NO. 10 DENBIGH PATRIOTS
COACH: Marcellus Harris III (fifth season, 13-27).
2011: 0-10, 0-9 (10th)
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 1992.
LAST WINNING SEASON: 2006
TOP RETURNEES: QB/DB Terrence Dingle (5-11/168/Jr.), RB/DB Darius Banks (5-10/150/Jr.), OL/LB Rashad Pressey (5-11/238/Jr.), OL/LB Patrick Prosser (6-0/205/Jr.), OL/DL Marcus Destin (5-8/323/Sr.), WR/DB Tyrik Burns (5-10/145/Jr.), OL/DL DeMarco Brown-Negron (5-11/303/So.), DL Jamison Webb (5-10/305/So.), WR Jaquan Jenkins (5-8/134/Jr.), RB/LB Donovan Scales (5-6/182/Sr.).
2011 STATISTICAL RANKINGS:
10.9 (8th)….……..PPG…...…...…….40.6 (10th)
59.0 (10th)……… Rushing…………..251.8 (10th)
159.8 (2nd)……... Passing………......108.6 (9th)
218.8 (7th)……….Total……………..360.4 (10th)
Aug. 30: Booker T. Washington (L, 60-20), 5
Sept. 7: at Kecoughtan (L, 40-21), 7
Sept. 14: Menchville (L, 16-12), 7
Sept. 22: at Bethel (L, 49-20), 2
Sept. 27: at Hampton (L, 55-8), 7
Oct. 5: Warwick (L, 55-0), 7
Oct. 11: at Phoebus (L, 50-8), 7
Oct. 20: Gloucester (L, 15-12), 1
Oct. 26: Woodside (L, 39-0), 7
Nov. 2: at Heritage (L, 38-6), 7
(last season’s results in parentheses)
Since coming to Denbigh in 2008, Harris has emphasized the spread offense and pass-first mentality. The Patriots were second to Bethel with 160 yards per game in the air but had no running game to balance that out. With the loss of five wideouts who caught a combined 121 passes for 1,442 yards in 2011, the Patriots will have to at least try to run the ball this season. It won’t be easy: The top returning rusher is the quarterback, Dingle (85 yards on 42 carries). Harris hopes Patrick Alston (5-8/155/Jr.), up from the JV team, and Banks can provide a nice punch, though the latter has a hamstring injury. Up front, Harris started 10 different combinations in 10 games. With Prosser and Brown-Negron leading the way, the coach is hoping for more continuity this fall.
It was a bad sign last year when the Patriots gave up 100 points in their first two games (60 to Booker T. Washington, 40 to Kecoughtan). Six of their remaining eight opponents scored at least 38 points. To put it bluntly, there weren’t many teams Denbigh could stop last season. The Patriots won’t turn into Alabama overnight, but Harris is hopeful they’ll be more effective in the 4-3 than they were in the 3-4. Webb and Destin bring some size to a line that needs to get better against the run. Pressey, Prosser and Scales have good size and athleticism at linebacker. The secondary will be Derek Melton (5-9/163/Jr.), Banks, Alston and Jenkins. The defense could use some help from the offense, which too often last year went three-and-out while taking 30 seconds off the clock.
THE COACH SAYS
“One of the things we had to work on was the offensive line, where we were always subbing in and out for various reasons. We’re more comfortable with line. … We’ll still spread it out a bit (offensively), but we’ve definitely worked more on the running game in training camp to get that going. … We have a whole new receiving group. … (Dingle) has been around it seems like forever, and he knows the offense extremely well. He’ll be our leader, and we’ll go as far as he takes us. … (Switching to the 4-3) fits who we have. It gets some more bigger guys on football field to help with gap control. … Last year on defense, of our front seven, five had never played varsity football before. This year we have more experience. … We let a couple of games slip away that we could have won. This year, we need to take the opportunities we have and not leave anything up to chance. We don’t like being branded the team that can’t win.”
You know the old saying about teams coming off a winless season: There’s nowhere to go but up. Whether Denbigh can go there is uncertain. Harris comes into the season with a curious roster that includes only six seniors. And since passing is what the Patriots do best, losing their top five wideouts has to sound an alarm. The best way for Denbigh to improve is by placing more emphasis on the running game, which averaged 59 yards a game in 2011. If the Patriots can do that, it’ll help the passing game and, most importantly, the defense. The last time Denbigh finished 0-10 was in 2003. A year later, the Patriots went 5-5. Few expect an improvement that dramatic, but winning a couple would be a step forward.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun