A Culture of Winning the Big Game

A Culture of Winning the Big Game


“Once a DeMatha man, always a DeMatha man.."  Josh Wilson DM ‘03


"There is not a day that goes by when my wife and I don’t talk about DeMatha.  It is part of my heritage."  Dave Kane DM ’60



Many of you out there know that I went to DeMatha Catholic High School for Boys in Hyattsville, Maryland.


What you may not know is that DeMatha, as it is affectionately known as, is the most diesel athletic program in the country.  No seriously they were ranked in the publication Sports Illustrated and had the second best overall athletic program in the country the last two years running.  I know that most of you don’t follow high school sports but if you went to DeMatha you probably still would. 


Some people know about DeMatha and don’t even know about DeMatha.  Even when sport transcends society DeMatha has a way of peeking through and saying hello to the world.  Last year’s basketball team was lead by an All-American named Austin Freeman and they went to Japan and won the prestigious Noshiro Cup after winning the WCAC Championship and City Title.  Years ago the basketball team put DeMatha on the map by giving the only loss in a young prodigious center that changed the way basketball was played forever with his sky hook.  Kareem Abdul Jabbar was called Lew Alcindor back then, and he was the darling of all the recruits because he had never lost a high school basketball game while averaging 33 points a game until he played against a Naismith Hall of Fame coach, Morgan Wootten and his DeMatha Stags.


That was way back in 1964 though.  Today is a brand new day.  DeMatha has branched out into a National Powerhouse so to speak.  The basketball team is ranked nationally.  The football team is ranked nationally.  The soccer team is ranked nationally.  The lacrosse team is ranked nationally.  The track team is ranked nationally.  All of the other sports at the all boys school including golf, hockey, swimming, wrestling, baseball, and tennis are all pretty darn good too.  Right now today the conference that they play in just witnessed DeMatha take 7 out of 13 boys titles offered in sports.  DeMatha doesn’t just play in the conference, they set records and own the conference.


The wrestling team has won 22 titles in a row and produced a national All-American every two years.  But this article isn’t about wrestling.  It is football season right now and the big game is DeMatha this weekend.  September 2nd will showcase DeMatha up against the number one team in the country, St. Xavier of Cincinnati Ohio.  DeMatha, keeping with the tradition of not being anybody’s punk, is going to their home state and stadium to kick their ass for them.  You see, we have an All-American by the name of Kenny Tate.  Kenny Tate ain’t about to lose to some pansies from Ohio claiming that they’re number one.  You see DeMatha is about the culture of winning.  DeMatha taught me to train on little chocolate doughnuts.  (I later added training on blunts at Howard University where I majored in Blunts and minored in Keg Technology.)  If you are able to eat the doughnut and think about being a champion, eventually the focus will enable the eater to live it in reality.


Think about that for a second. DeMatha has crazy alumni too, you know.  They keep it real.  This is a real excerpt from the mailer about the big game.  The author is Tom Ponton ’78, who serves at the school in the capacity of Director of Development.


We look forward to seeing all of the members of the DeMatha family who will be attending this week’s game in Ohio.  For anyone over 21, we remind you to stop by the Radisson on Saturday Night at 7pm to say hello….

Dave Kane ’60 played four years of varsity football and has been an active supporter of the team since 1990. In fact, he was once written up in USA Today as a ‘super fan’ in that he was willing to fly in from various ports of call to watch a DeMatha game.  He once sent Reggie Funderburk ’92 a postcard featuring the visage of Geronimo before a big game in the ’91 season.  On the back he wrote, "You know what you have to do."

Kane, who now lives in Arizona, will be inducted into the DeMatha Hall of Fame in October.  "I started in 1956.  It was Morgan Wootten’s first year as football coach.  I remember him asking us if we wanted to be a part of something special.  Well, I believed it then and I know it now," Kane said.

"I think our philosophy now is the same as it was back then.  We will play anybody, anywhere. For me, that is what it’s all about.  Working hard and taking on challenges," he said. "This game is just further proof of continued excellence. Josh Wilson (’03) was quoted last year, ‘Once a DeMatha man, always a DeMatha man.’  I believe that.  There is not a day that goes by when my wife and I don’t talk about DeMatha.  It is part of my heritage."

Last June at Commencement, Dr. Daniel McMahon ’76 quoted Tennyson as he told the new graduates, "I am a part of all that I have met." Without question, it is obvious that many of the DeMatha football alumni we’ve spoken with still feel like they are contributing members of the "team."  You know what?  They are.


That’s the realness right there.   That is real spit there, homey.  I’m straight up in the game with you right now.  That is how real DeMatha is.  I’m not even going to talk about how other teams in the conference straight hate on our games.  The Principal Emeritus, John Moylan –my principal, once said, “There are a lot of people that can’t wait to see DeMatha lose.”  DeMatha is big on winning.  The Trinitarian monks that hold down the school are really into winning.  They aren’t just into winning in sports either.  The monks are into winning everything.  The academics are sick and even the band is the best concert band in the country.  The monastic lifestyle probably keeps them focused on how to assemble and cultivate greatness or something.  They’re really into it.


Anyway back to DeMatha vs. St. Xavier and how this is probably the game of the year.  I’m not kidding.  The media coverage on this game is absolutely insane.  They are already playing in the pinnacle of high school football pre-season events in the Kirk Herbstreit Challenge which pits the best teams in Ohio against the best teams in the country.   


This is an audio of the coach from St. Xavier giving DeMatha mad props.  This is an article at Prep Nation talking about the potent offense at DeMatha.  The bottom line is that the DeMatha football team is getting major press from everywhere across this great nation of ours and their home state of Maryland.  This is an article in the Gazette about the fact that the boys light to play on the big stage.  This is an article in the Washington Post about how Kenny Tate is just an all out beast and how Coach McGregor prepares kids for the big time stage.  Here is a more recent one.  I also wrote  a blog about Kenny Tate because he is just an all out beast like last year but I’m trying to reduce the hype on him because the All-American honors student is getting so much press it is hard for him to decide where to go to college.  Anyway go to http://www.youtube.com and type in Kenny Tate and see what comes up because you never know what kind of highlights get uploaded by the eager DeMatha fans.


It’s not as if anyone from DeMatha needs the hype though because guys get scholarships like candy at that school.  Weaker schools in the country have one fantastic team or two and they try to run the table in their conference and go undefeated in the hopes that they will be considered for a national ranking at the end of the season.  DeMatha is so big time that college recruiters know that DeMatha kids have already played a college-level, national schedule and will travel around the country in search of the most difficult competition for their best athletic teams.  How can you top that?  DeMatha is never content with just being the best in Maryland or DC, rather they like to play sports on a road show that often leaves them with the toughest schedules in the country.


DeMatha vs. St. Xavier is no different.  When they play on ESPN tomorrow at 1200 EST it will be history.  Very rarely to do top-ranked high school teams play each other.  How bad did DeMatha want to play this game?  How bad did the world want to see this game?  Pretty darn bad, considering DeMatha passed on a game with Hoover of Alabama (of MTV’s hit series Two-A-Days fame) and made this match-up their first game of the season to accommodate St. Xavier’s schedule.  This will actually be St. Xavier’s second game of the season, but DeMatha decided that they better play the game or their schedule wouldn’t be consistent with the direction that their National High School Coach of the Year, Bill McGregor wanted to go in.  That direction is straight up, my friend.  DeMatha has been eyeing a number one football team in the nation, mythical championship, for years now.  The basketball team has three, the baseball team has one, and the lacrosse team has two.  To date the football teams out of DeMatha have been pretty dang good, producing NFL stars like Brian Westbrook of the Philadelphia Eagles but the mythical national title is elusive.


Sissy schools can have fluke years and get voted on by pollsters when DeMatha is willing to take their fate in their own hands.  Being ranked number five in the country is no slouch and who would fault Coach McGregor from playing it safe just so he could have a shot at getting voted number one if some key teams lose?  But to do that, McGregor would be taking the ball out of his players’ hands collectively.  Kenny Tate can’t dazzle the world sitting at home while some forty-year-old ex-football coach is voting to decide on who is number one based on game footage from various blow-outs.


 Anyway the big game is tomorrow so everybody tune in and root for the STAGS! 


Seriously, the Stags are what is right with America.  They are America’s team. The colors are Red, White & Blue. 


3 Responses to “A Culture of Winning the Big Game”

  1. DanKnuckles Says:

    As for St. Xavier, I congratulate them.  They won.  DeMatha
    looked nervous at first.  Tommy had some trouble with the snaps in the
    first drive.  Also when you\’re on the road and you have chance to shift
    the momentum, you seize it, and not in some lame draw-you-off-sides
    kind of way.  Quick digression, I remember when St. John\’s had Wayne
    Holmes playing both ways on the line and tried to get DeMatha to jump
    off sides as a way of securing a first down.  Everybody said it was a
    weak way to do it and that DeMatha would never do that.  Here we are
    some fifteen years later and "Faking the Funk" like Main Source instead
    of playing our game which is right at you, type football.  That, for
    me, was the turning point in the game.
    St. Xavier also had some crazies in the stands that would have made
    it difficult no matter what we were trying to do.  Overall though I
    think that we learned a lot from this game.  I think that DeMatha can
    move forward after this.Our star players suffered because we
    didn\’t have the kind of offense that could get them the ball
    yesterday.  Kenny Tate and Rodney McCloud will have better games, too. 
    My only concern about what I saw on the field was the lack of tackling
    ability on the part of the defensive secondary.  There were a lot of
    players waiting for others to make a play.  Also the pass rush from the
    corners was ineffective due to a lack of speed rushing to the
    quarterback.   Our front four was much bigger but they didn\’t make
    Xavier feel the brunt of it and let them off easy.  It also surprised
    me that the offensive line wasn\’t athletic as I thought that they would
    be as evidenced by the running plays that got strung out to the
    sidelines, time and time again.

  2. DanKnuckles Says:

    Just to follow up the season: DeMatha won the WCAC championship in football for the fifth year in a row in 2007!  The Stags bounced back from their loss at the beginning of the season and stuck it to the local competition, finishing 9-2.  (The only other loss this season came the last game of the regular season after they clinched a playoff birth against Good Counsel.)  Kenny Tate is still a beast.  Look for him to be lighting up your screen as a college freshman next year.

  3. Stags Set to Play Florida’s Godby Cougars on ESPN | The Chronicles of Six Says:

    […] Here is a reminder: https://dicooper.wordpress.com/2007/09/01/a-culture-of-winning-the-big-game/ […]

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