Stags Update: WCAC Football Weeks 8 & 9, Long Range Speculation

I’m sorry, but did Alicia Keys just get on the stage wearing some purple displaying that perfectly rotund ass, and wailing the Jay-Z anthem “New York” as a pre-game warm-up to the second game of the world series? Did John Legend just put down the Star Spangled Banner?  The New York Yankees are so big time, but they also better win tonight…

Wow, that just happened.

The DeMatha Stags have been winning steadily without the help of The Long Ranger, folks. Marcus Coker didn’t start Week 9 and we’re heading in to Week 10 and while I haven’t exactly been all up on the Stags, that doesn’t mean that I wasn’t keeping a watchful eye on all of them. I’m going to give you the run down on the scores from Weeks 8 & 9 before I get into all of that though.

WCAC Football 2009: Week 8 Recap

There were no surprises in the eighth week at all. Everybody that was expected to win did just that. Good Counsel blanked Paul VI 49 – 0 to prolong the agony of the Panthers’ season in Olney.

Bishop McNamara handled Bishop O’Connell in much the same manner, handing them a 29 – 0 loss. The Battle of the Bishops wasn’t nearly as good this year as it was last year because many of the Knights came down with the dreaded Swine Flu before travelling to Forestville.

In the battle for North Capitol Street Gonzaga showed Archbishop Carroll who was boss 34 – 13, and finally defended their home turf. There were some people that believed that Carroll was going to manage a win, but I wasn’t one of them.

Lastly, you already knew what DeMatha did to Saint John’s College from the early release. Stags rolled 37 – 7 on the Cadets’ home turf and I’m told that Coker only played a half before getting injured. Fortunately the injury isn’t serious, but there will be more on that later –as promised.

WCAC Football 2009: Week 9 Recap

Week nine was a lot like week eight, in that there were no real upsets. The only thing that made it slightly different was the fact that some of the scores were closer. I guess this means that everyone is taking a cue from the DeMatha Stags and teams are starting to rely more on back-up players before making that final push in the playoffs?

The score that jumped out at me right away was the unimpressive victory that the Mustangs had over the Lions, 7 – 0. When I think of the talent disparity, I would imagine that the McNamara could have pulled off a three touchdown victory at the very least, even though the weather was bad and McNamara was on the road. If this were Las Vegas then I suppose that a lot of people would have gotten burned on the spread.

The second score that caught my attention was the 22 – 10 victory posted by the Falcons over the Cadets of Saint John’s. On the one hand Saint John’s always plays Good Counsel pretty tough, even on the road, but on the other hand this should have been a blow-out, too. I can’t really call it. I will say that this game probably had one of the best action photos of the year in it, though.

Paul VI can’t really play with anybody this year and they lost, again, to an improving Gonzaga team 20 – 7 on the road. This score was also significant because the Panthers finally scored a touchdown and Gonzaga’s offense finally seems to be coming back to normal after stepping it up recently.

Lastly, the DeMatha Stags crushed Bishop O’Connell 35 – 7 at the Prince George’s County Sports Learning Complex. I want to say that the Knights are still suffering from the flu, but I don’t know if it would have had a significant outcome on the game if they were all healthy. DeMatha is coming together right now as a team and the Stags aren’t just relying on The Long Ranger. For the second straight week the league’s leading rusher did not get significant playing time. Why?


Here’s What I Know…  But What Do I Know?

Two weeks ago The Long Ranger was in contention for national recognition for Player of the Year considerations but I don’t believe that it sat particularly well with the coaches. Not for the reason that you’re probably thinking, but because the rest of the DeMatha football team still hasn’t played to their full potential, yet. I’ve alluded to it before on this site, but DeMatha isn’t a school where an individual is going to be made into a super star. No matter the sport, DeMatha is a school where the team is going to compete for a championship, and whatever lessons are necessary are going to be taught along the way.

Coach Emeritus Morgan Wootten is famously the punch line to an old joke that has haunted DeMatha hallways: Who is the only person to hold basketball Hall of Famer Adrian Dantley under thirty points-per-game? Students might still be there getting a chuckle out of that joke, but like the old folks say, “there is truth in every jest.” Coach Wootten would often sit basketball players simply for having too many points in the game. I can also speculate that current Head Coach Mike Jones holds players like Oladipo to the same standard.

Win or lose, Coach Wootten was committed to the overall welfare of the team so much that individual superlatives would suffer. (I don’t believe that selfish players fit the sort of system or tradition that has been passed along at DeMatha.) Could a player such as Keith Bogans, score more than 30 points-per-game when he was at DeMatha? Probably so. Would Keith Bogans ever get many opportunities to score that many points in a DeMatha uniform? Probably not. Even though football and basketball are different, I can totally remember Coach Wootten’s philosophy for hot shot players and their accolades.

Any player approaching the limit of let’s say twenty-five points in a basketball game would be monitored and substituted for immediately, if DeMatha was cruising towards an apparent victory. Even when the Stags were approaching losses, star players sat on the bench with 30 points, almost without exception and it became a right of passage for the great ones: Adrian Branch, Hawkeye Whitney, Sid Catlett, James Brown, Vaughn Jones, and etc… Coach Wootten would say, “Come and explain to me how you got all those points next to me on the bench.” What is more, Coach Wootten meant it. I heard one hot shot that later went on to play for Duke try and convince The Wizard of Washington that he “meant to pass that last time.”

Coach Wootten had no qualms about stopping play, or calling a time out, just to take a player out of the game that had too many points. Ball hogs were quickly cured of the habit if they wanted to log minutes on the floor at DeMatha. You’d have to be having a hell of a game to get back in the action with 30 points even in a losing effort. I’m talking about guys having at least ten assists and twenty rebounds in a game that DeMatha was likely going to lose, but not surprisingly, this didn’t happen very often. (I think Jones had 32 points and 20 rebounds in a standard 32 minute high school game as a DeMatha player, once –but we won that game.)  In team sports, and with the correct emphasis being placed on the team rather than the individual, there is little incentive for one player to outshine his teammates.

Of course there are always cases in which a player is just so talented that he stands out above everybody else. (Mike Jones wasn’t really that type of player, but it still happened for him, so what does that tell you?)  In the early 1970’s at DeMatha that person was Adrian Dantley, and a joke was born. Today, we are talking about a different sport altogether and the student athlete is Marcus Coker, a University of Iowa committed recruit. Football is also a team sport but there are also elements of strategy that lead me to believe that the DeMatha coaching staff is saving him. Injuries can be a big problem in high school football and with two successive wins it didn’t seem necessary to play Coker at all to avoid any risks. Sure there is speculation that he could very well be injured, but for some reason I just don’t believe it.

I think that the reason why he probably isn’t playing is a little more obvious than that: other DeMatha athletes are being forced to step up by a coaching staff pushing for a seventh league championship in a row. The Long Ranger already has his golden ticket: a scholarship offer from a Big Ten school, University of Iowa. Why not give some other kid a chance to shine on highlight reel because the object for Bill McGregor is to get as many kids into college as possible? I thought it almost as soon as it happened back when The Long Ranger proved to the Good Counsel Falcons that he wasn’t the type that would go gently into any good night: the Stags can’t make a habit of that if they want to go undefeated.

After scoring three touchdowns in the span of ten minutes of a game, it is pretty pointless to keep pushing the young man out there he definitely deserved the rest. Aside from running the risk of injury or over-exposure, DeMatha coaches are probably only thinking of winning another WCAC championship. (The Stags make no bones about wanting to win, but DeMatha’s trademark has always been the impossible team win through amazing synergy –and the football team just doesn’t seem to be there yet.) DeMatha has had some pretty great players in just about every sport that you can imagine throughout the years, but I don’t think that you can any one of them “over-exposed.” I tend to believe that good coaches know when all the talk is going to a kid’s head, and they will shut it down.

Don’t get me wrong, everything that I have heard from Marcus Coker in interviews suggests he isn’t that type of student-athlete, but DeMatha isn’t the type of school that is even willing to take that chance. Excellent coaching is another trademark of the Stags. The DeMatha, or Trinitarian philosophy, has always been to err on the side of caution when dealing with egos in the making. Nobody is above being taken down a peg or two, at DeMatha, as many a young “superstar” has found out. Deflection for the humble usually comes in the form of a phantom injury. In the case of the rare DeMatha student-athlete that thinks he’s bigger than the team, a suspension for “violation of team rules” is the usual prescription.

I know people out there are reading the Washington Post and thinking about past DeMatha stars who never graduated from the school because of similar quotes that ran. Let me state for the record that I don’t believe that The Long Ranger is in the same category as any of the people that you might be thinking about. (There are way too many people to name that used to go to DeMatha, and never graduated because they couldn’t conform to the simple system.) I have inklings that he’s an excellent student that doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight at all. As long as DeMatha football keeps winning then I wouldn’t see why Head Coach Bill McGregor wouldn’t sit him down with an injury that changes locations, and allows college recruiters to see some of the other kids that want to play big time college sports.

DeMatha is way ahead of most of the other schools in the WCAC, in that regard. The Stags aren’t in the business of producing professional athletes, but they are in the business of sending student-athletes on to college. These scholarships aren’t going to offer themselves, now are they? The professional mentality is a little too cut-throat for teenagers, but for those willing to play nice, glory awaits on a DeMatha Stags athletic team. What is more, you have a better chance at getting a college scholarship at DeMatha, even when playing behind a record-breaker like The Long Ranger, or even sitting on the bench. How’s about those Stags!


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