Story by Malcolm Johnson
As you'll read in our USA Today High School football preview magazine, set to be released in August, Flowers competes in one of Maryland's most competitive regions -- the 4A South.
Each season, Suitland, Roosevelt, Wise and Flowers are major threats to play at M&T Bank Stadium in early December for the state title. Following a deep playoff run last season, Flowers' promising roster is a reason to believe they can have some similar successes.
Last Seasons Record: 9-4
Biggest Question: The offensive line. It wasn't an issue last year with four seniors spearheading the way. Now, some players from the JV team will be making the transition up against faster and stronger defenders.
Strength: The Jaguars are returning five players on offense, none more important than their skill positions. They'll look to senior wide receivers Keith Payne and Larry Smith in the passing game and senior running back Daquan Davis on the ground. Experience at these positions is key for Flowers; equally spreading the football around will be the challenging part.
Best Player: Larry Smith plays both wide receiver and defensive back but possesses breakaway speed to return kicks and punts to the house for touchdowns. At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Smith excels in gaining yards after the catch and is a competent route runner. He's tremendous at utilizing his blockers on screen passes, plays which can flip momentum Flowers' way. Maryland and Rutgers are two of the top schools looking at the receiver.
Breakthrough Player: The most underrated part about middle linebacker Richard Ukonu is that his blitzing pressure up the middle forces bad throws into coverage. In 2012, Ukonu will be asked to step up in a big way and his coaches expect him to deliver. The 6-foot-1, 220 pound senior has college interest from Delaware, Delaware State, Howard and Hampton.
Why fans should be excited:
Head Coach Michael Mayo on how every game should be competitive because of the balance in the league:
"That's hard to say because ... we have so many big ones in our league. It usually comes close down to the end of the year ... This year because the league is so balanced we've got some tough ones in the beginning and some tough ones in the end because we have some up and coming teams coming up. We played some close games last year so ... pretty much they're all important."