DeMatha closes regular season with 33-0 victory, awaits playoffs
By CHRIS MCMANES
Winning coaches love games like No. 3 DeMatha’s 33-0 victory at No. 18 Bishop McNamara on Saturday. The Stags played well in all three phases, reserves saw significant action, no one was injured and just enough mistakes were made to give the coaches things to emphasize in practice.
“I thought we did a great job,” DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said. “We had a good week of practice overall. We came out and did what we had to do.”
With the win in their Washington Catholic Athletic Conference regular-season finale, the Stags improved to 8-1 and 3-1 in the WCAC. They have a bye this week and will host the winner of the St. John’s-Gonzaga game on Nov. 10.
Four players scored rushing touchdowns for DeMatha, and senior Micah Veilleux made two field goals. The Stags rushed for 228 yards on 40 attempts, and their offensive line did not allow a sack.
Junior Bud Coombs ran for 67 yards and scored on a 41-yarder to give DeMatha an early 6-0 lead. On their next possession, the Stags traveled 64 yards in 12 plays to increase their advantage to 13-0. Denzel Gardner was 5 of 6 on the drive, including a 17-yarder to fellow junior Vinny Ordenes, and sophomore Elijah Lee scored from 15 yards out.
After Veilleux made his second 25-yard field goal, DeMatha had a 19-0 lead with 1:25 to play in the third quarter. Senior Remy Robinson (3 yards) and sophomore Kai Jones (8 yards) concluded the scoring for the Stags.
Lee rushed 13 times for 63 yards and one TD, and had a 40-yard pass reception. Gardner accounted for 55 yards on the ground and 119 yards through the air. He finished 12 of 19.
Sophomore quarterback Ben Raines replaced Gardner with 8:20 to go in the game and did not attempt a pass. Classmate Darius Harrell had runs of 7 and 19 yards.
Order the Pastries
DeMatha has a tradition of buying their defensive players donuts anytime they post a shutout. After all, a donut is shaped like a zero.
After turning the ball over on downs four times, punting twice and losing a fumble, the Mustangs put together their deepest penetration into Stags’ territory. They had a first-and-goal on the 7 toward the end of the game but came up empty against mostly DeMatha reserves.
Senior Larrell Sharp ended McNamara’s final hope when he pushed Zach Butler out of bounds. Stags’ starters were jumping up and down encouraging their teammates to preserve the shutout.
“Everybody loves donuts,” senior defensive lineman Emmett Laws said.
“Any time they get a shutout, the defense gets the donuts,” McGregor said.
What about the offense?
“The offense has to keep grinding,” McGregor said with a laugh. “We’re blue collar guys. They’re all the pretty guys on defense.”
The Mustangs were playing without their starting quarterback, Ninoah Miguel. He was replaced by freshman Trysten Johnson, who considered attending DeMatha before opting to play his home games at Tyoka Jackson Field.
Johnson completed his first 10 passes, including one for 19 yards and another for 32.
“I think he’s really going to be outstanding someday,” McGregor said. “They have some really talented wide receivers, some big, strong running backs and a tough offensive line.”
The Stags’ defense seemed to improve as the game unfolded. “I feel like we started off slow,” Laws said. “Then we got it together, fought hard, dug deep and got the win.”
Veilleux, in his first full season on the Stags’ football team, has had few opportunities to kick field goals. On Saturday, he hit the first two of his career, both 25-yarders.
The kicks were good practice for Veilleux heading into the playoffs. He should now have confidence that he can make a three-pointer if called upon.
The play that elicited the biggest response was Veilleux’ hit on a kickoff. McNamara’s T.J. Chambliss received the kick at the 2 and was heading for a possible touchdown when Veilleux tackled him after a 54-yard gain.
His teammates were going crazy.
“That was a big hit. Shoot, I didn’t know Micah could come down like that,” Laws said. “He should have played safety, too.”
McGregor called it a “great tackle. [Chambliss] got into a seam, and Micah, he’s our kicker. You don’t want that to happen too many times but fortunately he was where had to be. He’s a tough competitor.
“Before he kicked for us, he was a heck of a soccer player. So, he’s used to competing and used to making plays. He’s a real competitor.”
Veilleux, like he’s done all season, put three more kickoffs into the end zone.
“He did a great job kicking the ball with the two field goals and the punts,” McGregor said. “Overall, I thought he had another outstanding game.”
After DeMatha kicking coach Jamie O’Connor confirmed that Veilleux’ tackle was the first of his career, he said, “hopefully, that was the last hit of his high school football career.”
Saturday marked McGregor’s 312th career victory, tying him with the late John Harvill, who was inducted into the Montgomery County Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday. Harvill spent his entire head coaching career (1956-99) at Gaithersburg High and compiled a record of 312-97 (.763). He helped create the state playoff system in 1974 and led the Trojans to four undefeated seasons and two state championships.
McGregor, now in his 34th year at DeMatha, has a career record of 312-51-3. He has guided the Stags to 17 football conference championships and four baseball titles. His .852 winning percentage is No. 1 in Maryland gridiron history.
DeMatha held steady at No. 3 in The Washington Post Top 20. Good Counsel (7-1) remained No. 1. St. John’s (4-4) is 7th and Gonzaga (6-3) 12th. McNamara (6-3) fell out of the rankings.
The top 4 teams qualify for the WCAC Capital Division playoffs. Good Counsel will host the loser of the St. John’s-Gonzaga contest. The Falcons, who defeated the Stags on Oct. 13, have clinched the No. 1 seed.
The Capital Division semifinal winners will meet at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Tuesday Nov. 21.
DeMatha has a bye this week and will host a playoff game at Wilson Stadium in Landover on Friday Nov. 10 at 7 p.m.
Chris McManes covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.