Posts Tagged ‘Gonzaga’

National Focus on WCAC Football in Final Weeks of 2016 Season

October 30, 2016

We are coming up on the football regular season finale in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) but before can we just acknowledge that the DeMatha kids from years’ past are doing alright?  DeMatha football had a bye-week in the last weekend of October but the Stags that won championships over the previous three years were hard at work this Saturday.  Lorenzo Harrison is up to his old tricks now with the University of Maryland and he has played his way into All-Freshman team talk.  Lorenzo has been nothing short of sensational and professional scouts have already taken notice. Fellow Stag turned Terrapin teammate Tino Ellis just started his third game and is impressing in college, as well.  John Lovett is busy setting records at Princeton for scoring touchdowns.  Ju’Whuan Bentley and Mark Allen took a photograph at the Purdue versus Penn State game and contemplated the bond of excellence that ties all of these gentlemen and scholars together.

We could easily go on.  All those guys were extremely good, but none of them were playing for a national title this late in the football season.  As much success as the recent key performers had in DeMatha uniforms and beyond, there is even more excitement surrounding the 2016 squad.   There are new players ready to make a name for themselves and they could do it in rare style.  (There will be more on those athletes in The Chronicles of Six very soon.)  DeMatha football players today have the chance to go undefeated and subsequently launch head coach Elijah Brooks into the pantheon of legendary Stags. Of course, they would also do the same for themselves because the 2016 team is also in the hunt to be the best high school football team in the United States.  Coach Brooks was an outstanding DeMatha football player and he understands the high stakes that his kids are playing for.  The team is sitting at a perfect 9-0 and they are ranked #6 in the USA Today expert poll and #9 according to USA Today computers.

If DeMatha football remains undefeated in 2016 they will go down as one of the best sports teams that the school has ever had.

The groundwork for this kind of campaign is grueling and has taken decades of trying to finally materialize.  DeMatha has been on the cusp of greatness for a while and the evidence has always been on the field.  With a multitude of suddenly famous players as precursors and WCAC football championships from 2013, 2014, and 2015 this year could be considered a continuation of sorts.  The pressure has been slowly mounting for years and thoughts are now drifting towards capping the season in a way that has seldom been done in school history.  An unblemished record could also mean a measure of vindication for the national aspirations of the football program at DeMatha but first they are going to have beat two of the top four teams in the league, twice.

For the first time since coach Brooks took over the program this DeMatha football team is in control of their own national destiny heading into November. First, the 2016 football Stags need to take care of business in the conference to close the regular season and then again in two playoff games.  Good Counsel is a familiar WCAC foe standing in their way and the presumed fourth playoff seed is likely to face the Stags two weeks in a row.  The first meeting this season between the two will be broadcast on ESPN in their finale of the annual high school football showcase of the top teams in the country on November 4.

The Falcons haven’t enjoyed much success against DeMatha in recent years and are playing to retain respect in a league that has seen some changes in the top echelon of competition that they once dominated.  Gonzaga and Saint John’s College have both beaten Good Counsel already and will play their own storied rivalry between themselves on the same weekend to determine the second and third playoff seeds.  Some of the best and most-watched high school football is going to be in the WCAC and eyes have finally shifted from powerhouse states like Texas and Florida to the DC Metropolitan area.

Such a change has been a very long time coming.  None of the WCAC superlatives would have been possible in a league that simply settled for just being mediocre, and the top four teams have all played a significant part.  DeMatha football is poised to stand out from even this elite few but it will take a complete group effort to get the job done.  (The Stags have previously won national titles is wrestling, soccer and basketball.)  DeMatha Catholic High School for Boys is no stranger to the added attention but the 2016 football players could really capitalize on it in a very political sport.  Football rankings that are produced over multiple seasons are almost impossible to climb but we might all be witnessing something special.

Stay tuned because whatever happens next is guaranteed to be newsworthy.

2016-dematha-football

The 2016 DeMatha Football team is attempting to make history in November.

DeMatha Versus St. John’s College Is Back On In High School Football

October 4, 2016

DeMatha bested St. John’s College 14 – 13 on Friday, September 30 and one thing quickly became clear: The rivalry between DeMatha and St John’s College High School (SJC) is back in full effect on the gridiron.  The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) has several high profile events in football despite imbalances.

(Full Game Highlights from utrhighlightvideos / YouTube)

DeMatha has not lost to SJC in football in almost a quarter of a century and the Cadets haven´t notched a championship in football since 1989.  While the recent football record has been lopsided in the favor of the DeMatha Stags it is now obvious that the Cadets are once again serious about challenging their supremacy.  Their last appearance in the WCAC football championship game in 2013 resulted in a 31 – 10 drubbing at the hands of DeMatha.  The Cadets haven’t been back to the WCAC final game since, but they have recently lured a myriad of skilled athletes with undeniably augmented facilities.

A recent influx of cold hard cash from Under Armour CEO and SJC alumnus, Kevin Plank, has propelled the Cadets into not just WCAC relevance but also national rankings.  The Cadets (4 – 2) came into the DeMatha game ranked in the top 25 in the USA and had previously been ranked as high as number 10 prior to their loss to IMG Academy in Florida.  As sports fans have witnessed at the university level there are often higher expectations and thus more pressure with such generous financial support.  SJC forced an alumnus out as head coach of the football program last year to make room for a renowned outsider in Joe Casamento.  A bevy of top prospect transfers bolstered the Cadets that have continued to make gains but the narrow loss on September 30 against the 3-time defending WCAC champions has created more questions than answers.

The talk around the WCAC is that SJC can’t be satisfied with anything less than total victory but it remains to be seen if all of the changes are going to be enough.  DeMatha is currently ranked number 4 in the USA and the Stags have their eyes set on a national title.  In order to complete that mission the Stags are going to need a little luck with absolutely no losses for the remainder of the year.  DeMatha has been fortunate with a 6 – 0 record but as they might recall from the previous year, a national title in high school football is no easy task.  Surprises can come from unexpected sources however the Cadets are all but assured a second chance at beating DeMatha in WCAC playoffs in a shrinking football league.

There aren’t too many WCAC schools that have had the stomach for this kind of high school football arms race.  Bishop Ireton and Paul VI have long since departed from playing the football schedule but still opted to stay in the WCAC for other sports.  When Bishop O’Connell of Virginia also dropped the sport there were only Maryland and DC schools left to play each other.  Three of the remaining six schools filled the holes in their schedules with national prominence in mind and that suddenly made wins against them hard to come by.  Gonzaga managed the feat last year in league play against the DeMatha Stags in 2015 and effectively ended the strongest national championship bid in recent years by a Washington DC metropolitan area school.

In order to even be considered for a national title the focus has to be maintained because every single game essentially becomes a national title game.  Contests against traditional rivals within the league are often the biggest pitfalls.  Even teams like Bishop McNamara and Archbishop Carroll have their hearts set on upsetting their more famous neighbors to make a name for themselves. There is a lot of good football to look forward to in 2016. SJC versus Gonzaga is one of the oldest rivalries in the history of the sport and DeMatha must play at Good Counsel to finish the WCAC regular season.  Both games will be played during the first weekend in November.

The grueling season will only get harder from there.  The WCAC playoffs and the pollsters are unforgiving in football and we all can’t wait to see how 2016 factors into ending these debates.

(Featured Photo A Stag In The Woods)

Gonzaga Upsets DeMatha to Win the 2015 WCAC Basketball Championships in 2 Overtimes

February 27, 2015

“He dared the lightning in the lightning’s track,
And answered thunder with his thunder back.”

–  Paul Laurence Dunbar

DeMatha against Gonzaga would never be the rivalry that it is today unless Gonzaga won some games, and last night added another victory for the Purple Eagles.  Gonzaga earned their twentieth win of the season in the most important game, the 2015 WCAC Title,  and in storied fashion required two overtimes to dismantle DeMatha.

The drama could have played out differently for the Stags. DeMatha certainly had their chances to win as they entered the fourth quarter with a ten point lead.  Gonzaga would fight back like they always do and erase the deficit to put the Stags in a pressure situation at the line to win it in the final seconds of regulation.  DeMatha was unable to put the Purple Eagles away and it eventually came back to haunt them when Gonzaga eventually opened up a nine point lead of their own.

Sam Miller destroyed any hopes of a comeback with a tremendous effort hitting three-pointers and getting buckets in the paint late in the game.  Chris Lykes shone brightly for Gonzaga to that point, along with a host of guys that can only be filed under “never-heard-of” until this signature season win.  Gonzaga Head Coach Steve Turner must certainly be proud of his guys for fighting this epic game out until the end.  As a basketball fan, it was something to see.

As a DeMatha alumnus it hurt to watch but honestly the Stags have been sticking it to Gonzaga in the sports that draw a crowd as of late and the Purple Eagles sparked at just the right time.  DeMatha Head Coach Mike Jones is probably scratching his head on this one, and the Stags are going to have to find another way to punctuate this season.  I’m not exactly sure what the post-season plans are other than the Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament but the Stags should have revenge on their minds for all of the schools that stole the thunder from their otherwise outstanding season.

Watch the 2015 WCAC Basketball Championship Live for Free on the Internet Tonight!

February 26, 2015
Markelle Fultz at the line in the Hoop Hall Classic.

Regardless of the POY award he already received Markelle Fultz knows that the most important shots are ahead of him.

Unless you have been living under a rock, or in Andalusia, you probably already knew that DeMatha will take on Gonzaga this evening (2/26) in the 2015 WCAC Basketball Championship.  Coverage begins streaming live with the girls game at 6PM eastern standard time (EST) with the boys to follow at 8PM, courtesy of DMVSTREAM.  (See below.)  Here is exactly what you need to know in a speedy bullet format:

  • Don’t be late because the live stream is free, but downloads and videos after-the-fact will cost you.
  • This is the third match-up of DeMatha versus Gonzaga this year with DeMatha winning the first two contests during the regular season.
  • DeMatha and Gonzaga also played twice last year with the Stags winning both of those contests as well.
  • Gonzaga has three First Team All WCAC selections: Bryant Crawford, Chris Lykes, and Sam Miller.
  • DeMatha has two players named to the First Team All WCAC with Darren Harvey and the 2015 Player of the Year, Markelle Fultz.
  • Throw the records out of the window because this game is guaranteed to be a dogfight with players from both squads doing their all to win a championship.

DeMatha VS Gonzaga for 2015 WCAC Basketball Championship, Again

February 24, 2015

There are a lot of great sports rivalries that get written about but DeMatha versus Gonzaga, in just about every sport, stands up to the test as one of the most exciting in high school sports.  Add basketball to the mix, a sport in which both schools take a tremendous amount of pride in, and you have a recipe for the greatest high school rivalry ever.  The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is the toughest in America and the last two all-boys high schools in it have desperately clung to superiority complexes that often play-out on the national stage.

Gonzaga versus DeMatha is gigantic already, but the legend is still growing.  Soon they will meet for the 2015 WCAC Basketball Championship, again -and everybody that follows high school basketball knows the implications.  Gonzaga versus DeMatha is Washington D.C. against Maryland, “God is purple” disagreeing with “I believe”, Purple Eagles opposing Stags and so much more.  There may have been a different mindset that has shaped the destiny of each school, but they are seldom far apart.  DeMatha has been the high school basketball trendsetter ever since the Power Memorial game fifty years ago and the Stags also have six national titles to back that up.  Gonzaga has always been an excellent foil, at their worst, and occasionally plays the spoiler to DeMatha when their basketball team is at their best.

Today DeMatha is (27-3) and trying to end the longest championship drought they have ever had in the WCAC: three years.  Gonzaga (19-10) basketball has been on the precipice of being nationally formidable all year and they can finally do that if they can find a way to beat the most well-known team in the league for the championship and salvage another lackluster season.  Individually there is no shortage of star power on either squad, today or historically.  DeMatha junior Markelle Fultz is the 2015 WCAC Player of the Year, and sophomore Darren Harvey garnered First Team All WCAC honors.  Gonzaga has two players deserving of First Team All WCAC honors as well: sophomore Chris Lykes and senior Sam Miller.

The DeMatha Catholic High School for Boys is in search of their fortieth (40) league championship after their win over Saint John’s College in the WCAC semifinals.  This one is especially poignant for the Stags as they look to officially punctuate another incredible season and send the seniors out on a high note.  Seniors Thomas Bruce, Terrell Allen, Ahmad Clark would all love nothing more but I am equally certain that if Jaelin Grant wants any bragging rights in his family whatsoever -he needs a DeMatha win more than anyone.  Each of Jaelin’s three older brothers managed to bring home a conference title for the Stags, and this is his last year to add to the already spectacular legacy.  On a personal level, I want to see Jaelin holding up the hardware.  I am hoping that this isn’t one of those years where Gonzaga can pull off the ultimate upset after losing two games to DeMatha during the regular season.  So now you know the deal…

Go Stags!  Get 40!

Plodding to a WCAC Tournament Preview

February 17, 2015

By now you have already heard the news that DeMatha lost the last two of their final three regular season WCAC basketball games against Bishop McNamara and Paul VI.  The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is the toughest in a America and DeMatha contended with emotional team performances and opposing crowd enthusiasm on what was “senior night” for both schools.  The Stags were not able to withstand late game blitzes in both cases and fell in the waning minutes of the 4th quarter to teams that desperately needed to win.

DeMatha is still a young team and they are in the process of learning what it means to be champions and how to survive in frigid gyms for that matter.  Nobody on the current roster was around for the Stags’ most recent WCAC title in 2011, and the state of Virginia has dominated the previous three years.  There is plenty of emerging talent in the conference with the confidence to challenge the #1 seeded DeMatha Stags in the tournament.  In addition to the two schools that already proved it, I would add Saint John’s College and Gonzaga to the list of basketball teams to watch for upsets.

Bishop O’Connell won the conference title in 2013 but it was disputed due to the Junior Etou age scandal so their games still have to be watched with scrutiny for unscrupulousness as long their head coach and athletic director remains at the helm.  Things are always interesting at this time of year and the Stags may have learned to trod more carefully when seeking their goals because other teams are always hunting after notoriety.  The 2015 WCAC Basketball Tournament title is the primary objective and the Paul VI Panthers are the defending champions, winning the title in 2014 and in 2012.

Welcome to a routine year in the WCAC where we have six teams gunning for the basketball title in 2015 so we can’t worry about cannibalizing collective chances at National Title runs with home-away splits!  DeMatha has their work cut out for them right now especially since national and local rankings will surely account for back-to-back loses.  However it appears that several of the WCAC teams are evenly matched, and the DeMatha basketball team should be eager for rematches on a neutral floor with the top position in the single-elimination tournament.

Go Stags!

Season Wrap Up: Stopping the Run on 2014

November 23, 2014

(Or, none of these teams were able to stop the run in 2014.)

Gonzaga, McNamara, Saint John’s College, O’Connell, and Saint Mary’s Ryken were all out of contention for the 2014 WCAC football title but what they also have in common is a relative optimism about their programs in the last two years. During that same period of time we have all witnessed the WCAC become extremely competitive in high school football and the parity within the league recently has been especially astounding.

Which two of the aforementioned five teams slated to play in the WCAC next year had the best year in 2014 and should be feeling the best looking ahead?  Please comment!

Ryken can say that they beat a playoff team (McNamara) and will start WCAC play next year with something to prove in the state of Maryland. Their current coach is a former DeMatha head football coach and he already knows what the WCAC is about. Ahem.

McNamara did just unveil Ramar Williams, a certain Division 1 football prospect, and shocked everybody by making the playoffs but it remains to be seen if they will get anybody to play defense for the Mustangs. Is one sensational sophomore quarterback enough to turn an entire program around, anyway?

Saint John’s College beat some of the best football teams in the United States of America but couldn’t manage a win against the top four in the WCAC. I think that this speaks volumes about the state of WCAC football and less to the ability of the Cadets –even if early victories don’t count as much as late season wins.

Bishop O’Connell really thought that they were doing something for a minute there… Well it seemed like it anyway. Also the Knights say that they have some players ready to take over the league but I don’t know their names so I couldn’t possibly mention them here.

In the preseason Gonzaga was nationally ranked and picked to take home a WCAC championship glory after a much extended absence –but it was not to be. After struggling to make the playoffs the Purple Eagles failed to score in the second half for the second time this year against a familiar WCAC foe –but their season isn’t over due to the new DC state championship format.

What A Win! DeMatha Surges Past Gonzaga 28-20!

October 28, 2014

Anytime DeMatha beats Gonzaga, I’m smiling. This time the Purple Eagles lost to the Stags on senior night after being wildly over-hyped at the beginning of the season. (They were ranked #25 in the country at one point.) All of a sudden Gonzaga is going to have to fight just to get into the playoffs. The Stags can lock up the second seed in the playoffs behind Good Counsel with a win on November 8th against Archbishop Carroll. Go Stags!

The DeMatha players to watch are S/WR DJ Turner, RB Lorenzo Harrison, RB Anthony McFarland, WR/CB Tino Ellis, and sophomore QB Beau English.

Inside DeMatha Football

Down 13 points at halftime to Gonzaga on Saturday, DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks challenged his team to put forth a better effort in the second half. The Stags responded. Led by powerful running from Lorenzo Harrison, DeMatha scored 21 straight points en route to a 28-20 come from behind victory.

Screen shot 2014-10-26 at 10.05.35 AM“With all the starters we lost, we know people have been counting us out,” Harrison told the Washington Post. Harrison finished the game with 155 yards and two touchdowns.

“All that matters is we know we can get the job done, and that’s what we did.”

The win against Gonzaga showcases a DeMatha defense improving as the year goes on. The Eagles came into Saturday’s game with arguably the best offense in the WCAC, and after a sloppy start, the Stags slowed the Eagles to a crawl.

“As a defense, we realized that the only reason they were making…

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Bonfire

February 11, 2012

Gonzaga @ DeMatha February 10, 2012

So it went down sweet for the Stags on ESPN2 last night. It was beautiful.

Gonzaga’s coach looked horrendous. When I got home and saw him on my DVR in HD in all his disheveled glory I almost started to feel sorry for him. Then, at that moment, I remembered that DeMatha is totally awesome; like roasting marshmallows around a bonfire.

Referees disqualified our star player, and team leader, with two whack technical fouls but it didn’t matter. Mike Jones looked like that high school kid that won championships for DeMatha in 1991: cool, calm, and collected. The Stags rallied and poured on the gas.

The detention of derelicts that crowded DeMatha’s Kathy and Morgan Wootten Gymnasium basketball court on both ends reveled with their band and fashioned their hands like antlers on their heads.  Gonzaga was cooking on national television and the glow from the flames warmed the face of my soul.

That was the whole game.

bonfire

Ups & Downs + Rivalry Week

February 8, 2012

Tonight basketball aficionados all over the country will have their eyes glued to ESPN to watch two of the greatest rivalries in the college game today: Georgetown vs. Syracuse and Duke vs. UNC. It is officially Rivalry Week on the premier sports network and the saga continues this Friday on ESPN2 when Gonzaga plays DeMatha at the Kathy and Morgan Wootten Gymnasium / Convocation Center. I’m going to let that sink in for a minute.

In two days DeMatha will play a regular season home game on ESPN2.  Before we get ahead of ourselves let’s recap what has transpired in the WCAC so far because the drama has been thickening quickly, of late. For starters there is a good chance that when Gonzaga and DeMatha play this Friday that it will only be for second place in the WCAC. That would be due to the fact that Paul VI is currently undefeated in league play. Let’s get down to the get down…

January 21, 2012 Gonzaga edges out DeMatha 76-74 at Bender Arena on the campus of American University in their first meeting of the WCAC season. The good news is that the Stags came all the way back from an eighteen point deficit to tie the game. The bad news is that DeMatha missed out on their opportunity to stick it to Gonzaga and the cause was the familiar nemesis of free throws.  Kris Jenkins had one of the most outstanding games I have seen a Gonzaga kid play. It wasn’t a good day for the Stags to come out flat but again, at least the slide would be short lived.

The Stags cruised to their second win against Archbishop Carroll on January 24, winning the contest 78-66 in what would turn out to be the last home game for super sophomore Johnnie Shuler in a DeMatha uniform. The backup point guard that dazzled college scouts with expert ball control transferred to the DCIAA public school Theodore Roosevelt amid rumors and speculation. I, for one, hate to see him go out like that but I wish him well. Never let it be said that sophomore year at DeMatha is easy which I suspect is the reason for the blazer color change to red/maroon for the junior year: you have to earn it.

The first place Paul VI Panthers proved that their early national ranking and successes were justified when they defended their home court against DeMatha on January 27th. DeMatha, again, didn’t make enough foul shots and let a spirited crowd rush the floor when Paul VI made a last second shot to win the game 64-62. The Panthers made things even more interesting in the WCAC when they also beat Gonzaga 66-53 in a command performance at home four days later to take firm control of first place.

Just to show you that this phenomenon of even the top echelon of teams losing in tough regular season WCAC match-ups isn’t isolated it is wise to note that Paul VI was the second team to beat Gonzaga this year. The Purple Eagles fell to rival St. John’s College Cadets 56-54 on January 29th. DeMatha took care of business on January 31st winning at St. Mary’s Ryken, 92-62 in the two teams’ second regular season meeting. I wasn’t at that game, but I was told that DeMatha looked sharp.

The Stags continued their winning ways against St. John’s College 76-54 on February 3rd to close out the Cadets for the regular season. While the Cadets have shown marked improvement, I was more impressed with how DeMatha Head Coach Mike Jones was able to tweak his line-up to best St. John’s. With Johnnie Shuler gone it almost seemed like DeMatha was having back-up point guard auditions. Not to fear, Stag faithful, the cupboard is full and next year some will be surprised that newly promoted players from Junior Varsity can be great.

Last night Our Lady of Good Counsel lost to DeMatha for the second time 64-37 –this time at home in a game promoted by Coaches Against Cancer. DeMatha has one more home game tomorrow night against Bishop Ireton before the nationally televised game on Friday, and I hope that they can keep up the good work. I wrote a little while ago that I was drunk of the Stags but now it is finally time to get to the sobering work of winning a WCAC Basketball regular season by hitting free throws and defending our home floor. It isn’t rocket science.

Mike Jones already knows this stuff and we have guys that have been here before. James Robinson is just starting to get into his highest gear. The Cookie Monster has worked the kinks out of his mechanics. Jerami Grant is starting to play more responsibly –like an All Star should. Marcellous Bell is still killing teams, slowly, three points at a time. The kids are going to be alright.

I believe that we will win.