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Laurel football strives for consistency

Laurel's Oluwaseyi Sodipo carries the ball up the field during the Spartans' 21-13 loss to Suitland on Oct 3.
Laurel's Oluwaseyi Sodipo carries the ball up the field during the Spartans' 21-13 loss to Suitland on Oct 3. (staff photo by Brian Krista)

After losing to Suitland last week, 21-13, Laurel is eyeing a couple of games in a bid to reach — or perhaps even pass — the .500 mark this season under coach Delbert Hughes.

Still, it won't be an easy path for a team that returned just two starters on defense and one on offense following a 1-9 season in 2013.

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The Spartans (1-4) will try to move up the standings ladder when they host Parkdale on Saturday at 3 p.m. and travel to Bowie a week later for a 2 p.m. encounter with the Bulldogs.

They follow that with road games at Dr. Henry A Wise on Oct. 25 and at Eleanor Roosevelt on Nov. 1 before closing the season at home against Duval on Nov. 8 at 2:30 p.m.

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While Hughes is not doing cartwheels over the results from start of the season, he's not down in the dumps either after a a 28-22 overtime loss to C. H. Flowers, and blowout setbacks to Surrattsville and Northwestern.

Laurel's only win was a 33-0 thumping of High Point.

"We're not doing as well as expected," Hughes said. "But it's not that bad. We're young and improving."

Size, or lack thereof, matters to the Spartans, who have a tendency to "get overpowered at times" by bigger rivals.

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"We have to be more hard-nosed at times," Hughes added.

That description doesn't apply to Laurel seniors Michael Bynoe (5-foot 11, 175 pounds) and Antonoio Holloway, who aren't afraid to lay the leather to opponents from their inside linebacker positions. Junior Brandon Goodwin (6-1, 180) is another key member of the unit.

When classmate Kalu Uche (5-9, 230) returns from injuries, Hughes will welcome back another experienced defensive veteran to the fold.

Uche will mix and match along the defensive line with senior Grant Sowells (6-5, 210) and junior Elijah Korkoyah (5-10, 210).

Senior defensive backs Mike Gibson (6-0, 175) and Devonn Hinkley (5-7, 175) patrol a secondary that Hughes says run "hot and cold" against rival air attacks.

Hughes like what he has seen from senior quarterback Michael Hubbard (6-1, 180), who runs the pro-style offense with a flair usually reserved for more experienced signal-callers.

"He's quite an athlete with a good arm and good speed," Hughes said. "We don't encourage him to run, but if the play breaks down, he will take off. His athleticism just takes over. He's quite an asset to the team."

Hubbard enjoys protection from Holloway, Uche, juniors Jonathan Yau (5-11, 230) and Avery Blizzard (6-1, 210) and sophomore Ben Dragenice (6-2, 195) on the offensive line.

That group is also charged with opening holes for the running backs, senior Keyon Penall (5-10, 175), junior Kollie Sherman (5-6, 160) and sophomore Joseph Howard (6-2, 195).

Senior wideouts Gregg Walker (5-8, 170) and Shane Sodipo (5-11, 175) are Hubbard's most prominent targets in the passing game.

Hughes said his team needs more consistency to get the job done.

"We have a lot of promise if we can maintain our consistency," he said. "We just have to keep building on the positives."

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