When the Wise Pumas were last seen leaving a football field, it was to the tune of bitter 6-0 defeat at the hands of Urbana High School in the Maryland 4A State Final last December.

But since their last outing, head coach DaLawn Parrish has been steadily working over the summer to restore the confidence in the Upper Marlboro, Md. high school for another championship chase. And that confidence was evident as Wise disposed of Baltimore County’s Franklin High School 30-7 as part of the I-95 Kickoff Classic at Morgan State University on Sept. 2.

The Pumas stormed through the 2010 regular season courtesy of an airtight defense and a power running game. Judging by their dismantling of Franklin, the two principles will be strongly enforced again for another season.

Behind senior running back Uriah Bethea’s 160 rushing yards, Wise opened up a 30-0 fourth quarter lead before Franklin finally cracked the scoring column with a late touchdown on a 42-yard touchdown pass. Bethea, who has committed to James Madison University, scored two touchdowns in the rout and would’ve had three if not for an illegal blocking penalty on the first snap for the Pumas which negated a 46-yard score by the running back.

Franklin, who finished last season as the Maryland 3A runner ups, just couldn’t get anything going against a very physical and fast Pumas defense, which held Franklin to just 234 total yards.

“It was a matchup between a power running game and a finesse team,” Parrish said. “Our defense is very good and we pride ourselves on making teams one dimensional and if we do that we feel like we have a chance to beat you every time.”

This is the first year that Wise, ranked No. 12 by the Washington Post, was invited to play in the two-year-old I-95 Kickoff Classic, which has pitted Baltimore high Schools against teams from the Washington, D.C. area.

Last year’s turnout drew rave reviews and it appears this season’s will inherit another positive reception. The crowd for the Wise/Franklin game was plentiful and the atmosphere was positive.

“It was an excellent atmosphere,” Parrish said. “I think the organization did a great job running it. We were treated very well. It was an exciting game, cross-town rivals, and I think it’s going to be very successful and we were proud and happy to be a part of that and represent our conference.”


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO