The dream continues.
Dunbar’s football team advanced to the state Class 1A semifinals after dismantling Surrattsville 50-6 last Saturday. For these Poets, they’re one step closer to fulfilling yet another dream, and that’s repeating as state champions.
The win over the Hornets gave Dunbar the 1A South title, which is something no other team has won since regional play began in the Maryland state football playoffs.
“All of our hard work has paid off since day one, since summer practice,” said receiver Deontay McManus. “This is one of our dreams. This is one of our championships that we’ve been striving to get.”The seniors that have played for the Poets since their freshman seasons have won four region titles and two state titles, taking home the state championships in 2008 and 2010. But even though they’ve tasted victory plenty times before, it never ceases being sweet.
“This is what we do,” McManus said. “This is a program. Every year this is our goal. We’re not out here just to be playing. We want to win a championship. That’s just another step.”
The Surrattsville game was eerily similar to the previous week’s beatdown of Southside Academy. On Dunbar’s third play from scrimmage, running back JaQuan Holt scampered for a 38-yard touchdown. A 2-point conversion from running back Coleman Blackston put Dunbar ahead 8-0.
Dunbar increased the lead to 14-0 after McManus returned a punt 43 yards for a touchdown with 3:09 left to play in the first quarter.
The Hornets cut Dunbar’s lead to 14-6 early in the second quarter with a short rushing touchdown from Shaquile Guyton-Jackson. From there on, though, the game was a rout.
The Poets answered in less than four minutes with a perfect 32-yard touchdown throw from quarterback William Crest to Aaron Haynes. Crest then found tight end Ernest Hawkins for the 2-point conversion to put the Poets up 22-6.
Surrattsville faced a fourth-and-4 on its next possession and decided to run a fake punt. Dunbar defensive back Ryan Crowder intercepted the pass and took the ball down the Hornets 31 yard line. This helped set up a 16-yard touchdown from Crest to McManus, one that McManus reeled in with just his right hand.
“It’s easy to him,” running back Paki Brown said. “It was a great pass and a great catch.”
The Poets still weren’t finished in the first half, even though they were up 28-6. Cornerback Terrence Williams jumped a curl route and returned an interception 31 yards for a touchdown. This was Williams’ second interception for a touchdown in the past two weeks. Brown ran in the following 2-point conversion to give Dunbar a commanding 36-6 lead heading into the half.
“(The receiver) came and curled up on it,” Williams said. “I broke on it and took it to the house. I’m supposed to make plays.”
The Poets took the foot off the gas in the second half, but still scored two more touchdowns. Blackston ran in a 14-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Carlos Austin ran in an 11-yard touchdown in the fourth.
As it has been all season, it was running-back-by-committee for the Poets. Brown led all ball carriers with eight carries for 52 yards.
“I keep a close relationship with my linemen, to know what their assignments are, so I can make good cuts off of them,” Brown said.
Before the game began, former Dunbar standout Tavon Austin, now a star junior receiver at West Virginia, visited the team for a pep talk. Austin, who owns four state records, gave the Poets some motivation before its region title win.
“He told them the importance of continuing this undefeated streak in this region,” said Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith.
The Poets’ next opponent, Overlea, will be much tougher than the previous teams Dunbar has faced this postseason. The Falcons earned Class 1A’s top seed and hasn’t lost a game this season. Dunbar will travel to Overlea’s stadium for the semifinal showdown on Friday at 7 p.m.
“Everyone wants to see Dunbar-Overlea, so we’re going to give them what they want,” Williams said.
by Jason Butt