Good Counsel finds its footing after frustrating start to the season


This season has been far from typical for Good Counsel, but the Falcons are rounding into form just in time for the playoffs. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

For as charmed as the previous four years had been for Good Counsel, a stretch marked by a clean sweep of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference titles, lengthy win streaks and dozens of Football Bowl Subdivision recruits, most of the Falcons would probably say their current season has felt the most surreal.

From the first game, when standout running back Leo Ekwoge was lost to a season-ending knee injury, to the late September stretch that saw the Falcons’ first conference loss in three years and first losing streak in more than a decade, the nightmare sequence mercilessly unfolded.

“It was very surreal and just different,” said junior defensive lineman Darius Fullwood, who has missed the last six games with a broken foot. “We were just going down like dominoes and losing. We know we’re not a [6-4] type team. We feel like we’re an 8-2 or 9-1 team, but a lot of things didn’t go our way.”

Saturday marked a high point in Good Counsel’s roller-coaster season, as the Falcons beat O’Connell, 35-10, to secure the fourth and final spot in the WCAC playoffs.

The semifinals will take place on Sunday, Nov. 10 at the University of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium with Gonzaga taking on St. John’s at noon and Good Counsel facing top-ranked DeMatha at 4 p.m. The winners of each game will face off in the championship Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. at Byrd Stadium.

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the weekend of football in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

Shades of the Falcons’ ability surfaced this past Saturday in Chris Dawson, who rushed for a career-high 231 yards, and a defense that held the Knights to just 48 yards, forced a turnover and recorded three sacks.

“They played hard and we’re happy to still be breathing and keep playing,” Falcons Coach Bob Milloy said. “I’ve never turned in my stuff before Halloween, and I didn’t want to start this season, so we’re happy we got in the postseason. All three teams in the playoffs beat us, so it’s going to be tough, but we’ve got no complaints and no excuses. It’s a brand new season now.”

With a bye this week, Good Counsel will have some extra time to prepare for DeMatha, which beat the Falcons, 21-0, earlier this season. Since then, Falcons quarterback Andres Castillo has grown more comfortable in his starting role, star defensive end Jesse Aniebonam returned last week after suffering a neck injury and Dawson has excelled since moving from fullback to his natural position of running back.

“I did what I had to do for the team when Leo went down in the first game, and playing fullback did help me with my blocking, but running back is where I’m most comfortable,” said Dawson, who has 977 yards on the year. “Our sophomore fullback John Wanat is doing a great job, and I feel like we’re starting to find our identity on offense and get back our rhythm on defense.”

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