SUITLAND – After a three-year hiatus, the Suitland High School football team made their first state playoff appearance last season.
This season, with a committee of running backs leading the way, the Rams are ready to expand their success and prove doubters wrong.
Last season, Suitland (8-3) flew through opponents behind senior running back Antwan Squire. The five-foot-nine runner compiled 1,957 yards and scored 14 total touchdowns, leading to his commitment to Shepherd University.
With the tailback gone, Head Coach Ed Shields will lean more on the remaining veterans as well as the incoming young talent to mold a Rams team to top last year’s success. Suitland will have five returning players on both sides of the ball for the 2018 season.
“This is going to be a team that is going to try to find its identity and try to find ways to be successful,” Suitland head coach Ed Shields said. “They aren’t very big but they find other ways to still move the ball and play defense so we’ll see how the season goes but we are gonna run the ball and the do the best we can.”
The Rams will focus on the run this year with a team of running backs, lead by seniors Armani Wooden, Christian Sloan and junior Malique Perry. Despite the limited playing time behind Squire last year, the three rushers were effective and important to Suitland’s run game last year, accumulating a combined 536 yards.
After a year sitting as the team’s third option as running back, Wooden will have a chance to have more consistent playing time this year. According to Shields, the six-foot, 209-pound running back already has an offer from Fairmont State and “will have a few more before this season is over.”
With the expansive list of names in the running attack combined with the experience of the offensive line, which includes two-way athlete Terrence Helm Jr. and senior guard William Valentine, there is a positive vibe in how far the Rams can go this season.
“I think we are gonna be real good, shout out to the o-line because we are gonna go to state. We are ready to go and we are gonna go.” said Perry.
Meanwhile, the defense will be shouldering the majority of the new players on the roster and already showing promise, according to Helm. The youth will have huge shoes to fill after the Ram defense had 14 interceptions, 13 fumble recoveries and three blocked punts last season.
However, Shields said a few players have stood out this offseason, offensively and defensively, while their work ethic has had a positive effect on their veteran teammates.
“It’s going be some good bump (in practices) and we have a lot of new people coming up,” Helm said. “And we are going to rock out this season.”
Hopefully, the positive vibes stay with Suitland and lead them to success this season. The Rams will have their first test as they take on Thomas S. Wootton on Sept. 1.