DeMatha falls in WCAC football championship, 7-0
BY CHRIS MCMANES
For the DeMatha football team, the only thing worse than the weather was the result.
For the second consecutive season, the Stags failed to score a touchdown in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Capital Division championship and came away with a 7-0 loss to No. 1 Good Counsel.
With falling rain and gusty winds throughout the Nov. 21 game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, DeMatha yielded an early TD and couldn’t capitalize on its limited scoring opportunities.
“Offensively, we just didn’t make it happen,” Stags coach Bill McGregor said. “We didn’t move the ball well enough on the ground and did not throw the ball well enough. You’re not going to win championship games not scoring.”
DeMatha fumbled on its first offensive play, and the Falcons recovered on the Stags’ 31-yard-line. After a 25-yard run on third-and-8 by Wisconsin recruit Dillin Jones brought the ball to the 4, he scored on the next play.
On its ensuing possession, Good Counsel fumbled to give DeMatha the ball on the Falcons’ 27. The Stags had a first-and-goal at the 8 but lost 12 yards when a slippery snap from shotgun formation eluded quarterback Denzel Gardner.
DeMatha wanted to try a 38-yard field goal, but after a delay of game penalty pushed the ball back five yards, the Stags elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 26. Gardner’s pass fell incomplete.
The teams then combined for five consecutive punts, and Good Counsel took a seven-point lead into halftime.
DeMatha’s best drive of the night, which consumed more than six minutes and covered 77 yards, also came up empty. The key play was a 44-yard completion from Gardner to Vinny Ordenes. The junior plucked the ball out of the air around midfield after it had been tipped by two defenders and took it down to the Falcons’ 37. Colin Douglas’ tackle might have saved a touchdown.
After a 4-yard run by Gardner gave the Stags a first down on the 14, they could only manage three 2-yard gains. On fourth-and-4 from the 8, Maryland’s top-ranked junior, Faheem DeLane, broke up Gardner’s pass attempt.
“We’ve got to get the ball in the end zone when we’re down close, and we didn’t do that,” McGregor said. “We had two opportunities, and both times we fizzled.”
Just like in the 2022 championship, the DeMatha defense played well enough to win the school’s 25th Catholic league title.
“Defensively, we played tremendous,” McGregor said. “I don’t think we could have done any better on defense. We gave up the one score. Good Counsel is a great football team. … We bent the one time. Other than that, we played great defensive football.”
For senior wide receiver/defensive back Cody Williams, it was back-to-back championship game defeats.
“It’s very disappointing,” Williams said. “Just the history behind DeMatha and how much we’ve won and how much we’ve accomplished, it would have been great to have a championship leaving here.
“With all the great coaches, teachers and everybody there, I’ll just reflect on the memories and the DeMatha legacy.”
Williams has scholarship offers from Boston College, Howard and Towson, among others. He said in the locker room that he’s leaning to Boston College.
Click here for game highlights.
By the time the game kicked off at 7:03 p.m., it had been raining in Annapolis for several hours. In addition to the unrelenting precipitation, the players had to contend with 12 to 20 mph winds and gusts as high as 27 mph.
The weather not only severely limited passing on the rain-soaked FieldTurf, it also wreaked havoc with rushing. In addition, several snaps went awry or were dropped by the two quarterbacks.
“It was the absolute worse conditions we’ve ever played in,” McGregor said. “I was truthfully very surprised that we played the game. Snaps sometimes were hard to hold on to; even good snaps were tough to hold on to. It was hard to throw the football, hard to maintain anything.
“It was bad, as bad as you could possibly have.”
Williams agreed it was the worse conditions he’s ever played in.
“It was pretty nasty outside, but we can’t make any excuses,” he said. “Football is football, and we just have to play between the lines all four quarters. It was raining on both sides of the field; it was raining everywhere.”
A superb championship history
The Stags fell to 7-4 in championship games against Good Counsel. The teams once faced each other for the crown seven years in a row (2004-10). The Falcons have now won six titles, four under Bob Malloy and the past two under Andy Stefanelli, who was named WCAC Coach of the Year.
“My hat goes off to Good Counsel,” McGregor said. “They played a great football game. They’re extremely well coached and did a great job.”
Both of DeMatha’s losses this season came against the Falcons, who rallied to defeat the visiting Stags on Oct. 13, 35-28 in overtime.
“That was a great game, too,” McGregor said. “Both teams played hard; both teams played well.”
DeMatha defensive lineman Emmett Laws was named WCAC Capital Division Defensive Player of the Year. He will play next season at Virginia Tech.
Stags joining Laws on the All-WCAC first team were Terez Davis, Bud Coombs, Cody Williams, Jermaine Minnis, Micah Veilleux and Luke O’Hare.
Anthony Chuman, Denzel Gardner, Vinny Ordenes, Emmanuel Dyson, Lavar Keys, Jacob Wallace, Blake Houser, Dhonte Jackson, Noah Chambers and Antonio Greene were named to the second team.
Honorable mention recognition went to Jordan Williams, Elijah Lee, Ike Minder, Terry Dorsey and Ashton Booker.
Good Counsel (10-1), which closed with 10 straight victories, will finish the season ranked No. 1 by The Washington Post. DeMatha (9-2) is currently fourth.
Chris McManes covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.