Posts Tagged ‘SJC’

Saint Johns Beat DeMatha In Football

October 21, 2017

2017 will certainly be a year that goes down in Saint Johns College history if only for ending a very long streak of losing in football to DeMatha.  The Cadets finally managed to have a good day and bested the Stags on the gridiron 38-22 in front of their homecoming crowd on Military Road.

It isn’t hard to put this win into perspective for Saint Johns because no one on their current football roster was born the last time that they beat the Stags in 1994.  We announced some time ago that Cadets changed the football landscape and that the rivalry with the Stags was back.   With this win, Saint Johns will undoubtedly justify the drastic changes that they have undertaken but it probably still rings a little hallow.

DeMatha falls to 4-4 on the year, and 0-3 in the WCAC.  For the first time in a while, DeMatha is fighting to be the fourth-best team in a very competitive league.  Looking at the strength of schedules, DeMatha doesn’t have any significant wins at this point in the season and Saint Johns merely joined the ranks of Good Counsel and Gonzaga who also beat the Stags this year.  The loss to Saint Johns College was their third in a row in a season in which DeMatha has struggled against upper echelon football teams.

The defending WCAC champions are now fighting just to make the playoffs.  DeMatha needs two straight wins at Bishop McNamara (October 28) and Archbishop Carroll (November 4) in order to control their own destiny.  Nothing will come easy for the Stag squad this season because, by now, everybody smells blood.

There have been some bright spots for the DeMatha Stags football team.  Senior Judson Tallandier was named to the American Under-19 football squad.  Senior Kicker Jake Dolinger is showing why four-year Stags are still the most sought after student-athletes in NCAA recruiting after recording a notable score on the SAT.

Yet DeMatha finds themselves in an unfamiliar position because they are unable to dominate key aspects of football games against teams -like they have in years past.  Sacks and rushing touchdowns are both down in 2017.

Cervus elaphus in the city

Stags are in unfamiliar territory.

The Big Four all have offensive and defensive lines that hover around the average weight of 300 lbs per player -and that makes for very tough sledding.

 

Once more the Stags are still trying to find their footing in a sport that isn’t very forgiving.  DeMatha has even tried changing quarterbacks to no avail: both Tyler Lenhart and Eric Najarian have notched two losses as the starter.  The ability to overcome injuries and distractions is also a huge part of football and the DeMatha Stags still aren’t totally out of contention yet.

If DeMatha can claim the fourth seed outright, there is still a chance to defend their title and win a fifth straight WCAC championship.  Can they come back unscathed from the verge of annihilation in 2017?  Stranger things have happened to the Stags so we will have to keep you posted.

[Featured Image: City of Ashton website]

 

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DeMatha Loses To Good Counsel In OT

October 14, 2017

The DeMatha Stags football team couldn’t send off the seniors in style, losing in overtime against a tough Good Counsel squad for their last home game of 2017.  In a low scoring game that primarily featured run defenses, both teams stayed knotted at the conclusions of half and full times.  The relatively equally matched teams have become familiar with each other’s strategies over the years and they each only managed a touchdown in the first half.  DeMatha took a 14-7 lead until 2:02 left in the fourth quarter when Good Counsel tied the game on a spectacular passing play that left the Stags stunned.  The Falcons would then stop DeMatha in overtime and score a winning touchdown with a final score of 20-14.

DeMatha dropped their second game in a row and falls to 0-2 in the WCAC football standings.  Eric Najarian made his second start at quarterback of the season and Tyler Lenhart didn’t take any snaps.  The Stags are left to search for a way to restore the high expectations that they had for themselves at the start of the season with a 4-3 overall record.  While a WCAC football title is still in reach, DeMatha has to understand now that they are merely fighting for survival at this point.  The Stags aren’t used to this position.

Still the current crisis isn’t nearly as bad as it could be due to league restructuring.  There are six teams competing for the title and DeMatha is still all but assured of beating two of them to secure a playoff spot.  However nothing in the WCAC comes easy.  The Stags need to embrace what has quickly manifested into a rebuilding year and take a longer view for the season.  Head coach Elijah Brooks appears to have already done so with his decision to bench a former starting quarterback on his senior night in favor of a junior.

The quarterback controversy is sure to be revisited because the Stags seemed anemic on offense in their latest losing effort.  Senior running back Detrick Washington scored on the ground in the first half, and DeMarcco Hellams broke a crossing pattern loose after gaining fifty yards for a score in the second half.  DeMatha wouldn’t sustain a drive until late in the fourth quarter, but they failed to score and didn’t chew up enough clock to prevent Good Counsel from scoring.  A personal foul put the Falcons in DeMatha territory with time winding down.  The momentum shifted and the Stags never recovered.

Good Counsel used a strong running game to keep the DeMatha defense from pinning their ears back and rushing the passer.  The Falcons running back Latrele Palmer demanded a lot of attention at the line of scrimmage, and it was eventually the big bruising back that scored in overtime.  DeMatha did manage some bright spots on defense, but Falcons head coach Andy Stephanelli mixed in a good array of plays.  Both teams had crucial turnovers in the game but the outcome was decided when Good Counsel maximized their opportunities when DeMatha couldn’t.

DeMatha looks ahead to one of their biggest challenges of the season when they have to go to Military Road and take on the Saint Johns Cadets.  SJC beat Good Counsel last week and they have been itching for some kind of revenge for over a quarter century of losses to the Stags.  The October 21 game will be a difficult test but DeMatha can’t afford to take any of the games lightly now.  With no home games left to hide behind, the remaining WCAC teams are going to look to cow the Stags into submission.  Suddenly now the last two games of the season against Bishop McNamara and finally Archbishop Carroll are important.

We are all anxious to see how DeMatha football will respond in the future but feel free to check the tale of the Good Counsel tape on Twitter at #GCvsDM.  The DeMatha Football website is back up and running, so you will have to follow there from here on out.  We will do our best to keep you posted but there are no more DM Stags TV football broadcasts scheduled in 2017.

Red Deer from Rough Guides

The DeMatha Stags have had a rough start to the WCAC season so far, and they are looking for a bright spot.

[Featured Photo, RoughGuides.Com ]

 

2017 WCAC Football Preview: SNAFU

October 5, 2017

The Washington Catholic Athletic Conference is arguably the toughest high school sports association in the United States of America.

wcac_logo_600_res_

The toughest conference in America.

The WCAC has been at the forefront of ushering in a new era of recruiting that has shifted the landscape of secondary education, and football is no exception.

 

The tale of the WCAC in football, and really all the sports played is a story of the best of teams and the worst of teams.  The conference known for producing nationally ranked basketball teams in the same season is unique in that all programs at least enjoy the privilege of greatness by association.  Unlike basketball, which has exhibited relative parity over the years, WCAC football programs are worlds apart.  The schism between schools that made the unwavering commitment to compete on a national level in football and those that didn’t clearly strained the organization more than the other sports.  The result was a lopsided mess military guys call a SNAFU: systems normal all fouled up.

DeMatha, Good Counsel, Saint John’s College, and Gonzaga would all make headlines with their football programs by notching clutch wins in national upsets.  The four schools with the biggest football traditions in the WCAC continued to prosper, and all of them could be seen on national broadcasts via ESPN over the last five years.  The WCAC schools in Virginia were the first to secede and they ultimately identified football as the cause.  Bishop Ireton, Paul VI, and then Bishop O’Connell decided that they couldn’t compete with the rising talent level that all of the exposure generated for the Big Four.  Archbishop Carroll, Bishop McNamara, and Saint Mary’s Ryken were equally unnerved by the massive arms race occurring in football but hung on despite taking a lot of lumps.

The WCAC was forced to reorganize and update the rules to accommodate a stronger commissioner.  Next year they will unveil a two-tiered football schedule and they have expanded to include The Heights School, which is already competing in soccer this year.  The conference will be unified in the sport of football again, but in this interim year get ready to see more of just how we got this way in the first place.  The Big Four will continue to dominate, sometimes shuffling win and losses between each other but with seldom a loss to the other WCAC members.  The 2017 WCAC football season has already begun with Gonzaga pummeling Bishop McNamara 38-0 on Eye Street with a freshman starting at quarterback.

There just aren’t too many schools that want to face that kind of ability to reload on a yearly basis and the Mustangs (0-5) deserve some sort of award for courage.  Deeper programs like Gonzaga keep attracting Division 1 caliber players because of examples set by alumni like Kevin Hogan in the NFL.  This is just one example but the Gonzaga Purple Eagles (5-1) are still fighting to break into their first WCAC championship game since 2011.  Gonzaga is clearly a playoff team.  The Eagles were even cut off from competing for the tiny DC “state title,” but they haven’t won a WCAC football championship since 2002.  Gonzaga is our pick to finish fourth this year but if they stay healthy they can give anyone problems, for a spell.

Our Lady of Good Counsel will also be challenged to sustain their glory on the gridiron in 2017.  The WCAC’s winningest football coach Bob Milloy retired in 2016, after only the second season since 2004 in which they didn’t appear in the championship game.  Replacing legends is never easy but the Falcons (4-1), again, looked within their program and picked a gamer in head coach Andy Stephanelli.  Good Counsel is still solid and they have shocked teams in the area that might have forgotten that the Falcons were league champions in football from 2009-2012.  Still, after facing what should be the top two teams in the WCAC in the ensuing fortnight we believe that home field advantage should be enough to rattle Gonzaga on October 27.

The Saint John’s College Cadets are proof that the transition to elite status in football can come at a steep price.  SJC suffers from an identity crisis and every season that goes by seems to make it worse because they certainly sacrificed the most and have the least to show for it.  The Cadets opted to go the full-on Moneyball route, but cash hasn’t proven to be a panacea so far.  Program alumnus and Under Armour founder Kevin Plank financed a complete overhaul that included an injection of transfers and two head coaches at one point.  The Cadets have been knocking on the door in recent years with a lot of notable wins, but none against the defending WCAC champions in the last quarter century.

SJC was supposed to be overwhelming the league with their unlimited resources, but they have underachieved in WCAC football and they have to look back to the old Metro conference for their last title in 1989.  Head coach Joe Casamento is trying to change all of that by unleashing the new and improved program on the top teams in the nation but the cracks in the plan have been obvious.  The Christian Brothers are probably wondering if a 2-2 record was worth these changes but they haven’t given up the lofty expectations that they have for their football program.  School missions aside, whether or not superstar transfers can manufacture enough team chemistry for a title is the question that has relegated the Cadets to second place of late, despite attaining a national ranking in USA Today earlier this season.

The four-time defending WCAC football champion DeMatha Stags have also had a lot to do with that.  Head coach Elijah Brooks is now unquestionably the best in the league and his players desperately want to add to this budding dynasty.  The Stags lost their opening game of the season but have reeled off four straight wins since then, two of them shutouts.  The DeMatha defense hasn’t given up a score in the second half of a football game since Bishop Gorman got the better of them in August.  DeMatha (4-1) will open WCAC play against a Gonzaga team that already has three shutouts under their belt on October 6.  It is safe to say that everyone is coming for the kings of the WCAC and SJC and Good Counsel are good tests for the Stags to improve their national ranking in USA Today.

It is a long way down from the top and the rest of the WCAC will just be searching for ways to get by in football in 2017.   The faces and names might be old news but the essence of the conference is probably going to remain the same for a little while.

With a league that routinely produces heavyweights, the WCAC will realize that they were wise to err on the side of caution and let some teams sit the football slugfest out.  What we have this year are six teams competing for the WCAC trophy in football and the rest will rejoin the league next year when the new rules take effect.  DeMatha, SJC, Good Counsel, Gonzaga, McNamara, and Carroll could finish in that order during this abbreviated 2017 football season. 

It is worth writing that basketball seems to be the honey that kept Bishop Ireton, Ryken, O’Connell, and Paul VI in the WCAC hive.  (Those teams will all play independent schedules in 2017, and they won’t be in contention for a title in football this year.)  The overall risk-reward for student-athletes is better in basketball and the notoriety of the league has made it a pipeline to Division 1 schools, and beyond.  Football is still trying to find a balance in the WCAC, but the shadow of a more formidable conference is still going to bash each other with everything they have in the meanwhile.  The only thing that could stop this show is if the culture changes and WCAC football is on the rise.

As per usual, the traditional rivalry games are worth experiencing live.  The oldest, continuous football game in the country between Gonzaga and Saint John’s is on November 4.  Bishop McNamara is hosted by Archbishop Carroll on October 7.  Good Counsel will try to pull off an upset against DeMatha on Friday, October 13 at the PG Sports & Learning Complex.  Then DeMatha will travel to Saint John’s on Military Road on October 21.

Did we forget to mention that DeMatha vs Gonzaga is October 6?  We hope that you tune into DM Stags TV to check this one out free of charge on the NFHS NetworkThe Big Four are all ranked in the top ten in The Washington Post, so everyone should remember.  Follow the #WCAC hashtag on Twitter if the #DeMatha (live) hashtag is too lit.  We have you covered here at The Chronicles of Six, so always check for updates in our Sports category!  Let us keep connecting you to the reputable sources.

Undefeated DeMatha Stags Football Champions 2016

November 20, 2016

Congratulations to the 2016 DeMatha Catholic High School football team on an undefeated 12 – 0 season and WCAC championship.  The Stags won their fourth Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title in football in as many years.

Check out the highlights (including select game video) that I compiled from Twitter here: .

This time it was against the Saint John’s College High School Cadets in extraordinary fashion and the win required a never-give-up attitude and late game heroics.  SJC quarterback Kasim Hill is headed to the University of Maryland next year and will undoubtedly start on their home field in the future but he was no match for this DeMatha team.  Hill hooked up with Ed Lee for three touchdowns in the first half and it looked as if he was going to will the Cadets to victory early on when they took a 19 – 14 lead into halftime.

The answer came late for the DeMatha Stags who are usually accustomed to dispatching opponents early by demoralizing them with a bruising running game.  Without the benefit of time on their side the DeMatha football team relied on gritty play to come from behind after the Cadets eventually amassed a fifteen-point lead.  Trailing 29 – 14 in the fourth quarter the team that never quit got a break when Kasim Hill was sidelined temporarily.  A botched pitch resulted in a DeMatha recovery and a quick score to make the tally 29 – 21 in favor of SJC.

The most ironic scene of the afternoon was a video of Saint John’s students chanting, “overrated!” to the DeMatha crowd during their eventual failure to win the contest.

On the ensuing play the Saint John’s head coach Joe Casamento, commanded the Cadets to defend against an onside kick but failed to plan for the deep kick.  The DeMatha special team unit recovered the ball at the SJC 1 yard line as it rolled untouched after a footrace between the aware and unawares.  DeMatha quarterback Beau English threw a short strike to honor man #10 Anthony Toro and suddenly the Stags were back in business.  DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks sensed the momentum shift and opted to go for two but the conversion failed.

With the score at 29 – 27 the vaunted DeMatha defense came up big and forced a punt.  The Stags offense matched the phenomenal efforts of their counterparts by marching down the field and scoring again on a fade route to the running back Myles Miree.  After kicking the extra point this time Coach Brooks must have thought that the DeMatha football team already had all the makings of a win.  With the score 34 – 29 with only 1:05 left to play he wouldn’t have very long to contemplate it.  Myles Canton intercepted Kasim Hill on what would be the last play of the game and returned it all the way back to the SJC 1 yard line.

Calvin Ashley, a highly recruited offensive lineman for Saint John’s went down with an injury that left him unresponsive for a short period.  There were 29 seconds remaining on the clock when the game was decidedly over and both teams retired in prayer for the Auburn commit.  34 – 29 would be the final score and DeMatha completed one of the most memorable comebacks in school history with the total effort of their football team.

There are just too many football Stags to name and not enough time to give them all justice, but it will suffice to say that this is one of the finest sports teams that DeMatha has ever had.  In addition to notching multiple historic superlatives the 2016 DeMatha football team should also garner consideration for a share of a mythical national title with their unblemished record.  Their magnificent performance is rare when you consider their strength of schedule and conference format.  DeMatha took everybody’s best shot this year and achieved greatness by consistently rising to the occasion as a team.

A collection of individuals, no matter how talented, couldn’t beat this team.  Even when the odds were the longest and football fans were headed towards the exits, the 2016 DeMatha team showed that they were prepared to overcome adversity.  Coach Brooks should be proud that his DeMatha football team could do it in a way that is both reflective of the school and aligned with the ideals that the prestigious conference is supposed to stand for.  The WCAC might be headed for restructuring in football with a more powerful commissioner about to take the reins for the first time but DeMatha is already in great hands.

In a world where even high school sports are experiencing the influences of big money and corporate donors, Coach Brooks still managed to do things the DeMatha way and win.  Chalk another one up for the DeMatha Stags that bought into the system and toughed it out to keep the WCAC football championship trophy in Hyattsville.  The 2016 DeMatha football team certainly lived up to all of the hype and a celebration is surely in order.

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)

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.

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.