On a Good Counsel defense loaded with three other linebackers that hold Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, it’s easy for senior Marcel Ngachie to get lost in the shuffle. His relatively small size doesn’t help in that regard, either.
But as the Falcons head into Friday’s matchup against DeMatha, Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy said no defensive player on his team is more crucial to its success than Ngachie, a two-star recruit who holds offers from Virginia, Syracuse and Hawaii.
Ngachie “is very explosive,” Milloy said. “He’s only about 5-9, 5-10, and I guess he kind of gets lost behind the defensive linemen and everything. But when he sees an opening, he reacts to it.”
Through five games this season, Ngachie leads Good Counsel in tackles with 24.5. Fellow senior linebacker Dorian O’Daniel – who is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 5 outside linebacker in the Class of 2013 and who has orally committed to Clemson – stands tied for third on the team in tackles with 17.5.
Facing DeMatha’s stable of talented running backs, the Falcons will need solid performances from Ngachie and O’Daniel, among others, in an attempt to make the Stags one-dimensional. Milloy called DeMatha junior tailback Mark Allen (5-7, 185) “quick as a dart. He gets behind them big guys, and it’s hard to find him.”
Meantime, Stags sophomore tailback Taiwan Deal (6-2, 226) “just runs you over. He reminds me of [former Good Counsel and current Maryland tailback] Wes Brown a little bit,” Milloy said.
But Milloy has ample reason to be confident his defense has the tools necessary to contain DeMatha’s potent offense. A combined 17 players on the Good Counsel and DeMatha rosters currently possess FBS offers, and 10 of those players are Falcons. Ngachie, a three-year starter who wears No. 2, is one of them, though he is perhaps the most inconspicuous of the bunch.
Ngachie “is the unknown, quiet guy,” Milloy said. “He’s probably our top guy on defense. . . . I think he’s kind of the leader over there amongst the kids. He’s just a guy that you sort of don’t notice, and then all of the sudden, bang, there’s a nine-yard loss, and No. 2 is standing there.”
Bullis Coach Pat Cilento had one of the best running backs in the region last fall in Kevin Jones, who led the area in rushing for much of the season and eventually chose to continue his career at Furman University in South Carolina.
Cilento knew he had a horse in waiting, however, and he didn’t hesitate to call upon sophomore Devonte Williams to replace Jones when fall camp opened. It was a risky move; with just one senior offensive lineman and a roster full of raw players, starting a 15-year-old in the run-first offense had the chance to be disastrous.
But Williams is different. His speed is lauded, and his pedigree puts Cilento at ease. His father Isaac, a former star at Springbrook, is an assistant at Wheaton, where he serves under his brother and Devonte’s uncle, Ernie Williams. And the family counts former NFL player and Virginia native Shawn Springs a close family friend, someone Devonte refers to as an “uncle.”
“I talked to him last week,” Williams said. “He just tells me to stay humble and stay focused, and everything will fall into place.”
Williams has been a pleasant surprise for undefeated Bullis (4-0) this season, a player who Cilento said “is going to be special.” He might already be just that. Williams has gotten a large percentage of touches in the first four games; Cilento handed him the ball 10 times in the first game against St. Mary’s Ryken, and Williams scored touchdowns on three of the carries. He has scored in every game since, and in the past three weeks he has ran for 335 yards on 57 carries. His young body hasn’t broken down either, and Cilento has finally found the proper lineup on the offensive line, which includes Western Michigan recruit Peter Angeh and the highly touted junior tackle Justin Herron.
“This might be the biggest and fastest teams that I’ve ever had. One of the problems we’re having is getting everyone to jell,” Cilento said. “It always helps to have those big guys up front. One thing that Devonte brings is a lot of speed.”
Bullis will get a stiff test Friday evening against the WCAC’s McNamara, which has a fair share of talent on the defensive line. Williams, who Cilento said has a scholarship offer from Western Michigan, has noticed the last three weeks that teams have made adjustments to shut him down in the second half, but none have loaded the box with eight defenders to begin the game. He doesn’t expect McNamara to, either.
“This is a big week for us. I know they have a lot of speed. That defensive line has four division one players,” Williams said. “We can’t get ahead of ourselves.”