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North Point’s Dickerson was unstoppable in his 8 games

By DALLAS COGLE

Staff writer

No county Athlete of the Year, or Southern Maryland Athletic Conference Most Outstanding Player for that matter, claimed their fall sports most valuable player honors in quite the manner as North Point junior running back Marquel Dickerson.

With 1,130 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on 125 carries — averaging over nine yards per tote — Dickerson has been named the 2012 All-County football Athlete of the Year.

“He’s dynamic,” North Point head coach Ken Lane said to describe Dickerson, who owned the league’s fifth-most rushing yards while tied with the most touchdowns at his position and registered the second-most yards per carry. He was All-SMAC second-team selection. “We’ve had some good [running backs over the years here at North Point], but I think [he’s as good as any of them].”

Garnering the county’s top individual billing in his sport, however, was hardly an automatic deal for Dickerson until the final four weeks of the season.

The fall campaign saw him play in eight games, the least of any of the top 10 rushers in the SMAC. And through his first four games, Dickerson managed 407 yards on 40 carries, which isn’t bad, especially given he was a first down waiting to happen with each handoff.

But averaging just over 100 rushing yards per game during those four contests, which included a pair of outputs the second and third weeks with 56 and 41 yards, respectively, against a pair of non-playoff teams, was hardly earth-shattering for a potential county AOY.

Then arrived the final four weeks of the season, featuring the toughest juncture of North Point’s schedule with three games versus talented playoff opponents.

Despite an agonizing 28-21 loss at McDonough to kick of the difficult string of games, as North Point blew a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter on a series of crazy plays, Dickerson was impressive with 172 yards and a pair of touchdowns — including a 95-yarder — on 23 carries.

Such a demoralizing loss was hardly what North Point needed heading into a Week 8 date as a home underdog versus Washington D.C. powerhouse Friendship Collegiate Academy.

But Dickerson quickly erased any doubts and lingering hangover from the week before at McDonough by taking the first play from scrimmage for a 79-yard touchdown against the usual stiff Friendship defense.

In one explosive Dickerson scamper, Friendship had given up more points than what its defense had averaged yielding in six previous games on the year at five points per contest.

Dickerson went on to rack up 282 yards on the ground with three touchdowns on 34 carries in leading North Point to a 27-18 upset of previously perfect Friendship.

That Friendship team went on to win the inaugural D.C. Statewide Athletic Association title game.

A Week 9 blowout of one-win La Plata in 59-7 fashion saw Dickerson get limited action given the lopsided nature of the affair. Still, on seven rushes, he amassed 77 yards and three touchdowns.

Though North Point was eliminated from the Class 4A East Regin playoffs — for the first time in five years — before its Week 10 regular season finale against archrival Westlake, Dickerson performed as if everything was on the line. He produced another eye-popping display with 194 yards and three more touchdowns on just 16 carries in a gratifying 34-19 win.

Against another formidable defense — as Westlake was third in the SMAC right behind McDonough in points allowed per game with North Point leading the way in that category — Dickerson had his way again with the home run rush, boasting touchdown runs of 67 and 61 yards in his Week 10 performance.

In the final five weeks of the season Dickerson tallied three touchdowns in each of those games.

His other two touchdowns occurred in a Week 1 win over Leonardtown that saw Dickerson motor for 205 yards on just 10 carries, including an 85-yard score.

“He’s strong, he’s got some balance with him. And he’s got that breakaway speed when he gets to it,” Lane described of Dickerson, whose best skill might be his patience in waiting for his blocks to set up before hitting the right hole.

Dickerson’s attitude toward his craft and his team may be even more impressive than his game-breaking talent.

“Our juniors are actually ready to come back out here and practice. We’re ready [to focus on next year],” he said after North Point narrowly missed the playoffs with a 7-3 record. “We’re going to hit the weight room and do what we’ve got to do — work with our trainers — to come out strong. So we can go to states next year.”

Dickerson felt his team would have been a state contender this season had it made the playoffs this year, as North Point was playing as good down the stretch as any team in the SMAC, including 3A state runner-up Huntingtown. Dickerson was a major reason for North Point’s surge.

He was unable to play in North Point’s back-to-back losses to Patuxent and Huntingtown in Weeks 4 and 5.

dcogle@somdnews.com