By Chris McManes

DeMatha football coach Bill McGregor was pleased with his team’s point total and margin of victory Friday night. The Stags’ execution and attention to detail, however, left much to be desired.

“It was a good win. We’ll take it and move forward,” McGregor said. “But overall it was incredibly sloppy – too many penalties, too many mistakes. We did not play DeMatha football; I wasn’t happy.”

No. 3 DeMatha moved to 4-0 with its 41-3 victory over Life Christian Academy at Wilson Field in Landover. 

Running back Bud Coombs rushed for 72 yards and scored twice to help lead DeMatha past Life Christian Academy, 41-3.
Photo courtesy of Ed King

Junior Bud Coombs rushed seven times for 72 yards and two touchdowns – all in the first half – as the Stags built a 35-3 halftime lead. Sophomore Elijah Lee carried the ball five times for 24 yards and a score.

DeMatha junior quarterback Denzel Gardner was 8 of 12 for 149 yards and three TDs. Sophomore Lavar Keys caught the first touchdown (59 yards). Senior Cody Williams and junior Vincent Ordenes also scored. 

Wide receiver Lavar Keys had a 59-yard touchdown reception in DeMatha’s 41-3 win over Life Christian Academy.
Photo courtesy of Ed King

The Stags featured two quarterbacks throughout the evening, including Ben Raines, who finished 4 of 5 for 48 yards. 

“I thought Denzel had a good ballgame; I was really happy with him,” McGregor said. “And I also thought that Ben did well. We got good play out of both quarterbacks.”

While Gardner is a three-year starter, Raines was just playing in his second varsity game. It was his most significant action of the season and should provide him with good experience if he has to come into a close game. 

“It will help a lot that I’ve played,” said Raines, who threw a TD pass against St. Michael the Archangel. “I’ll be more prepared, less nervous [and] ready to run the offense.” 

DeMatha’s mistakes began after they forced the Eagles (0-3) to punt on their opening drive. Keys ran the ball back for a touchdown but saw it negated by a running into the kicker penalty. 

The Stags then lost their first of three fumbles to give Life Christian the ball on DeMatha’s 21-yard line. The defense held the Eagles to a 26-yard field goal by Zach Slaughter. 

Life Christian senior Khali Coward had a terrific game, catching four passes for 113 yards, including a one-hander. On a 50-yard reception down the left sideline, he broke two tackles. 

Missed blocking assignments, poor tackling and penalties plagued DeMatha all night. It was a far cry from its 25-23 five-overtime victory against Roman Catholic on Sept. 15. 

“As well as we played the second half of last week, we didn’t play that kind of football tonight,” McGregor said. “It’s football and we’re young. We’re going to go back to the drawing board and correct some mistakes and not let this ever happen again. 

“We’ve got to get a lot better.”

Combs, who is also one of the top prep baseball players in the nation, had several runs of 10-plus yards.

“Bud played well,” McGregor said. “He’s a really solid football player. He shows up week in and week out. I thought he did a very fine job tonight.”

What would have been Combs’ best run of the game was wiped out by a penalty.

“That’s what we’ve got to clean up,” McGregor said. “We were way too sloppy, way too loose. I don’t think we had great focus. What’s really disappointing is that we had really good practices. We just lost the focus. That’s the tough thing.”


Junior defensive back Terry Amos helped keep the Eagles out of the end zone with his late interception at the Stag 1. 

Senior defensive tackle Emmett Laws recovered a first-half fumble and returned it six yards. He has committed to Virginia Tech.   

Another milestone for McGregor

McGregor, with his 308th career victory, became the winningest active high school football coach in Maryland. He is tied for No. 3 all-time with Doug DuVall (Wilde Lake) and four behind John Harvill (Gaithersburg). 

Bob Milloy, who began his career as a JV coach at DeMatha and finished it at Good Counsel, is first with 405 victories.

TV time

McGregor was on Fox5 with Chad Ricardo on Sunday night. In the interview, McGregor discussed how he got into coaching, his relationship with the great Morgan Wootten and his unwavering dedication to his players. 

WCAC rankings

Despite their victory, the Stags fell one spot in The Washington Post Top 20. Every team in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Capital Division is ranked: No. 2 Good Counsel (3-1), No. 3 St. John’s (3-1), No. 4 DeMatha (4-0), No. 12 Gonzaga (4-1) and No. 15 McNamara (5-0). 

Next game

The Stags conclude their nonconference schedule against Rock Creek Christian Academy (2-3) at Wilson Stadium on Friday Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. 

DeMatha will open WCAC play by hosting Gonzaga on Friday Oct. 6 at 7 p.m.

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