By Chris McManes — Had Tyler Lenhart chosen to attend high school somewhere other than DeMatha, there’s a good chance he’d be a starting quarterback by now. Instead, he has had to wait patiently behind one of the area’s top signal callers, senior Beau English.

But with English nursing an ankle injury last week, Lenhart got the nod under center. He made the most of his opportunity, and the Stags’ offense didn’t miss a beat in a 49-12 victory over Bishop McNamara on Oct. 7 in Landover.

Lenhart, a 6-foot-1, 176-pound junior, was making his first career start at DeMatha. It came on Homecoming.

“I’ve been working for this as far back as I can think,” Lenhart said. “It was a great Homecoming night. Beau went down and I had to step up and take his role. I’m just happy I could perform tonight.”

“It was a great night,” he said.

The Stags, ranked No. 1 in the area and No. 5 nationally, improved to 7-0 and 3-0 in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. They were coming off an emotional 14-13 victory over league rival St. John’s. English sustained a right high ankle sprain in that game and was still limping when DeMatha took the field against McNamara (3-4, l-2 WCAC).  

Lenhart’s primary job in the first half was to hand off to the Stags’ talented stable of running backs: Myles Miree, Marshawn Lloyd and Khory Spruill.

Lenhart also got into the act and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0. It was one of five rushing TDs for DeMatha, which took a 21-0 lead into halftime.

Stags Coach Elijah Brooks took the reins off Lenhart in the second half, and the Crofton resident did not disappoint. He looked especially crisp on an array of fade patterns. These passes require the quarterback to drop the ball carefully over the cornerback while his wide receiver fades toward the sidelines.

“Every time we come into a game, we want to establish the run,” Brooks said. “McNamara did a good job trying to sell out to stop the run. We had to make some [pass] plays over the top to kind of loosen them up a little bit.”

Lenhart, who typically only plays when games are well under DeMatha’s control, finished 7 of 11 for 161 yards with one interception and two TDs. English, who will play at Air Force next year, was able to rest and enjoy Lenhart’s performance.

“Ty and Beau are both really good players in their own right,” Brooks said. “It just takes [the team] some time to kind of get adjusted to a new quarterback.

“Ty did a phenomenal job.”

Brooks said he was pleased to see Lenhart play while the outcome was in doubt.

“There’s nothing more valuable than game experience,” the sixth-year Stags coach and DeMatha grad said. “Ty had an opportunity to come in here, go through some tough plays and bounce back. You need to experience that because no practice can replicate that.

“He did a great job. I’m proud of the way he performed tonight.”

Lenhart said he knows he might not play another down in an important part of the Stags’ remaining games. But if called upon, he’ll take the field with greater confidence.

“I’m going to keep working and get better from this game,” he said. “I’m going to take it day by day. That’s the goal.”

DeMatha travels to Gonzaga today

The Stags will play at WCAC foe Gonzaga today. Game time in Northwest Washington is 2 p.m. It will be DeMatha’s first Saturday game in 2016. The No. 4 Purple Eagles were the only team to defeat the Stags last year, 24-14. DeMatha has not lost since.

Gonzaga enters the contest 5-1 and 2-0 in conference. Its only loss came in the season opener, 32-29 at home to McDonogh. The Stags ventured to Owings Mills to play McDonogh on Sept. 16 and came away with a 49-28 victory.

The Eagles are led offensively by senior Tyree Randolph, who has rushed for 991 yards and 17 TDs. English is expected to return at quarterback for DeMatha.

“Our guys know what’s ahead of them,” Brooks said. “We have our work cut out for us against a real good Gonzaga team at their place. That’s a tough place to play.”

Chris McManes is in his second year covering the DeMatha football team.