DeMatha Football moves to 3-1 with another shutout
By Chris McManes
DeMatha took an early 14-0 lead Friday night against Friendship Collegiate Academy. That’s pretty good considering its offense had yet to take the field.
The No. 3 Stags (3-1) got touchdowns from all three phases of the game en route to a 34-0 victory at Wilson Field in Landover.
“What I loved the best about this evening was we started fast,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “We had the special teams touchdown, the defensive touchdown and the offensive touchdown. It was 21-0 in the first quarter.
“Good football teams start fast. You take advantage of situations and get things done right out of the gate. And I thought that’s what we did tonight.”
Tovani Mizell, a junior transfer running back from South Florida, rushed 13 times for 108 yards and a TD. Bud Coombs had 64 yards rushing, including a 36-yarder, and fellow sophomore Denzel Gardner added 59 yards and two scores.
DeMatha, which lost its season-opener 11-6, has not allowed a point since. The Stags throttled Rock Creek Christian, 26-0, and Benedictine of Cleveland, 38-0. Their three consecutive shutouts are one shy of the school-record four straight they posted in 2019.
“We’ve got a lot of [defensive players] returning from last year and a lot of guys stepping up,” McGregor said. “Guys are making plays. You win championships with defense. We’re going one game at a time, and hopefully we keep it going like we have.”
Kristian Tate got the scoring started following the Knights’ first possession with a 55-yard punt return touchdown. The senior wide receiver went left initially before streaking down the right sideline.
Senior defensive end Elijah Yarbrough ended FCA’s next possession when he scooped up a fumble and ran 55 yards into the end zone. DeMatha built its 14-point lead less than two minutes into the contest.
The Stags’ offense joined the scoring parade by going 77 yards in eight plays. Gardner completed two passes to junior Cody Williams for a total of 25 yards, and Coombs added his 36-yard scamper. Gardner had a 12-yard run and then scored from the 1. With 2:27 left in the first quarter, DeMatha led 21-0.
Junior defensive tackle Emmett Laws had a sack and pass break-up for the Stags. Defensive backs Dante Lovett (senior) and Terry Dorsey (sophomore) each recorded interceptions.
“Our defensive effort was very aggressive, and I think that we all played as a team and did our thing,” Laws said.
The DeMatha defense has allowed just one touchdown this season. Laws credited “all the work” the team did in the offseason and “working with Coach Tobe [Stephens] in the weight room, just conditioning and getting our bodies right for those key moments.”
The Stags tallied again late in the first half on a 37-yard Gardner run. The second-year starter dropped back to pass, then took off up the middle eluding tacklers. He finally bounced out to the right and scored.
Mizell feeling right at home
DeMatha featured Mizell on its opening drive of the third quarter. He had two runs of 16 yards, a 15-yarder and a 12-yarder. He produced 68 of his total yards on the march and punctuated it with a 5-yard TD.
“I can’t thank my offensive line enough. They were creating nice, beautiful holes,” said Mizell, who has committed to reigning national champion Georgia. “When I got past the first level, I just had to make something happen [and] run with passion.”
Mizell joined the Stags from Cardinal Newman High School in West Palm Beach, Fla. He is fitting in well with his new classmates at the Hyattsville all-boys school.
“I love the school, I love football here, I love everything,” he said.
DeMatha hosts Life Christian Academy in Landover on Friday Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. The Stags defeated the Eagles (3-1) last season, 14-0. Both teams come in on three-game winning streaks.
“It seems like we’re getting better and better each week,” said McGregor following his 297th career victory. “That’s the mark of a good football team. “We’ve just got to keep improving.
“Our game against Life Christian is going to be a tough one. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re incredibly athletic.”
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.