By Mark F. Gray, Staff Writer, [email protected]
For this year’s Dr. Henry A. Wise High School Pumas, who are contenders playing for another Maryland 4A State Championship on Dec. 6, a tweet posted on their social media account sums up the understated mission which has personified the season.
“‘The loudest person in the room, is the weakest person in the room.
-Frank Lucas #CompleteTheMission,’” the tweet stated.
This cryptic message speaks volumes about how they have approached the season without the burden of box office expectations that have earned them a show business reputation amongst their peers in Prince George’s County. However, despite a central casting look with talented athletes who have star quality, they have grinded their way to an undefeated season hanging their hats on a defense that has been impenetrable.
“You can’t dwell on your success,” Wise head coach DaLawn Parrish said in an exclusive interview. “Week after week we don’t worry about what other people are saying; we just focus on getting better each game.”
Coming into the season the expectations were tempered by the 31-6 loss to Quince Orchard in the 2018 semifinals, led by current Howard quarterback Quinton Williams. Wise is undefeated, but has been conspicuously under the radar despite the eyes of the state being upon them once again. After dismantling Old Mill 44-0 in the state semifinals, the elite Prince George’s County program’s defense is speaking louder than anyone for them.
The Pumas have outscored their opposition 124-12 during the playoffs, but they have been constructed on the principles of old school football. Last week’s shoutout was their seventh of the season and Parrish’s unit seems to be peaking at the right time.
“The old adage still holds true,” Parrish added. “Offense sells tickets, but it’s the defense that wins championships. We’ve been playing with a laser-like focus on that side of the ball since the playoffs started. It might have something to do with how last year ended.”
Parrish has built a program in Upper Marlboro where accountability starts in the locker room and leadership stands out on the field. There has been a culture established by generational talent that has left a tradition for excellence that continues with each graduating class. The coach said he has coached “24 sets of brothers” which has added to their consistency. Senior linebacker Tracey White is the extension of the coach while serving on the field.
“He is my eyes and ears on the field,” Parrish said. “I can communicate what we’re trying to do to him and he will get the other players to line up and buy in.”
Wise is playing in the state finals for the seventh time in 10 years and is looking for their fifth title. They won state titles in 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017 and lost in the 2009 and 2010 championship games. The Pumas meet Northwest for the Class 4A title game at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Northwest upset previously unbeaten Quince Orchard 22-13 in the semifinals, which ended the hopes that two undefeated teams would meet for the crown in Annapolis.