Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School head football coach DaLawn Parrish started his coaching career at Lanham’s DuVal High School in 2004.
After spending two years with the Tigers, and finishing the 2005 campaign on a six-game losing streak, the former Wake Forest University defensive back had an opportunity to either return to playing professional football or continue to follow his dream of leading a high school football program to prominence.
Though it was a tough and arduous journey, Parrish became the first head coach for Wise in 2006 and has never looked back. Despite going 2-8 during Wise’s inaugural season, his team improved to 5-5 the following year, and the Pumas haven’t suffered a losing season since.
Wise has created a Prince George’s County dynasty after defeating Quince Orchard High School (Gaithersburg, Md.) 38-20 in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) 4A state championship game on Dec. 1 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis.
“It has been a great day and a great year,” Parrish said after the win. “Everybody stayed together as a team. Everything that we asked them to do, they accepted it. I want to congratulate our team for completing the mission.”
That victory marked the Pumas’ third consecutive title and the fourth championship that the team has secured in total under Parrish’s tutelage. Wise hasn’t lost a game since 2014.
The Pumas outscored their opponents 603-99 including a four-game shutout streak ending with a 75-0 shellacking of Bowie High School on Oct. 7.
Wise crushed its competition throughout the 2017 high school football regular season behind a nearly impenetrable defense and stellar play from a bevy of skill players.
One of those playmakers was senior running back John Oliver, who rushed for 224 yards and three touchdowns against Quince Orchard in last year’s championship game.
“I just used my vision and my speed to get the job done,” Oliver said about his championship performance. “I just have to give a shoutout to my offensive line because without them I wouldn’t have had as many yards.”
Oliver carried the load for 1,444 yards on the ground and piled up 26 total touchdowns, including two kickoff returns for scores.
Senior Anthony Lytton Jr. showed his versatility both as a top-flight receiver and shutdown defensive back last season.
The Florida State University commit hauled in 34 receptions for 523 yards and seven touchdowns while accounting for 26 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles on defense.
In last year’s state championship game, Lytton made back-to-back game-changing plays that put his team in prime position to secure the victory.
With 4:40 remaining in the game, Lytton intercepted a third-down pass and returned it to the Quince Orchard 39-yard line. Then, on first down, the wide receiver took a reverse to the house for a touchdown.
Last but not least, junior quarterback Quinton Williams came into the program in his first year as a starting quarterback after transferring from Our Lady of Good Counsel High School to lead the Pumas to the promised land.
Williams finished the year throwing for 2,015 yards and 27 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also made plays with his legs, rushing for 342 yards and three touchdowns.
Parrish and his squad “completed the mission,” but he understands that the pressure mounts every day to maintain the winning tradition that he has created.
“We have a lot of young players coming back next year, and we try to be better the next year,” Parrish said. “We are just going to keep moving on. I remember when I lost my first title — it was painful and I learned a lesson from that. We just won now, but we are going back to the drawing board again. We are not going to rest on this, and I am planning on striving to be the best, and I know my players are going to.”