By Josh Barr
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 22, 2010; 3:35 AM
Having dismantled their opponent in nearly every facet, sixth-ranked Good Counsel's star players took their time posing with the three-foot-tall Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship trophy.
Just a year ago, the Falcons had never won a league title in school history. Now, they have two - the latest in more-than-convincing fashion. Quarterback Zach Dancel rushed for one touchdown and threw three touchdown passes to wide receiver Stefon Diggs as Good Counsel handed fifth-ranked DeMatha its worst loss in more than 50 years, 42-3, before a crowd of 8,000 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis on Sunday.
"It's a wonderful feeling," Diggs said after taking several pictures with Dancel and fellow standouts Blake Countess and Vincent Croce. "Two-peat, we call it. Next year, we're going for a three-peat."
It was difficult to say which was more surprising - that Good Counsel won so easily or that DeMatha struggled so mightily. After all, the Stags have been the Washington area's most dominant program for some time and had won the teams' regular season meeting, 31-28, on Oct. 8, starting a six-game winning streak.
But after DeMatha took an early 3-0 lead on Michael Branthover's 21-yard field goal, it was all Good Counsel as the Falcons outscored their two postseason opponents by a combined 86-3.
Dancel outraced the secondary for a 61-yard touchdown on a quarterback draw. In the second quarter, Diggs turned a simple hitch pattern into a 50-yard touchdown pass, eluding two defenders without being touched. Then, in the waning seconds of the half, Dancel rolled to his right to buy more time and lofted a pass over two defenders to an open Diggs, who jogged in for a 32-yard score.
Although he had just three carries for 18 yards at halftime, running back Wes Brown received plenty of credit for the Falcons' 21-3 halftime lead. The standout junior had missed the team's first game because of a sprained ankle. And while Good Counsel relied on its passing game early on Sunday, the Falcons (10-2) felt that things were open because Brown required attention from the defense. He finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.
"Getting Wes back is pretty big because he's an inside threat and we could put Stefon back where he belongs," Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy said, noting that Diggs often played tailback while Brown was sidelined most of the season. "Our quarterback played well. And you've got to give the defense a lot of credit. They got kicked around the first time."
There were no such problems Sunday as the loser of the teams' regular season game came back to beat the other in the league championship game for the fourth consecutive year. Croce, a linebacker, led a defensive unit that intercepted three passes and held the Stags (9-3) to a field goal on their only drive deep into Good Counsel territory.
The only thing in doubt was the final score; not everyone on the DeMatha sideline was pleased when Good Counsel ran a reverse and threw three passes on its final drive, capped by Dancel's 19-yard touchdown pass to Diggs with 1 Â½ minutes left. Milloy said that play was supposed to be a fullback dive but that DeMatha's defensive alignment prompted the Falcons to pass.
"Good Counsel dominated all aspects of the game," said DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor, whose team finished short of 10 victories for the first time since 2002. "I feel bad for the seniors going out this way."