kick) 8:36
F — Jamal Higgs 30 run (Kargbo kick) 3:50
Flowers — Jamal Higgs 5-99, O'Shai Powers 4-59, Javier Hilton 6-57, Marcel Murray 7-39, Maurice Wright 4-36, Malik White 6-24, Brian Brown 2-18, Martin Kangah 3-11, Deandre Route 2-5.
Oxon Hill — Jeremy Fields 6-44, Anthony Dougherty 3-5, Brian Darby 1-2, Chance Aulbury 1-1.
Flowers — Malik White 3-4-120-2
Oxon Hill — Anthony Dougherty 12-18-76-0
Flowers — Bentley Okono 1-56, Patrick Johnson 1-55, Miguel McIntosh 1-9
Oxon Hill — Jeremy Fields 6-47, T. Gross 5-38, Alonte Anderson 1-7, Tajee Green 1-6, Brian Darby 1-5, Chance Aulbury 1-(-3).