By Chris McManes

Now the fun – and the challenge – really begins.

No. 4 DeMatha scored 28 first-quarter points en route to a 42-0 victory over Rock Creek Christian Academy at Wilson Stadium in Landover on Friday. The Stags took a 35-0 lead into halftime and recorded their first shutout of the season. 

“It was a good night from the very beginning,” DeMatha coach Bill McGregor said. “We jumped on them quick and played a really fine first half. That’s as sharp as we’ve been all year.”

Junior quarterback Denzel Gardner accounted for four touchdowns as the Stags improved to 5-0. They will open Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play Friday night at home against Gonzaga. 

The Eagles (5-1), ranked ninth, will provide DeMatha with its biggest test to date. 

“We’ll have to turn the intensity level up a lot,” Stags tackle Terez Davis said. “Gonzaga is a hard opponent [and] our rival. It’ll be a different atmosphere. It’s not just another team. It’s definitely going to be a tough task.”

DeMatha took the opening kickoff against Rock Creek and marched 65 yards in six plays. Junior Bud Coombs rushed for 57 yards on four carries, including runs of 20, 17 and 12 yards. Gardner hooked up with Vincent Ordenes for 13 yards, and Coombs punctuated the drive with an 8-yard run. 

Junior Bud Coombs rushed for 88 yards and scored DeMatha’s first touchdown in the Stags’ 42-0 rout of Rock Creek Christian. Senior Terez Davis (No. 77) helped open running lanes all night.
Photo courtesy of Ed King

“I feel like we were making our blocks and getting to our spots,” said Davis, who has committed to Maryland. “We’ve got room for improvement every single week. Next week should be better for sure.”

Stags senior defensive end Blake Houser sacked quarterback Kash Carter on the Eagles’ first play for a 17-yard loss. After DeMatha got the ball back, Gardner completed three passes to Cody Williams (for 2, 19 and 16 yards) and concluded the drive with an 8-yard scoring jaunt. 

“We came out and just played good football,” McGregor said. “We had a tremendous week of practice, by far our best week.” 

The Stags needed just one play to go up 21-0 when Gardner lofted a 45-yard TD pass to Ordenes. The junior wide receiver went in motion twice, faked like he was blocking for a screen and then ran a go route down the right sideline. 

With 42 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Gardner threw a 31-yard TD to Williams. Just before the end of the first half, Coombs rushed four times for 22 yards, and Gardner went 4-for-4 passing, including a 7-yard scoring toss to Ordenes.

DeMatha showed good balance running and passing. Gardner finished 11 of 13 for 155 yards with no interceptions and three touchdowns. Coombs carried 12 times for 88 yards and one score.

“I thought we did a nice job mixing it up,” McGregor said. “Denzel threw the ball very well; he was sharp. He hit a couple RPOs (run/pass options). And Bud had another good game.”

Because of the running clock as a result of the Stags’ 35-point lead, they only had the ball twice in the second half. Their final TD came when sophomore defensive back Darrell Carey stepped in front of a Carter pass and took it back 70 yards.

Emmett Laws, a senior DeMatha defensive tackle and Virginia Tech recruit, said holding Rock Creek scoreless “feels great. We had a good week of practice and we pushed each other every day. And shoot, we did our thing tonight.”

Now that the nonconference portion of the Stags’ schedule is over, Laws is looking forward to DeMatha’s next four games and the WCAC playoffs.

“We’ve had the appetizer,” he said. “Now comes the main course.”

Getting his kicks

Senior Micah Veilleux had an outstanding game kicking and punting for the Stags on Friday. He put five kickoffs into the end zone, forcing the Eagles to start those drives from their own 20.

“He’s been outstanding all year,” McGregor said. “His kickoffs could not have been any better. When he puts the ball in the end zone, they have to go 80 yards [to score]. That’s a long-looking field.”

Senior Micah Veilleux, shown here punting against Roman Catholic, had an outstanding game vs. Rock Creek Christian. The former DeMatha soccer player, in his first full season with the football team, has performed well enough to draw college interest. Photo courtesy of Ed King

Veilleux played soccer for DeMatha until joining the football team late last season. His first kickoff came in the WCAC championship game against St. John’s. He has been working with Stags kicking coach Jamie O’Connor and should continue to improve. 

“He’s been a soccer player his entire life and came up to us at the end of last year,” McGregor said. “He did a great job in the championship game. We knew we had something to build on. I just did not know how well he can punt.

“He’s really worked hard with coach O’Connor, and it’s a real tribute to Jamie, who’s spent a lot of time with him. We’re reaping the benefits.” 

Veilleux also punted four times Friday for a 41.3-yard average. His 46-yard punt had a hang time of 4.06 seconds, which is very good for a high school kicker. He also nailed a 47-yarder that was downed at the Rock Creek 1.

“He did a great job with the punts – good height, good distance,” McGregor said.

Veilleux, who added six extra points Friday, has put himself in position to earn a scholarship. 

“He’s definitely a college player,” McGregor said. “He’s going to go somewhere. Somebody’s going to be really happy with a kicker like him.”

Two-sport Tyson

Tyson Harley preserved Gonzaga’s 16-13 overtime victory against Friendship Collegiate with an overtime interception. The sophomore linebacker, who also plays hoops for the Eagles, is a former star basketball player for St. Jerome Parish.

Another milestone for McGregor

McGregor, in his 34th year as head coach at DeMatha, won his 309th game Friday. He is now the third-winningest high school football coach in Maryland history. John Harvill is second (312) and Bob Milloy first (405). 

McGregor’s .858 winning percentage (309-50-3) leads all Maryland football coaches. 

WCAC rankings

The Stags moved up one spot to No. 3 in The Washington Post Top 20. Each of their
WCAC Capital Division rivals are ranked: No. 2 Good Counsel (4-1), No. 4 St. John’s (3-2), No. 9 Gonzaga (5-1) and No. 15 McNamara (6-0). 

Next game

DeMatha’s Top 10 matchup with Gonzaga is Friday Oct. 6 at Wilson Stadium in Landover at 7 p.m. It is the Hyattsville school’s homecoming. The Stags defeated the Eagles twice last year, including 28-7 in the WCAC semifinals. 

 Chris McManes covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.