Robert Harris, who coaches football and track at Surrattsville High School, summoned Amaru Major during a track meet last year.
Major typically ran the 100- and 200-meter dashes and anchored the 400- and 800-meter relays, and he’d become comfortable in those events. But Harris asked him to enter the 400-meter dash and drop another race.
“He just got quiet in typical Amaru fashion,” Harris said. “He really didn’t know how to answer. He didn’t want to say no, and he was hesitant and cautious to say yes.”
Eventually, Major said he would if it were best for the team.
Then, Harris revealed he was just testing his athlete, checking how he’d respond rather than planning to change his race schedule.
“I gave him an A for how he handled that,” Harris said.
Now a junior, Major is receiving high marks on the football field, too. He’s averaging 178 yards and two touchdowns per game and has received interest from University of Maryland, College Park, Salisbury University and McDaniel College.
“He can carry this team,” Harris said. “Sometimes, he’s going to be challenged to do that.”
As Harris learned during that track meet, Major typically answers those challenges.
Harris wanted Major to study more football film, and Major has. Harris wants Major to win every wind sprint, and Major often does. The next step is getting Major to be more vocal, and Harris trusts Major to figure that out, too.
Major already has an internal attitude conducive to motivating.
He vividly recalls suiting up for a varsity game his freshman year, a chance to stand on the sideline but not play. He traveled with the varsity team to Woodrow Wilson (D.C.), where the teams played Friday evening on a turf field.
Major thought he was living Friday Night Lights, but Wilson won 20-19.
This season, Major ran for two touchdowns and the game-winning two-point conversion in a 20-19 win over Wilson.
“I had it in my heart that I wasn’t going to lose to them no more,” Major said.
And that was revenge for a game he hadn’t even played in.
Imagine how he feels about Forestville Military Academy (5-0), the opponent Saturday of Surrattsville (5-0). Forestville has won five straight in the series between the two teams atop the 1A North Region.
“Our goal is to work, try to work harder than them,” Major said. “In my mind, we should be — we’re trying to work hard to show that we’re better than them, so when we play against them, it should be a good game, and we try to take that victory.”