Springdale, Md.-based Charles Herbert Flowers High School Head Coach Dameon Powell took over a team that only won four games in 2015. However, he got everyone to buy into his system quickly and led the Jaguars to the playoffs the following season in his first year.
He knew it wasn’t going to be an easy task to rebuild a fledgling varsity football team, but with the help of a veteran coaching staff, Powell created a winning culture that is getting stronger. The same coaching staff helped guide the Jaguars junior varsity squad to an undefeated record a year ago, and the majority of those players have been called up to play varsity football now.
Julius Duvall, a junior at Flowers High School, will be the Jaguars new starting quarterback. (Photo by Daniel Kucin)
“We have a lot of talent, so we knew that they were the future,” Powell said of developing his younger players into varsity student-athletes. “Now they are on varsity, and they understand how to win, and I think that is going to make us successful this year.”
Coming into the 2017 high school football campaign, Powell will have a new starting quarterback leading the charge. Flowers junior Julius Duvall will be under center after losing former starting signal caller Russell Gantt Jr. to graduation. Gantt Jr. helped lead the Jaguars to a 6-4 regular season record before losing to Eleanor Roosevelt in the first round of the postseason.
Duvall only played in four games behind the senior last season, but he said he will take that experience and improve upon it to develop into a leader that will make a difference moving forward. “I feel like the coaches are giving us the right blueprint for us to go to the state championship game this year,” Duvall said. “Adversity might hit us sometimes, but we know that we can get through it and when it comes down to crunch time our brothers are going to have each other’s back, and we are going to get the win.”
Duvall won’t be doing it alone though. He will be assisted by fellow running back Mekhi Williams, keeping the opposing team’s defense honest. Williams accounted for 871 yards, and 10 touchdowns on 143 attempts while averaging over six yards per carry in during his sophomore year in 2016.
Flowers is still stout defensively, but the team will surely miss losing the leadership of former middle linebacker DeLanie Walker who averaged over six tackles per game and will play for Navy this year.
Powell is looking for Jamree Kromah to make a huge impact on the defensive line this year. The six-foot-four, 315-pound lineman rips through double teams at will. His strength is evident as he can lift his entire body weight and recorded a deadlift of 515 pounds during the offseason while gaining 40 pounds of muscle.
“I feel very comfortable on the team this year, and everybody is on the same page and is looking to achieve the same goal,” Kromah said. “We are working hard to get better, and I’m looking to leave my senior year with a bang.
“When other teams look at the film, they are going to see me as a dominant player. If everyone is on the same page, hustles and plays hard on every down then we can do special things this year and shock the world.”
With a successful first year of play under his belt, Powell is excited to travel on the road to play Patterson High School in Baltimore, Md. on Sept. 1 to start the regular season. Patterson only won three games last season, but the Jaguars will not take them lightly. Flowers won’t play a home game until Sept. 16 when they will take on 4A rival Eleanor Roosevelt who bested them twice last year.
“Our expectation every year is to win games,” Powell said. “We are very talented across the board, and I think we took a lot of time this offseason to fix the little things. We want to execute and be efficient at what we are doing. We are doing a lot of great things here at Flowers, and the players are buying in, so I expect us to have a very good season.”