2004 All-County Football Team Defense: Defense, indeed, wins state championships
by Derek Toney, Ted Black and Terron Hampton
The old adage that defense wins championships is generally accepted by sports fans without question.
But just in case any county high school football observers still had any doubt about that tried and true philosophy, the Potomac and Suitland football teams provided more than a little proof this fall.
The county’s two state champions relied on their defenses when it counted. Suitland held a high-powered Damascus offense to just one touchdown in a 14-7 victory in the state 4A title game.
Potomac, meanwhile, had a defensive season for the history books. Not only did the Wolverines allow a miniscule average of just 2.8 points per game, they held Hereford, the highest-scoring offense in state history, to just 12 points in the state title game, beating the Bulls, 19-12.
Potomac’s defense posted eight shutouts, and Hereford’s 12 points in the title game marked the only time this season that a Wolverines’ opponent scored in double digits.
Hereford had not been held under 28 points all season, and had surpassed the 40-point mark six times.
Here is the Star⁄Gazette 2004 All-County First-Team Defense.
Reggie Berry, Potomac, Sr.: While teammates Gus Parrish and Brandon Jackson caught attention because of their massive size, Berry was a playmaker on the defensive front for the Wolverines. He had 98 tackles and a team-high 14 sacks for the 2A state champions. Akron, Hofstra, Howard, James Madison, Towson and several Southwestern Athletic Conference schools are interested in Berry, who had 38 tackles for a loss and caused four fumbles.
Mark Hall, Suitland, Sr.: Equally strong at playing the run and the pass, Hall was second on the state champion Rams in tackles with 149.
Justin Lawson, Gwynn Park, Sr.: Lawson was one of the primary cogs in a unit that helped the team outscore opponents 134-13 over a six game stretch during the season. Lawson led the team in sacks with nine and posted 86 tackles during his final campaign.
Thomas Claggett, Douglass, Sr.: Claggett helped the Eagles advance to the state semifinals with his play and leadership. The senior finished second on the team in tackles with 83, including 53 solos. Claggett also tied for third on the team in sacks with five and anchored a unit that harassed opposing offenses all season.
Anthony Perkins, DeMatha, Sr.: Headed to Syracuse, Perkins capped his career at DeMatha with another WCAC crown. The 6-5, 287-pounder had 65 tackles and eight sacks for the state’s No. 1 team, using his long arms and massive frame on each side of the line. Perkins was a second-team All-WCAC selection.
Navorro Bowman, Suitland, Jr.: One of the key cogs in a Suitland defense that enabled the Rams to capture their first state title, Bowman was a staunch two-way player. He led the team with 165 tackles and added 12 sacks as a linebacker and rushed for 1,226 yards on 135 carries as one of the three Suitland running backs to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau. Bowman’s biggest defensive play came in the 4A South Region final against Flowers when he stuffed Ramond Dixon in the backfield on a fourth-and-two deep in Suitland territory.
Phillip Higgins, Gwynn Park, Jr.: One of the elite at his position in the county, Higgins posted 134 tackles and four sacks for the Yellow Jackets’ defense, which posted six shutouts this season. Higgins added two blocked punts.
Jerrell Wedge, Douglass, Soph.: In just his second year in high school, Wedge left a lasting impression that should follow him throughout his prep career. The dynamic sophomore led the team in tackles with 125, including 86 solos. Wedge also had three interceptions and a sack.
Rod Pittman, Friendly, Sr.: Pittman completed a stellar high school career, posting 64 solo tackles among his total of 116. He seemed to have a knack for making big plays, as he collected six sacks and added two interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Kenny Jefferson, DeMatha, Sr.: An All-WCAC first-team selection, Jefferson was the Stags’ defensive catalyst this season. He tallied 111 tackles for the two-time defending WCAC champions. Jefferson, who was selected as the Charles Mann⁄Good Samaritan defensive of player of the year, plans to sign with Atlantic Coast Conference champ Virginia Tech in February.
Korey Coles, Potomac, Sr.: Wolverine coach Eric Knight said Coles was his team’s best athlete. A four-year starter in the secondary, Coles had nine interceptions this season and averaged 24.8 yards per catch as a wide receiver. Akron, Howard, James Madison, Mississippi State, North Carolina State and several SWAC schools are interested in the versatile Coles, who also returned punts and kickoffs.
Chris McFarland, Riverdale Baptist, Jr.: In his first season with the Crusaders after transferring from Bishop Ireton, McFarland had an immediate impact. He intercepted seven passes and returned three for touchdowns, including a spectacular 109-yard return against Hyde in the season opener. McFarland also had 62 tackles, forced three fumbles, recovered two fumbles and added three sacks. He caught 15 passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns on offense.
Trevan Bellamy, Roosevelt, Jr.: Despite missing four games with a bruised knee, Bellamy recorded seven interceptions and returned two of them for touchdowns. He also added 72 tackles and forced three fumbles. Bellamy led the county as a sophomore with nine interceptions.
Derrick Marshall, Flowers, Sr.: Marshall stepped forward to lead a capable Jaguar defense. Although he played a defensive back spot, Marshall was his team’s leading tackler, as he accumulated more than 120 for the season to go along with one interception.
Jeff Allen, DeMatha, Sr.: Allen was part of one of the area’s premier defensive backfields this season. He had 37 tackles and three interceptions including one in the WCAC finals against Good Counsel. He also rushed for 1,023 yards and 14 touchdowns and has accepted a scholarship offer from Maryland.
Matt Campbell, DeMatha, Jr.: Campbell joins Eleanor Roosevelt’s Derrick Williams as first-team selections for the second consecutive year. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt, and was 36-of-38 on extra points. Campbell was also a first-team All-WCAC selection this fall.
Linemen: Jarvis Aldridge, Oxon Hill; Patrick Horn and Daveion Palmer, Suitland; Namdi Osia, McNamara; Terrence Trent, Crossland; Allen Whitaker, Forestville.
Linebackers: Harrison Baker, Roosevelt; Walter Blair and Vallice Ford, McNamara; Sam Crossed, Roosevelt; Chris Diggs, Laurel; Jordan Scott, DeMatha; Justin Tillman, Forestville.
Defensive backs: Brandon Burroughs, Parkdale; Carl Chism and Kendric Hawkins, DeMatha; Nate Davis, Suitland; Ramond Dixon, Flowers.
Punter: Jomah Watson, Largo.