GREENBELT – Antwain Littleton does not call his running style powerful. Instead, the Eleanor Roosevelt High School sophomore running back pointed out that his attributes are overlooked due to the physical nature of his play because of his size.
“I’m more faster than an average big back,” the six-foot, 270-pound runner said. “I’m more elusive (with) my acceleration, than every other big back you know, (I’m) better than theirs.”
Observers cannot help but react to his raw strength that drives Littleton’s sprints, pushing would-be tacklers, and even his own blockers, out of the way for more yards.
“That’s what we want him to do, and that is what we expect him to do,” Head Coach Thomas Green said. “The one good thing about having a Division I (college) player is that it does not have to be perfect for things to work out. And he had times where he ran someone over or made someone miss and did a good job. If he keeps doing that, that will give us a chance.”
Littleton had the breakout game Roosevelt has been waiting for as he rushed for 130 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Combined with a three-interception performance by the defense, the Raiders muscled their way to their third straight victory, defeating DuVal High School 34-0 on Oct. 5.
With Littleton, a transfer from St. John’s College High School, carrying the bulk of the running game, Roosevelt (4-1) was able to bounce back from an early interception by Tigers’ senior defensive back Robert Curtis to get their offense moving.
Running like previous players from Roosevelt’s past teams,’ the sophomore trucked his way off two DuVal tacklers to finish off a 36-yard touchdown run.
Seven Raiders rushed for a combined 206 yards on-the-ground, keeping the offense on the field and converted for first downs with force. Quarterback Jalen Walters, who rushed for 33 yards, snuck in a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal to give Roosevelt a two-score lead.
Meanwhile, DuVal (4-2) could not establish a rhythm offensively thanks to Roosevelt’s defense.
The defensive line sacked quarterback Akil Woods Jr. four times and limited his passing game to four receptions for 64 yards.
Early in the second quarter, Woods’ attempted screen pass was intercepted by a sliding Makail Jackson, setting up Littleton’s second touchdown for the Raiders.
“We couldn’t get a groove going, and it killed us,” Tigers Head Coach Carlos Lockwood said. “We went down early, and our guys need to keep fighting. It’s another learning experience, but we will bounce back but have to learn to close out (drives).”
The Tigers came out at halftime, poised to score on their opening drive. However, those hopes were nullified by senior Canaan Holmes’ 80-yard interception return for Roosevelt’s fourth touchdown.
“We really prepared during the week, studying film on DuVal and went to work today,” Holmes said. “We really work hard in practice and bring intensity every day in practice like it was an in-game situation so we can go get after it.”
DuVal continued to try to move their offense forward through running back DeMaj Smith, leaving him in one drive as the team’s de facto quarterback to use his speed to obtain first downs.
However, the pressure created by the defensive line, powered by seniors James Ballanger and Adrian Lewis, cut through DuVal’s protection and harassed Woods and Smith all night long.
With less than two minutes to go and the game out of reach, Walters provided a parting shot to the visitors, striking a missile pass to senior wide receiver Chris Billings for a 21-yard touchdown. After the final score, both teams exchanged words, forcing coaches to monitor their players during the post-game handshakes.
“It’s not really trash talk, and it’s more of seeing your friend that you played with middle school, but now, you go to different high schools; its chippy but I like it,” Lockwood said.
“But we would never let it get out of hand, and people need to understand that we never let it get out of hand with these guys. We will keep it between the lines but just need to do a better job at facing adversity.”
The win provided Green a sense of relief as Roosevelt looks to obtain a state playoff spot through a nine-game schedule.
Opponents like Dr. Henry Wise, Potomac and Oxon Hill will not make the journey easier but if the offense continues to trend upwards, the Raiders hope to be a threat this postseason, Green said.
“If we improve our passing game a little more, then we will be a deadly team,” Littleton said. “If we do that, state’s will be there for us.”