Samuels, Frankford run over GW

AARON CARTER/STAFF Damion Samuels (holds title plaque) with Frankford teammates.
AARON CARTER/STAFF Damion Samuels (holds title plaque) with Frankford teammates. ((holds title plaque) with Frankford teammates.)
Posted: November 12, 2013

WITH A NICKNAME like "Jawzy," you know Frankford High senior Damion Samuels Jr. is seldom at a loss for words.

So, just before Frankford faced George Washington for the Public League AAAA title, the floor was his.

"How do you want to be remembered?" asked the 5-9, 173-pound running back of his teammates. "As a team that won it back-to-back? Or, a team that made it, but went home with our heads down?"

The Pioneers took heed and toppled Washington, 30-3, Saturday at Charles Martin Memorial Field, which sets up a meeting with Catholic League AAAA champion St. Joseph's Prep for the city championship.

"Emotions were going through me and tears were coming down my face," Samuels said of his pregame speech. "This is it . . . For a lot of us this will be our last time playing football."

That's unlikely for Samuels, who says he already has a scholarship offer in the bank. But for the young man whose first love was basketball, keeping his high school football career alive with another championship ain't half bad.

The Pioneers' ground game bludgeoned the Eagles for 220 yards, while the defense bogarted the backfield much of the night.

Samuels finished with 111 yards and two scores on just 10 carries (11.1 per attempt).

In truth, his nickname comes from the protruding jaw he sported as a child because of the steroids he took due to asthma.

His grandmother, Pamela Sheed, gave him the moniker that his personality later cemented.

"I've always been like that since I was a kid," he said. "I feel like it's just something I have. Just natural-born leadership ability."

Those skills were in demand when the season began. Samuels said team chemistry was weak in August, but individuals eventually put beefs aside for a common goal.

However, after knocking off Washington, 30-16, for the AAAA title last season, and handling the Eagles, 33-14, again in the regular season, the Pioneers peeked ahead to the city title.

"This was probably one of our worst weeks of practice," Samuels said. "We blew Washington out before so we were just thinking it would happen again. But, Washington came out with intensity that we didn't have."

Akinyeli "Ken" Everage found modest success early and secured enough ground for Chris Schlegel to poke a 24-yard field goal (though it was tipped), which made it 8-3 Frankford.

That score held until halftime, but in half No. 2 the Pioneers' gang "green" defense spared the scoreboard further wattage.

In the playoffs under coach Ron Cohen, Washington has been shut out just once (12-0 by Frankford in the '03 Pub final), and yesterday marked the only other time the Eagles went without a TD.

After Samuels popped a 68-yard TD run to open the third, sophomore Shareef Miller started Washington's next possession with a sack. Then, senior Marquis Poston added an interception on fourth down that cued a familiar chorus.

"Fraaaankford! Fraaaankford! Fraaaankford!"

When Samuels moved to Jacksonville, Fla., in the second grade, the basketball-obsessed youngster was drawn to football because the south sang a much different tune.

"I was talking about Allen Iverson," he said, "and they were talking about Tim Tebow. That's where I got the love for football."

He says he parlayed that passion into a scholarship offer from UMass, though he is still courting suitors.

For now, it's time to celebrate. Not just the win, but also a belated birthday gift. Samuels turned 18 on Nov. 6.

"A nice little birthday gift for me," he said with a pause and a smile. "A nice little birthday gift."

A crown for the Kings

For Martin Luther King senior Jordan Alexander the wait is over. The Cougars stymied Mastery North, 32-7, on Saturday for the Public League AAA championship.

"It feels so great," said the 6-1, 220-pound linebacker, who started his career at now-closed Germantown. "Three years in the waiting and it's finally time."

King senior QB Joseph Walker had himself a day: two touchdowns and 108 yards on the ground along with 166 yards and another TD in the air. However, the King defense stole the show. Minus an 80-yard TD pass from Mastery's Donovan Crabbe to Nasirr Mayo on the second play from scrimmage, Alexander and Co. were lights out.

Alexander, who is receiving college interest from Temple and Delaware State among others, added an interception. So too did fellow senior Delane Hart, who also had 106 yards and a score on three receptions.

A city title game with Catholic League AAA champ Archbishop Wood, who beat Bonner-Prendergast, 42-6, provides another chance for Alexander to lead the team's rallying cry.

"Who the Kings? We the Kings!" the volley goes. "It gets no sweeter now that I'm a Cougar," Alexander said.

On Twitter: @AcecarterDN

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