By Chris McManes

DeMatha pride was on full display at the Looney Convocation Center during early signing day Dec. 21. Nine Stags signed to continue their careers on full college football scholarships.

“The thing that I’m most proud about is the work that they’ve put in academically, football-wise, character-wise,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “They touched all the bases to get where they are today.”

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Coach Bill McGregor is all smiles as several of his seniors signed their National Letters of Intent. They are, from left to right, Oluwatosin Babalade, Tawfiq Byard, Kamron Frye, Brandon Smith, Dante Lovett, Jason Moore, DeAndre Ricks and Noah Vitko. (Not pictured: Michael Crounse). Courtesy of DeMatha Catholic High School

Jason Moore, The Washington Post’s Defensive Player of the Year, heads the class of talented Stags. He signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Ohio State. 

“I love the school, just being out there, the environment,” Moore said. “And also being around all the other great players. The team right now is so close; it’s like a true brotherhood. I just want to be a part of it.” 

Moore, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end, often dominated opponents. He finished the season with 12 sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He added an interception and preserved DeMatha’s 17-14 victory at St. John’s by running 35 yards downfield to prevent an end-of-game touchdown. 

In a 2021 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoff game, Moore batted down two passes and recorded five tackles, two sacks and scored a TD. He will be following in the footsteps of DeMatha and Ohio State alumnus Chase Young, who now plays for the Washington Commanders. 

Just like Young, Moore will be mentored by associate head coach Larry Johnson, who also coaches the Buckeyes’ defensive line. Moore calls Johnson “the best defensive line coach. I just feel like I have so much potential. I think working with him will bring out the best in me.” 

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DeMatha senior Jason Moore was named Defensive Player of the Year by The Washington Post. The two-time first team All-Met signed to play with Ohio State, one of the nation’s top programs. Courtesy of Ed King

Moore was the linchpin of the Stags’ stingy defense, which posted four shutouts in 2022. DeMatha’s opponents only scored 65 points all season. The secondary was led by fellow first-team All-Mets Tawfiq Byard and Dante Lovett. 

Byard, who paced the Stags with seven interceptions, signed with South Florida. Lovett, who picked off four passes, confirmed his commitment to Virginia Tech. 

These players also put pen to paper: Michael Crounse (Boston College), Kamron Frye (William & Mary), DeAndre Ricks (Merrimack), Brandon Smith (Merrimack), Noah Vitko (Delaware) and Oluwatosin Babalade (South Carolina).

“It feels great; all the stress is gone,” Babalade said. “I’m ready to be a Gamecock, so it’s time to get to work.” 

DeMatha finished 10-2 and advanced to the WCAC championship game. The next Division I signing period is Feb. 1 to April 1, 2023. 

“I’m so proud of the year we had,” McGregor said. “Although we came up a little bit short, it was absolutely fantastic. The success of a season is not always measured in wins and losses. 

“Today, we had nine young men sign, which is a great day. I think we’re going to have five or six more on the second signing day.” 

All-Met Stags – The following DeMatha players were honored as Washington Post All-Mets (offense and defense):

First Team

Jason Moore, Sr. DL (Defensive Player of the Year)

Dante Lovett, Sr. DB

Tawfiq Byard, Sr. DB

Second Team

Michael Crounse, Sr. OL

Honorable Mention

Luke Hackett, Sr. LB

Emmett Laws, Jr. DL

Tovani Mizell, Jr. RB

Brendon Wyatt, Sr. RB

Brandon Smith, Sr. OL

Cody Williams, Jr. WR

Chris McManes (mick-maynz) has covered DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times since 2015.