When asked about his team’s aggressive approach Friday afternoon against W.E.B. DuBois, Southside Academy football coach Frank Brown said it was indicative of how he wants his program to be viewed.

“I’m tired of being the minnow, I want to be the shark,” Brown said. “I want to be on the levels with the Dunbars, the Pattersons, the Edmondson, the Citys, the Polys, and neither one of them are minnows.”

The Jaguars will be in the same pool with some of those teams representing Baltimore City in the state tournament. Southside secured its spot with a 26-22 victory over DuBois in a city league Division II regular season finale.

Senior quarterback Marcus Nickens accounted for three scores for Southside (6-4 overall, 6-2 Division II), including touchdown throws to junior wideout Ezell Jones and senior Jordan Jones. Bernard McCrae had two rushing touchdowns for DuBois (5-4, 4-4 Division II), and Marquise Lyles added a receiving score.

After falling behind early in the second half, Southside responded with two scores before withstanding a late charge by the Panthers to clinch its first postseason appearance since 2006. The Jaguars will likely meet Dunbar at Poly’s Lumsden-Scott Stadium in next weekend’s Class 1A South Region first-round.

“We pushed through it but you got to give up to the line for stepping up,” said Ezell Jones. “I did my job. We all did our parts. We knew it was crunch time.”

Ezell Jones had the game’s biggest play. On a third-and-one from midfield, Nickens threw a deep pass to Jones. Jones caught the ball inside the 10-yard line, but it was knocked away by DuBois defensive back Nate Green.

The ball rolled into the end zone where Jones and Green fell on the loose ball. Green was rewarded the touchdown, extending Southside’s advantage to 26-14 with under nine minutes remaining in regulation.

“Coach always say play until the whistle blows,” said Jones. “It was a lucky play.”

DuBois put together a 10-play, 80-yard drive, capped by a five-yard scoring pass from Irving Woods to Lyles with 71 seconds to play. Woods ran in for the conversion, making 26-22.  The Jaguars recovered an onsides kick and ran out the remaining time.

jordan jones, marcus nickens, ezell jonesAs they walked off the field late Friday afternoon, the Jaguars needed Forestville from Prince George’s County to lose its finale to Largo Friday evening. But DuBois coach Darrell Jackson didn’t think his team’s body of work warranted the possibility of back-dooring into the playoffs.

“As much as I would love to go to the playoffs, you got to deserve the right to go, and I’m not quite if we’ve paid all our dues,” said Jackson. “If there was a $20 fee, we would have $18. We’re young.”

Forestville routed Largo, 39-0, to secure the final spot. Forestville will likely meet Forest Park at Poly in the other region first round match next weekend.

The Jaguars won just four games the previous two seasons before Brown, a Jaguar assistant who starred at North County under Chuck Markiewicz (now coach at Arundel), took over. Brown credited his entire coaching staff, Southside’s administration and his players.

“We got together as a coaching staff and said that was our main goal,” said Brown. “Tomorrow morning, the new season starts.”