Entering the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs, Paul VI Catholic never had scored on or beaten conference members Gonzaga and DeMatha. But the Fairfax school claimed its first WCAC championship by beating Gonzaga, 14-11, in the semifinals, and stunning then-No. 3 DeMatha, 23-10, in the final on Saturday at RFK Stadium.
The 13-point margin of defeat was the largest for DeMatha (10-1-1) since a 28-14 loss to Gonzaga in October 1993. The Stags had won six of the past eight conference titles and entered the game with a 24-game unbeaten streak, including two victories over Paul VI by a combined 105-0.
"This was something we had worked for as a team since last November, when DeMatha beat us [62-0] in the playoffs," Panthers senior starting linebacker Tom Hoover said.
"When we stopped them on their first drive [on Saturday] it was a huge confidence boost. I think they came in expecting to win, while we wanted to win. Afterwards, we all went crazy in the locker room. Some of the guys were in a state of shock."
Both teams can expect to be competitive again next year. The Panthers (9-3-1) will bring back junior running back-linebacker Jerry Robertson, who was named the game's most valuable player after he rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown and had a sack on defense. Robertson also sang the national anthem before the game.
Other expected returnees include juniors Nick Gallagher, the team's leading tackler, leading rusher Andre Eason and starting tight end-defensive end Tyree Spinner.
DeMatha is expected to have Anthony Riley (2,064 yards rushing this season) and starting quarterback Brian Jones, both juniors, and sophomore running back Elijah Brooks back. Brooks had a team-high 80 yards and one touchdown on five carries in the title game.
Mike Skinner is the first-year coach at No. 8 Centreville of Clifton. His son Andy is a senior offensive tackle for No. 3 Park View of Sterling.
They are each other's biggest fan. But they do not always get to cheer for each other because of conflicting game times. That was evident Saturday afternoon when both schools played their biggest games of the season--Centreville played Lake Braddock at W.T. Woodson, and Park View hosted Charlottesville. Both games were scheduled for 1:30.
Father and son were elated to learn when they got home that both had been successful. Centreville defeated Lake Braddock, 21-17, and claimed its second straight AAA Northern Region Division 6 title. Park View extended its winning streak to 18 by defeating Charlottesville, 56-22, in the AA Region 2 Division 4 title game.
Interestingly, Mike Skinner has never coached his son.
"I'm a big believer in not coaching your own kid," Mike said. "To be honest, I think I am better off if I do not coach him. They have great coaches at Park View. I think it's important for him to be with his friends and to let him do his own thing.
"But I do enjoy watching him play. Any time we are not playing, I go to see him play. I'm just like any other parent."
Said Andy Skinner: "I've learned a lot from my dad. It's pretty neat. He knows a lot about the game. We don't usually talk much about my games. We talk more about things like leadership and small things.
"But I think it's a good idea I don't play on his team," Andy added. "I want to make a name for myself."
No. 16 Dunbar (8-3-1) will defend its D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association title against No. 19 Eastern (8-3) in the 30th annual Turkey Bowl on Thursday. Kickoff is 11 a.m. at Eastern.
This game likely will be decided on the ground, as both teams feature run-heavy offenses and dominant running backs. Senior James Lynch, who has unofficially committed to Maryland, leads Dunbar's ground attack, and Lawrence Wade leads Eastern.
In Saturday's playoff openers for both teams, each turned in impressive performances. Wade rushed for 308 yards and four touchdowns in a 54-24 victory over Wilson, and Lynch ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns in Dunbar's 28-20 victory over H.D. Woodson.
Dialing Up Lalli
Ireton senior running back Brian Lalli's career began with a phone call and some begging. It ended with his being named the most valuable player for the South team in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference All-Star Game at RFK Stadium on Saturday.
Lalli rushed for 79 yards on nine carries and returned a kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown to help the South to a 17-10 victory over the North. Lalli transferred to Ireton last summer after spending his first three years at Seton School in Manassas, which does not have a football team.
But the move came only after Brian's brother Mike--the coach at Ireton--persuaded their mother to let him transfer and play football.
"I am so glad that I was able to play football, but winning the [two-foot tall MVP] trophy is really like a dream," Brian Lalli said. "I will wake up and see that trophy and wonder, 'Where did that come from? Did this really happen?' "
McNamara's Michael Warfield (five receptions, 125 yards) was named the North's MVP. . . .
Seneca Valley is ranked No. 25 in the latest USA Today national rankings released on Nov. 16. The Screaming Eagles are the only area team ranked in the top 25. . . . Senior Dan Remsburg made a 24-yard field goal and was perfect on five extra-point attempts in No. 8 Eleanor Roosevelt's 52-6 victory over Patterson on Saturday in a Maryland 4A semifinal.
Staff writer Camille Powell also contributed to this report.
HOW THE SCREAMING EAGLES STACK UP
Longest all-time Maryland public school winning streaks
School Years Games
1.City-Baltimore 1934-1941 *54
2.Howard 1971-1975 **47
3.Seneca Valley 1997-present 38
4.Richard Montgomery 1966-1969 34
5.Seneca Valley 1975-1978 31
*Baltimore schools did not join the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association until 1993.
**The state tournament began in 1974.
Longest current area winning streaks
School Began Games
1.Seneca Valley 1997 38
2.Hylton 1997 28
3.Park View 1998 18
4.Culpeper 1999 12
5.Thomas Stone 1999 12