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Pallotti football heads into conference play unbeaten

Pallotti football heads into conference play unbeaten
Pallotti’s James Patterson, shown breaking a tackle in a game last season, is the top linebacker on the Panthers, who will host John Carroll on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at Fairland Regional Park (File photo/Baltimore Sun)

Ian Thomas, the first-year head coach at St. Vincent Pallotti High, had plenty of off-field duties to attend to before this season began.

Before a preseason practice a parent came to his office in the basement of the school to relay medical information on her son.

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Last week, a student paid a visit to check on equipment for the team's game against Avalon at Fairland Regional Park in west Laurel on Sept. 11.

But possible off-field duties have not kept Thomas distracted from on-field performance.

"It is going well. I stayed focused on the task at hand," said Thomas, a former assistant who replaced Rick Peacock as head coach. "All I can focus on is the team. All of the other things will play in place."

"They are motivated and they go out and play well. That is my number one concern," he added.

Pallotti has won its first three games by a combined 67 points and will play its first league game of the season Friday at 7 p.m. at home against John Carroll at Fairland in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference

The Panthers have been led on defense by junior linebacker James Patterson (6-0, 215), a Division I prospect.

He figures to be very active against John Carroll, which lost, 3-0, to Pallotti last season in a defensive showdown.

Another key defensive player is junior cornerback Cam Sullivan-Brown (6-2, 175 pounds), who was offered a scholarship by the University of Virginia earlier this month, according to Thomas.

Last year, the Panthers won the title in MIAA C Conference by beating Annapolis Area Christian School, 43-14. A photo of the scoreboard at the end of that game hangs in the office of Thomas.

Thomas feels Pallotti and John Carroll could be favorites this year in the B Conference.

"It defensively can be part of a sequel. We may see them possibly in the playoffs or the championship," said Thomas, a resident of New Carrollton and a former standout at DeMatha Catholic High and the University of Illinois. "It is something we are going to be up for."

The Panthers latest win was a 22-20 decision in non-league game over Avalon, a private school in Montgomery County.

Pallotti opened the year with a 46-13 win at Paul VI High in Fairfax, Virginia and then the Panthers dropped Sidwell Friends at home, 40-8.

"The guys have invested so much time and energy and blood, sweat and tears," Thomas said. "We dominated the first two games. We came out and executed. Moving forward we want to do the same thing. "There is always some room for improvement."

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Thomas has used two quarterbacks in the early part of the season but hopes to settle on one signal caller for the contest against John Carroll.

Junior Devin Brogden, who started the first game of the year, has seen time along with sophomore Brandon Stewart. The 6-foot Stewart started against Avalon and is slated to start against John Carroll.

"As a coach it is hard to make that decision. I am trying to do what is best for the team," Thomas said.

The Panthers expect to have sophomore defensive back Andre Patterson back for the game against John Carroll. He played in the first game at Paul VI but was ejected in that game for an illegal block and was suspended for the second and third games of the year.

"I didn't fault him from working hard and protecting his team but we have to play smart," Thomas said.

Another key player, junior lineman Daniel Chaney, has missed time due to an injury but is expected to play against John Carroll.

"The kids coming back will really help us," Thomas said.

Notes: Former Pallotti standout Demitri McCray-Buggs of Burtonsville is a freshman defensive back for Howard University. The Bison host rival Hampton on Sept. 18 at RFK Stadium in Washington a MEAC contest. Jeffrey Butler, a Pallotti grad from Ft. Washington, is a freshman offensive lineman at Morehouse. The West Virginia Wesleyan football roster includes redshirt sophomore defensive back Robert Armstrong (Reservoir) of Laurel and junior defensive lineman Malik Dorsey and freshman fullback Raymond Myers of Fort Meade.

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