A year ago, Rodney Pratcher was preparing for the start of preseason practice for Edmondson High’s boys’ basketball team. He helped the Red Storm to a magical winter campaign including the school’s first Baltimore City championship.
Now, Pratcher has the west Baltimore school thinking championship in football. The Red Storm defeated visiting Northwestern, 34-12, in a Baltimore City Division I league game Thursday afternoon.
Pratcher had three touchdown runs and a touchdown pass for Edmondson (5-2 overall), and junior Lawrence Jackson scored a touchdown. Will Gatling had a touchdown for Northwestern (3-4, 2-3 Division I) and Tray Thompson had an 86-yard kickoff return.
The Red Storm pulled away in the fourth quarter to stay in a first-place tie with Patterson, Dunbar and Poly atop Division I (all 4-1). Edmondson coach Dante Jones was pleased to see his team respond after beating then-No. 13 Poly, 24-12, on the road last weekend.
“When you’re dealing with kids, there’s a lot of intangibles you deal with getting them to focus on the bigger task,” said Jones. “We had to get into a flow and build momentum. The offense started clicking late; the defense has been solid all season. They got the job done.”
Edmondson turned four Northwestern turnovers into touchdowns including Pratcher’s five-yard toss to Kevin Day to start the fourth quarter. Thompson took the ensuing kickoff back to Edmondson’s end zone, bringing the Wildcats to within 20-12. But Pratcher engineered a six-play, 51-yard response with Jackson scoring from four yards out.
“When they [Northwestern] scored, that just motivated us to score,” said Pratcher, who connected on a 25-yard pass to Devon Graham, setting up the Red Storm with a first-and-goal at the Wildcats’ five-yard line. “We came through and started playing.”
Pratcher and Red Storm offense went back after Northwestern after an interception by Joshua Patterson. In three passes, Pratcher advanced Edmondson from its 33 to Northwestern’s 14, before eventually battling his way into the end zone from five yards.
Pratcher played junior varsity football his freshman year, but decided to focus solely on basketball with the varsity football quarterback position handled by Jerry Lovelace (Prarie View A&M). Jones said the Red Storm was struggling at quarterback and Pratcher volunteered to return.
“He’s an athlete. Now, he’s bringing a football IQ,” said Jones. “The more he’s around it, it’s coming back. He’s one of those type of the kids you love to coach. He’ll do whatever you ask him to do.”
Pratcher kept the Red Storm’s opening drive alive with an 18-yard pass on third-and-17 before calling his number for a one-yard score. After an interception by Ronald Hill, Pratcher capped a five-play, 23-yard drive with a 12-yard scamper into corner of the end zone for a 13-0 advantage.
Will Gatling got Northwestern on the board with a two-yard run, seconds before halftime. On the failed two-point conversion, Edmondson’s Keonte Connelly suffered a neck stinger and was taken by ambulance to St. Agnes Hospital for precautionary measures.
Wildcats coach Eric Woodson said turnovers continued to haunt his young team.
“I’m waiting for this team to grow up and mature,” said Woodson, a former assistant and player under Pete Pompey at Edmondson. “They’re [Edmondson] young, but scrappy and fly to the football. They’re not timid.”
Next week, Edmondson has a first-place showdown against Dunbar at Poly’s Lumsden-Scott Stadium.
“They [Dunbar] have a lot of good things going there and we do too,” said Jones, whose team dropped a 6-0 decision last season. “It’s going to be a dog fight.”
CLICK RELATED VIDEOS TAB FOR HIGHLIGHTS AND POST-GAME INTERVIEW
|Edmondson 34, Northwestern 12|
|E-Pratcher 1 run (Ashford kick)|
|E-Pratcher 12 run (kick failed)|
|NW-Gatling 2 run (run failed)|
|E-Day 5 pass from Pratcher (Ashford kick)|
|NW-Thompson 86 kickoff return (pass failed)|
|E-Pratcher 5 run (Ashford kick)|