Ajahni Terry injured his knee in Northwest’s 2017 season opener. He initially tried to play through the injury before having season-ending surgery to repair a torn meniscus. By the time he returned to health, Terry had missed most of the following offseason, and it showed. While teammates and opponents had gotten bigger, faster and stronger, Terry was trying just to get back to where he was before the injury.
“He was a little behind,” Northwest Coach Mike Neubeiser said. “When you look at the big picture, it really set him back. You’re sitting a lot [while recovering] he couldn’t really run. He played the whole season last season and was solid, but he could have been more explosive.”
This past offseason, though, Terry was in good health and fully committed to getting ready for his senior year. He ran track to work on his speed and was intent on doing everything he could to improve. And while the Jaguars have spread the ball around offensively, the 5-foot-8, 200-pound Terry has shown himself ready when called upon.
This past Friday, Terry carried 22 times for 180 yards and two touchdowns as Northwest avenged its only loss this season by beating Quince Orchard, 22-13, in a Maryland 4A semifinal, ending the Washington area’s longest active winning streak at 22 games. It was the third consecutive playoff game that Ajahni rushed for more than 100 yards, setting a new season-high for rushing yards in each game.
For his efforts, Terry was named the Military Bowl DC Touchdown Club High School Football Player of the Week.
“He’s strong as heck and he’s more fluid this year,” Neubeiser said, noting that Terry finally got the headlines in a matchup with Quince Orchard and its record-setting running back, Marquez Cooper.
“He’s always been in Cooper’s shadow. He doesn’t say anything about it to anyone, but you can tell it bothers him.”
Northwest (12-1) plays Wise (13-0) in the Maryland 4A final on Friday at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis – a meeting of teams coached by former Wake Forest football teammates, Neubeiser and Wise’s DaLawn Parrish. Neubeiser was the DC Touchdown Club High School Coach of the Year in 2015 and Parrish won the award in 2016.
Others receiving Player of the Week consideration were:
Dunbar LB Marquez Minor made eight tackles and broke up a pass as the Crimson Tide beat H.D. Woodson, 21-12, in the DCIAA Turkey Bowl.
Catoctin RB Carson Sickeri rushed 26 times for 235 yards and three touchdowns as the Cougars beat Fort Hill, 41-0, in a Maryland 1A semifinal.
Stone Bridge RB Jared Cole rushed 17 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass as the Bulldogs beat Woodgrove, 57-15, in the Virginia 5A Region C final.
South County WR-DB Brock Spalding caught three long touchdown passes and intercepted a pass on defense and returned it for a touchdown as the Stallions beat Lake Braddock, 31-15, in the Virginia 6A Region C final.
Wise WR-DB Dorian Strong caught two touchdown passes and returned an interception 40 yards for a third score as the Pumas beat Old Mill, 44-0, in a Maryland 4A semifinal.
GAME OF THE WEEK
DC: Dunbar (10-2) vs. Friendship Collegiate (9-3) in DCSAA AA final at Catholic University, Sunday, 3:30
Maryland: Wise (13-0) vs. Northwest (12-1) in Maryland 4A final at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Friday, 7:30
Virginia: South County (13-0) at Westfield (13-0) in Virginia 6A semifinal, Saturday, 3:30