The Rocky River High secondary calls itself the “Prime-Time Players.”The nickname, used by senior safety Lamar Hood, senior cornerback Cordell Forrest, junior cornerback Jaire Alexander and junior safety Darin Washington, is a reference to NFL Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders.“It also brings a certain swagger, the way we carry ourselves,” Alexander said. “Knowing the name derives from Deion Sanders and he was a great athlete, worked really hard, and we just want to follow that footsteps.”The defensive backs are part of a defense that has helped Rocky River football get off to its best start in the school’s four-year history. The Ravens entered the Oct. 4 game against Garinger at 5-1 and on a five-game win streak, a first for the program.The Ravens won seven games last year and lost in the first round of the state playoffs. They won three games the previous year and none the first season in 2010. “Right now, defensively we’re playing pretty well,” said head coach Jason Fowler, who has been at the school since it opened. “At the beginning of the year, offense wasn’t playing too well. Defense and special teams carried us.”The “Prime-Time Players” name came about last season, with Hood, Washington and then seniors Sidney Lawson and Naquan Evans in the secondary. Forrest joined the group this year after playing wide receiver for three years. Alexander transferred from West Charlotte before the season. The players call defensive backs coach Willie Crite the CEO.Hood (5-foot-9, 165 pounds) is a two-time all-conference selection and the veteran leader of the group. He’s played cornerback and safety for the Ravens and occasionally lined up at linebacker. He has 37 tackles, an interception, five passes broken up, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries in six games.Washington (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) is second on the team in tackles with 40, behind senior linebacker Danny Dunning’s 58. Forrest also has an interception and three passes broken up in six games. He’s hoping to play a full season this year after missing time with a broken finger his freshman year and a dislocated shoulder and concussion his sophomore year.Forrest (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) has 19 tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and six pass break ups through six games this season.“Cordell’s just that steady guy,” Fowler said. “I mean, you know, people try to throw at him, throw at him, throw at him and he just continues to make plays.” Alexander (5-foot-10, 165 pounds) has 21 tackles, two forced fumbles, an interception and six pass breakups this season. His teammates say he’s one of the quickest players on the team, if not the county.The four are a unit with “great balance,” Forrest said. And they support each other.“When I get an interception or when he gets an interception, we all (say) ‘Good job, that’s a prime-time play right there,’” Hood said. “It’s not just one of us, it’s all four of us. We’re a family.”The Ravens opened the season with a 37-13 loss at Richmond Senior, a winning program with a proud tradition. “That’s why we scheduled them,” Fowler said. “We’re so young in our existence and our program, I wanted our kids to see what a true football program is, you know, that’s got tradition.” The game also showed the Ravens where they needed to improve.“It made us focus on what we need to work on, our strengths and our weaknesses,” Alexander said. “Even at pregame we focus more, we get more focused now. We know what to do to win and that’s what we’re coming out here to do.”In the five wins since the Richmond game, the Ravens haven’t given up more than 20 points in a game. The defense shut out Marvin Ridge and held Gastonia Hunter Huss to 17. Myers Park scored just 14 points against Rocky River in the Ravens’ first win over the Mustangs Sept. 27.“Coach said if the offense can score 21 points in a game, we know that’s a win,” Alexander said.The players – especially the two seniors who have been in the program all four years, Hood and Forrest – have high expectations for the season. They want to improve on last year’s first-round playoff loss. “They’ve grown up in the program,” Fowler said. “This is our first class from freshman to seniors that we’ve ever had so they don’t know anything but us. We really feel like we’ve done a good job of pushing the program and the expectations and the vision of where we want to go.”
Friday, Oct. 04, 2013
“Prime-Time Players” lead Rocky River football to 5-1 start
Inscoe: 704-358-5923; Twitter: @CoreyInscoe
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