Good Counsel Hungry for WCAC Title Win Over DeMatha

DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor and Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy talk about the rivalry between their two football teams and Saturday night's meeting for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. Video by Atkinson & Co.
By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some high school football players and coaches prefer not to think about the past -- or, at the very least, won't admit to doing so. That would seem to be the case with Good Counsel, which has lost to DeMatha in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship game each of the past four seasons.

Then there is Good Counsel standout running back Caleb Porzel, who starred in the top-ranked Falcons' 42-21 victory over DeMatha in the teams' regular season meeting. Porzel, who would like nothing more than to end the title-game losing streak and help his team win its first league championship, doesn't mind reflecting.

"I think about it from getting to school at 9 o'clock in the morning until I get home at 10," Porzel said, acknowledging that last weekend he started his recent history lesson by watching tapes of recent Good Counsel-DeMatha games. "That's pretty much what I'm thinking about when I'm talking to [teammate] Jelani [Jenkins] or other guys, that I could have done this different or that different. There are a lot of things that we think about and reminisce on, including the atmosphere of the game and the fans, which have been great."

When Good Counsel and 11th-ranked DeMatha meet tonight in Annapolis in this year's WCAC championship game, more of the same is expected: a large crowd and an exciting game filled with top college prospects. But after four years of heartbreak -- the four title games have been decided by a total of 13 points -- the Falcons are eager to finally break through. As one person familiar with the teams and their recent encounters said, "If they're finally going to win, this is the year."

"This year is the year we could do it for everyone," Porzel said. "I actually had a conversation with [Good Counsel's 2005 All-Met Defensive Player of the Year] Akeem Hebron on Facebook over the weekend. He was giving me words of inspiration."

Not that the Falcons (11-0) need much motivation. They know what has transpired the past few years. The current seniors were eighth-graders in 2004 when an errant option pitch spoiled a late scoring opportunity in a 30-29 loss, spoiling what had been an undefeated season. In 2005, a missed point-after kick in overtime proved to be the difference. In 2006, there was the fumbled snap in overtime. Last season, in a 12-7 loss, Good Counsel failed to score after Porzel's 71-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

"It's hard to forget about those games," Jenkins said. "We're trying to forget about them. We know we've come close a lot, but we just have to finish the deal."

As part of the buildup leading up to tonight's game, Good Counsel assistant coach Bernie Dancel has handed out newspaper clippings from some of the past losses, asking the players "to just reflect on what has happened and what we think we want to happen," Porzel said.

"From my standpoint, I would like to be in [DeMatha's] position," Porzel said. "Because reading their stories, winning a championship is really big and that's what we're trying to do. We'd like to have that story in our place instead of theirs."

Porzel ran all over DeMatha (9-2) earlier this season, scoring three touchdowns in the first quarter, but DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said his team has improved in winning its six games since then. Since the WCAC began conducting a postseason tournament in 1991, the Stags are 31-4 in playoff games, winning 13 league titles.

"Our goal, as always, is to win the WCAC football championship," McGregor said. "To do that, you have to get there. We have a pretty good spirit about playing in championship games. I think our kids play big in big games and look forward to the challenge of playing big in big games."

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