Upper Marlboro’s Henry A. Wise Pumas and the Charles Herbert Flowers Jaguars know all about each other—call it familiarity. The Pumas snuck a 30-12 win over the Jaguars last week on their home turf, a game in which members of the Flowers football team promised they would avenge their loss on Nov. 13 in the Prince George’s County 4A South Region semifinal game. Apparently the Jaguars weren’t as familiar with Wise as the Pumas were with them. In front of an adoring home crowd, Wise forced seven turnovers and handled Flowers 40-12 to earn their 10th consecutive win and advance to their third straight region final, where they will host Eleanor Roosevelt on Nov 20.

The Pumas (10-1) made light work of the Jaguars (8-3), jumping to a 24-6 halftime lead behind a 70-yard interception return and three Uriah Bethea two-point conversion runs. Bethea ran for 108 yards on the afternoon but while the Pumas’ star running back was his usual self, it was the play of his teammate Rayshaud Shields and the rest of the Wise defense that earned the game hats for the day. Shields returned two interceptions for touchdowns and recovered a fumble, halting two promising drives for the Jaguars and sending the Wise crowd into a celebratory frenzy with each takeaway.

Facing a team twice in two weeks isn’t supposed to yield the kind of results that the Pumas handed to the Jaguars but maybe familiarity does play a role. In two games, Wise has outscored Flowers 70-24, intercepted Jaguars quarterback Thomas Lawrence six times and forced 11 total turnovers. When asked if he was surprised by the dominance in consecutive weeks, Pumas head coach DeLawn Parrish admitted: “He wanted it to happen.”

“We were very confident today,” Parrish said. “It’s hard to beat a team twice and definitely hard to beat a team twice back-to-back. But we felt like our young men understood the adjustments that we wanted to make. We added a few wrinkles that we thought we could get through today the kids responded.”
Wise Whips Flowers 40-12, Jags’ Coach Explains

The Pumas will finally get a chance to turn their sights to a different but still familiar opponent: Greenbelt’s Roosevelt Raiders, a team they barely dodged 22-14 in late September. The Pumas should still be soaring after demolishing Flowers but the Raiders just finished a two-peat of their own, beating a Suitland team twice on the road that was undefeated until last week, when they played Roosevelt. The Raiders knocked off Greenbelt’s Suitland again 20-14 on Saturday and will arrive to next week’s region final with their starting quarterback, Shawn Petty, back in the mix after the senior missed the latter part of the season with a broken collarbone. But regardless of the opponent or the players, Wise has made one thing clear: they’ll be ready.


Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO