In the midst of his seventh season in 2013, Bishop Ireton football coach Anthony Verducci is already the longest tenured coach in the history of Cardinals football.
“[That no one's lasted more than seven years] says something about why we don’t have much of a history,” said Verducci of his team, which reverted to a disappointing 1-9 record in 2012 after the best season of Verducci’s tenure — 8-3 with a 7-0 start — in 2011.
But Verducci wants to put Ireton back on the D.C. prep football map.
So when the attorney-by-day vetted his candidates for defensive coordinator, he did so carefully; the man who got the job — former University of Virginia star Jerton Evans — came with some pretty impressive character references.
“One of his references was Al Golden, head coach at the University of Miami,” Verducci said. “I got a phenomenal voicemail from Coach Golden telling me that however many people I might be considering, I should just stop and hire Jerton.”
That was also the message from former Super Bowl champion and 1998 ACC Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Poindexter who now coaches safeties at Virginia. Poindexter played with Evans in the Cavaliers’ defensive backfield in 1999. That year, Evans was named a freshman All-America, and recorded 44 tackles, the most by a freshman in school history. He went on to be a four-year letter winner and earn brief shots with the Bills, Chargers, and with Cologne in NFL Europe.
Verducci said Evans brings a “high-energy, aggressive” approach to a Cardinals’ defense that has plenty of talent to build around, highlighted by linebacker Hudson Sullivan, who’s received offers from James Madison, Delaware, and Richmond. It was in talking to coaches about Sullivan that Verducci spoke to Poindexter and found out about Evans’s availability in the first place.
Evans’s defense did not allow an offensive score in its 21-2 season-opening win over Loudon County’s Park View (0-10 in 2012) Friday. And while that effort sparked the Cardinals to their first home win since 2011, Saturday’s 2 p.m. matchup with O’Connell will be the true measuring stick for the level of reality in the Cardinals’ hopes of climbing to the the upper echelon of area private school football in the near future.
O’Connell, one of two WCAC teams on Ireton’s schedule, won 41-0 over Paul VI last week in a game that saw standout wide receiver Marquis Rowe catch two touchdowns and four passes for 124 yards.
Slowing Rowe will be a crucial component to the success of Evans’s defensive scheme Saturday, but doing so won’t be easy. Rowe is one of the best wideouts in the conference, and has received offers from Duke, James Madison, and Virginia.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 3
The number of goals scored by the defending WCAC runner-up DeMatha men’s soccer team in a season opening shutout win over Maret Tuesday — the same score by which they beat the Frogs to open their season last year. Gonzaga, the team that beat DeMatha for the title to end the Stags’ 62-game win streak, took a 4-2 win over Loyola-Blakefield in its opener yesterday.
– New turf fields at Herndon and South Lakes High Schools were vandalized earlier this week, a few days before Friday’s scheduled home openers for both schools
– Hayfield QB Ellis Knudson and Lee RB Michael Jolly made their college choices over the past week, opting for Football Championship Series schools.
Check out this weekend’s top football plays from around the DMV:
WHAT TO WATCH FOR TODAY:
Girls’ Soccer: Good Counsel at Spalding, 4 pm
The defending WCAC champs head to Severn to take on a Spalding team that took home the MIAA A Class Maryland title in 2012. Spalding lost two of its leading scorers from that title run in Madelaine Ostrowski and Kelly Patterson, but return keeper Cassidy Babin, who held off McDonough in penalty kicks in the final. Good Counsel will also be missing scorers from its title run, namely Midge Purce, last year’s All-Met Girls’ Soccer Player of the Year, who is off to Harvard after graduating in June.