Wyatt’s career day leads DeMatha into WCAC playoffs
By Chris McManes
DeMatha senior running back Brendon Wyatt hasn’t drawn a lot of interest from college football recruiters. He probably will now.
Wyatt rushed for a career-high 217 yards and scored three touchdowns to propel the Stags past top-ranked Good Counsel, 28-14, on Nov. 4 in Landover. With the victory, they moved from second in The Washington Post rankings to No. 1.
“It was a good team win,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “It was a hard-fought football game. Good Counsel is a great team. It’s tough to line up and play every week. Now we’ve got another tough game this week.”
The Stags (9-1), who have won nine straight, earned the top seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference Capital Division playoffs. They will host No. 18 Gonzaga (5-5) on Friday Nov. 11 at Landover’s Wilson Stadium.
Game time is 6 p.m.
On his second of 17 carries, Wyatt rushed for 26 yards. Three plays later, quarterback Denzel Gardner found Cody Williams for a 53-yard touchdown. The junior wideout beat the coverage, and Gardner hit him perfectly in stride at the Falcons’ 25. Williams finished with five catches for 79 yards.
Good Counsel tied the game at 7 early in the second quarter on a 7-yard run by Dillin Jones. Quarterback Frankie Weaver ignited the 11-play, 80-yard drive with a 29-yard completion to Joe Williams.
DeMatha’s stellar defense got first-half interceptions by Brian Bates and Luke Hackett. Bates returned his 11 yards to set the Stags up at their own 44. Wyatt sandwiched 11- and 13-yard runs around a 10-yard Gardner completion to Alvin Thornton to move the ball to the Falcons’ 3.
Wyatt scored from there to send DeMatha into halftime up 14-7. He made another house call on the first play of the third quarter by scurrying 80 yards straight up the middle.
Good Counsel (8-2) drew within 21-14 late in the period on a 1-yard run by Peyton Nelson. The Stags followed by driving to the Falcons’ 1 but were stopped short of the goal line on fourth down.
After DeMatha held Good Counsel to a three-and-out, Wyatt again went up the middle for a 36-yard TD. The Falcons got down to the Stags’ 20 on the strength of Weaver’s five completions for 39 yards and four runs for another 22. His fourth-down pass fell incomplete.
“Our goal is to keep them out of the end zone, and we do whatever it takes,” DeMatha senior defensive end Jason Moore said. “Whatever we’ve got to do, we’re going to do it.”
Wyatt leads rush to daylight
In addition to Wyatt’s 217 yards, Tovani Mizell ran five times for 67 yards, and Gardner added five carries for 14 yards. The Stags’ 298 rushing yards works out to an 11-yard average.
And it came against one of the best teams in the nation.
Good Counsel entered the game ranked 12th nationally by High School Football America. DeMatha checked in at No. 21.
Wyatt, a 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, had six runs of 10 yards or more.
“Brendon had a great game,” McGregor said. “That’s a tribute to the offensive line. I think they did a great job, and he ran hard.”
Wyatt also credited DeMatha’s big guys up front, particularly on his 36- and 80-yard TDs.
“The holes were wide open,” Wyatt said. “I thank my line for that. They’ve been doing a great job the whole year.”
McGregor said a Mid-American Conference team inquired about Wyatt last week and that he was going to get them a video of his senior’s career-best performance.
“It feels good,” Wyatt said after conducting the most postgame interviews he ever has. “All we did is execute our game plan.”
Mizell, a junior who has committed to reigning national champion Georgia, showed off his considerable skills with a 48-yard run.
“We have several great running backs,” McGregor said. “They can make anything happen any time they touch the ball. I’m very proud of them and very proud of how our offensive line played against a very, very good defensive team in Good Counsel.”
Moore is not surprised by Mizell and Wyatt’s success.
“We already know they’re great players,” Moore said. “We see it in practice every day. It’s definitely great to see both of them come out here and do what they do best.”
Postseason gets underway
The WCAC Capital Division semifinals will also feature seventh-ranked St. John’s at No. 2 Good Counsel on Friday at 7 p.m. The Falcons blanked the Cadets (6-4) on Oct. 28, 24-0.
The winner of that game and the DeMatha-Gonzaga victor will meet for the championship at the U.S. Naval Academy on Sunday Nov. 20 at 5 p.m. The Stags downed the Eagles 27-3 on Oct. 8.
“It’s WCAC playoff time,” McGregor said. “The four teams that make the playoffs are probably the four best football teams in the D.C. area.”
The Metro Division semifinals will pit top-seeded Archbishop Carroll vs. Bishop O’Connell, and St. Paul VI vs. St. Mary’s Ryken. Their championship game, also at Navy, is Nov. 20 at 11:30 a.m.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers DeMatha football for the Hyattsville Life & Times.