UPPER MARLBORO – In an early-season battle of two undefeated teams, the Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School sent a message to anyone looking to take their throne as the best team in the county.
They are back and better than ever.
Displaying a new offensive weapon for the first time in a big-game setting and the defense providing another outstanding performance, the Pumas remained the best of Prince George’s County as they defeated Bowie High School 51-6 on Sept. 27.
The win was a sign of things to come, Head Coach DaLawn Parrish said. Coming into the game against the Bulldogs, Wise outscored their opponents 120-0 as they look to erase the memory of failing to make the state championships last season. In their first drive, the Pumas methodically drove down the field in eight plays, capped off by a 1-yard quarterback sneak for the touchdown.
However, Bowie punched back right away when senior Devan Parrish returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for six points. An attempt to reduce the defense to one point failed but it was a message sent by the Bulldogs.
“This is what I told my kids ‘We are playing the Alabama of Prince George’s County,’” Bowie Head Coach Augustus Parrish said. “They were going to get up for us and we had to get up for them and our preparation was there and our focus was there on the field today.”
With an injury to transfer Jackson Greenleaf, sophomore Jayden Sauray showed his potential throughout the game against Bowie. After moving Wise down the field for a 25-yard field goal, the young quarterback led the offense two drives later down the field quickly, launching a 29-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jalil Farooq to make it 17-6 in the second quarter.
After watching him play with the Wise junior varsity squad last season, DaLawn Parrish moved Sauray to back up on the varsity squad. Because of his youth, Parrish said that Wise’s coaching staff have been monitoring his growth and slowly allowing him more control of the offense.
“(Parrish) trusts me with this team and he trusts with everything,” Sauray said. “I was grateful for him to start me as a sophomore and he lets me be me and trusts me with this team.”
“We need to put less stress on him and allow the game to come to him,” Parrish said. “Sometimes we give him the keys to the car and he gets sporadic out there thinking that he can make every play. But he is growing and will continue to get better.”
Meanwhile, Wise’s defense, built on speed and length, came out aggressive, neutralizing any Bowie rushing attack and forcing the Bulldogs to punt after their first drive. In their second showing on the field, cornerback Dorian Strong jumped in front of the intended receiver for the interception and returned it 20 yards for Wise’s third touchdown before halftime.
The senior quietly had a standout performance on both sides of the ball, contributing three touchdowns, once in each individual unit.
“He has gotten better and better over time,” Parrish said. “He is fast, has long arms, he can catch; there is a lot of things he can do and it is just good to have him on your team.”
Meanwhile, the Pumas suffocated quarterback Rodney Manning, forcing him to throw a second interception while only throwing for 102 passing yards. The Bulldogs’ four rushers all combined ran for negative-9 yards.
Late in the third quarter, Manning was sacked for the second time of the game for a safety and on the ensuing kickoff, Strong ran the return back 60 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Out of their ten drives, Bowie punted the ball four times and never made it to the Wise red zone.
“Bowie fought to the end,” Parrish said. “But our kids applied pressure in all facets of the game.”
Sauray unleashed his throwing capabilities throughout the second half by throwing three of his four touchdown passes during the period including finding running back Joseph Johnson wide open for a 69-yard score. The sophomore finished the game throwing 9 for 13 for 203 yards including a late 22-yard pass to Strong for Wise’s seventh touchdown.
“As I was looking for the ball and when I grabbed it, all I could think was rock-a-bye baby,” Strong said. “But you cannot give me all the credit, we have a great quarterback.”
Moving forward, Wise will look to continue developing Sauray into a complete quarterback by incorporating more mid-range throws in his arsenal. Combined with an unrelenting defense, Wise will look to continue to impose its will on opponents as they aim to reach another state finals berth.
“We can definitely get better on check-downs and getting more easy passes,” Sauray said. “I focus too much on the deep ball and trying it all in one place. If I focus on one play at a time, I feel we will get better and go down the field faster.”