Episcopal seeks third straight conference title

Episcopal seeks third straight conference title
Episcopal high school players practice on a hot afternoon in August. The Maroon kicked off their 2017 season with a 37-14 victory over Boys Latin on Sept. 9. Next up is another non-conference game, at home against Gilman at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Photo Credit: Jeff McQuilkin)

By Jeff McQuilkin

On a hot and humid afternoon in late August, head coach Panos Voulgaris and the Episcopal High School varsity football team held their first practice of the season and began their quest for a third consecutive Interstate Athletic Conference championship. The team is coming off an 8-1 record last year, losing only to arch rival Woodberry Forest in the final game of the season.

While the coaching staff remains intact, the team lost several key starting seniors from last year’s team.

“We graduated more seniors to Division 1 schools last year – schools like Penn State, Michigan, Virginia, Yale and Lehigh, than in any other year in my five years here at Episcopal,” Voulgaris commented. “So this year we’re going to look for a surprise from some of our unproven players.”

The team received a big surprise last year when then-junior Ricky Miezan walked on to the team. Already a varsity lacrosse and soccer player, Miezan was looking for a new challenge.

Episcopal football head coach Panos Voulgaris watches his team during practice in August. (Photo Credit: Jeff McQuilkin)

“My friends told me I should play football,” Miezan explained. “I saw how much they cared about the team, and the togetherness of the team. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Miezan played several positions last season for the Maroon, including fullback, tight end and defensive end.

This season he’ll try punting as well.

“Yeah that’s my soccer skills coming in handy,” he quipped.

Miezan, who was the lacrosse team’s second leading scorer last season, and the number one ranked junior nationally, finds that his lacrosse skills are beneficial to his new sport.

“The dodging in lacrosse, the cuts and jukes definitely help me on the football field,” Miezan said. Miezan was so impressive in his debut season on the football team that he drew interest and offers from several Division 1 programs.

“My plan is to honor my commitment to play lacrosse for the University of North Carolina,” Miezan said, “… and maybe football too.” Episcopal’s offense will be led by senior quarterback Seth Agwunobi and senior running back Perris Jones.

Agwunobi, one of the top senior recruits in Northern Virginia this year, was first-team All-IAC last season while throwing for almost 800 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 468 yards and another eight touchdowns.

“I think I am a good leader and I have a pretty good arm,” Agwunobi said. “But I want to work on my communication to make sure everyone, from the freshmen to the seniors, is on the same page.”

Jones, who transferred to Episcopal from nearby Bishop Ireton, is coming off an impressive season in which he rushed for 1,248 yards and fifteen touchdowns. Jones was also an All-IAC first team selection, and was the IAC’s Offensive Player of the Year as well as a Washington Post All-Met Team Honorable Mention.

On the defensive side, senior middle linebacker Vincent Notzon returns from a
first-team All-IAC campaign of his own. The San Antonio, Texas, native switched from safety to linebacker after his sophomore year, and the change is paying off.

“I’ve always liked defense,” he added. “I just like hitting people.”

And like his teammate Miezan, he loves the camaraderie of his team.

“We’re a real close knit group,” Notzon said. “We’re always together. We eat together and
we study together. I love that. And I love playing for Coach Voulgaris.”

Their goal for the season?

“We want to go 9-0,” Miezan said. “And beat Woodberry Forest.”

The Maroon took their first step toward that goal on Sept. 9 when they defeated Boys Latin of Baltimore by a score of 37-14 in a non-conference opener. Next up is Gilman, also of Baltimore, which travels to Episcopal for a 2 p.m. non-conference game on Saturday.