An honor roll student and one of the best players on Southwestern's football team, Sabres cornerback-wide receiver-quarterback Jamal Avery is looking forward to this season.
But a gunshot wound to the shoulder suffered Wednesday could hamper his plans.
Noises on his roof, near the pigeons he raises as a hobby, awakened Avery at about 5 a.m. He went to the bedroom window to check it out and was greeted by "about three or four gunshots," said his coach, Gerald Boyd.
"He was treated at a hospital and released later that morning, and he's in really good spirits, though he has some stiffness and some soreness," said Boyd, who expects Avery to return by the third game.
"Here's a good kid who is doing the right thing, being at the right place, but happens to get in the way of a bullet because someone wants to get in the way of something he's worked for. What's helped him is that he's in excellent shape."
Samuel leads by example
Walbrook's second-year coach, Kelvin Bridges, can't say enough about his team's leader, 5-foot-9, 183-pound senior tight end Rodney Samuel.
Samuel, nicknamed "Rock" by teammates, leads by example. When he hustles, so does the rest of the team. When he's vocal, the team responds. And when he lays a ferocious hit on someone, as he did to spark the team in a recent scrimmage, it often takes a little while before that player is able to get back on his feet.
"This guy's a real leader for us, an inspiration to every guy on the team," said Bridges. "This guy worked hard all summer and came to practice ready to play."
This despite having a bullet lodged perilously close to the vertebrae in his neck. Doctors said it was safer to leave the bullet in "because they could damage me, by going in, to the point of paralyzation," Samuel said. "For a while after the incident, I could feel [the bullet], but now I can't because tissue has grown around it, stabilized it."
Samuel was shot while fleeing a free-shooting gunman in his neighborhood early last season. The athlete said he has learned to appreciate life as a result of his brush with death.
"I didn't even know these guys and I'll never underestimate anyone again. And I'll think before I react. And I'll never take anything for granted," Samuel said.
The incident began as an argument with two boys who had been bothering his sister, Samuel said.
"Push came to shove and the shorter one pulled out a gun. I was actually shot in the upper part of my left shoulder, but by running, it traveled up to my neck," Samuel said.
"I just kept running for about two blocks to the fire station," where a rescue unit was summoned and he was rushed to a hospital.
The 5-foot-9, 183-pounder was back in school a week later but missed the last four games of the season.
"It happened right before homecoming, and the team dedicated that game to him and we beat Carver," said Bridges, who hopes to improve on last year's 3-7 record.
White goes to Douglass
David White, former football coach at Lake Clifton, has replaced John Nash as athletic director at Douglass.
White coached the Lakers for nine years and won the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference title at 9-1 in 1991.
Yet he is most proud of the reputation he established with major colleges.
For example, his two best players the previous two years went on to Division I programs: Second-team All-City wide receiver Dennis Harding, a 1994 graduate, is a red-shirt freshman at Boston College. First-team All-City running back Kenny Williams, graduate last spring, is a freshman at Florida A&M.;
"It was great to see Dennis play against Ohio State last weekend, and he actually made a couple of catches," White said.
But at Douglass, White, 52, tackles an immense challenge as its new AD and coach of a football program that is winless over the last two seasons. In going 0-10 last year, the Ducks scored only eight points all season.
"I look at this situation as something that's going to be a challenge, but a task that is not impossible, with the help of God," said White, a physical education teacher in the city for 30 years who also has coached football, girls basketball, wrestling and junior varsity baseball.
The Ducks had only four players at their first practice. But White, ever enthusiastic, said that number had risen to 26 early last week, two days after what he considered a successful scrimmage.
He had 28 players as of Wednesday.
"I was really pleased with our effort in our first organized competition," said White, who has gotten a financial commitment from some alumni toward purchasing needed equipment.