SPRINGDALE – Former DuVal Head Coach Dameon Powell left a legacy at the Lanham-based school as one of its greatest football coaches of all time. During his 13-year stint with the team, Powell never suffered a losing season, including a 9-2 mark last year. Now, he is committed to bringing that same tenacity and style […]
SPRINGDALE – Former DuVal Head Coach Dameon Powell left a legacy at the Lanham-based school as one of its greatest football coaches of all time.
During his 13-year stint with the team, Powell never suffered a losing season, including a 9-2 mark last year. Now, he is committed to bringing that same tenacity and style of play to Charles H. Flowers this year, with his decorated coaching staff coming along for the ride.
Wearing green and black is quite the transition for Powell, but since joining the Jaguars, Powell has already won a junior varsity 7-on-7 tournament during the offseason. Stepping in as the new head coach, Powell will take the reins from former Super Bowl champion linebacker Cato June, who only managed four wins last season.
“These guys have to learn how to win games and these guys have to learn from ground zero,” Powell said. “It has been a really smooth transition coming over here and I have a bunch of my coaching staff that came with me.
“It is just about changing these kids’ mindset and the culture. It has happened really quickly, but they have to learn how to win. We are facing some obstacles, but they are starting to grasp it with ease.”
Despite what the Jaguars’ previous record resembles, Flowers has 12 returning players with a unified goal of winning a state championship. One of their key players who will set the tone and give this squad a strong defensive identity is rising senior linebacker DeLani Carter. Carter was a run-stuffing defender in the box a year ago and accounted for 57 tackles and three forced fumbles. Carter has received interest from the United States Naval Academy, where he hopes to play football for their program in due time.
“Our coaches are preparing us this year to find a way to win no matter what,” Carter said. “I feel like I could definitely help this defense and organization with its strategy and help us to stay together to get on the right page.
“From day one we have been saying state championship, and I think we have a good enough team and coaching staff to get us there. I’m really looking forward to what we can do this year.”
Starting quarterback Russell Gantt, Jr. will bring senior leadership to the team as well after having the experience of taking snaps under center last season. Gantt, Jr. acclimated himself to the system by splitting time in nine games with former senior quarterback Brian Brown, Jr. The 6-foot-4 playmaker threw for 638 yards and five touchdowns a season ago.
“It is a different type of offense and they want us to move fast and just win,” Gantt, Jr. said. “It is a different attitude this year. Last year we didn’t want it more, but we are ready to go now.
“Every team will test you because every team wants to win like we want to win, so at the end of the day the best team is going to win. We are going to work hard and try our best to make that happen. I try my best to lead this team so when I’m gone and I graduate, they have to know that they have to be a leader like me to help their team win.”
As fate would have it, Powell and the Jaguars will face one of their toughest tests against DuVal on Sept. 3 in the first game of the season. Already natural rivals, the acquisition of Powell and his coaching staff from DuVal should make the contest an emotional one. It is a can’t miss game to kick off the 2016 4A division high school football campaign.
“The biggest challenge for us will be week one, and we have just to give it our best,” Powell said. “We feel like whatever team is in front of us, we can coach them up and win.
“We were 4-6 on paper last year, but I feel like if these guys buy in and work hard, it will be enough that we will be competing and getting into the playoffs. Our program is really changing for the better.”