Good Counsel 21,

O'Connell 6

Reprinted from yesterday's late editions

Good Counsel senior running back Stephen Salkeld and his teammates had to wait a year to prove that they deserved to be in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs. Friday night, they made up for lost time as Salkeld rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown and defensive end Erik Carter had two sacks to lead the Falcons to a 21-6 victory over O'Connell in a first-round game in Wheaton.

"Our goal all year has been to make it to the final four," said Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy, whose team missed out on a postseason berth last season by virtue of a coin flip. "After what happened to us last year, we were hungry and we wanted to something about it. ... I thought we played well on defense and Salkeld did what he's been doing all year for us."

Good Counsel advanced to play the winner of Saturday's game between No. 10 DeMatha and Carroll in a semifinal next weekend.

Salkeld, without question, was the Falcons' best player on a night when miscues and turnovers by both teams disrupted the game's flow. Not only did Salkeld carry the ball 28 times and score a touchdown early in the second quarter, he kept alive crucial drives with his tenacious running and helped the Falcons maintain possession and run out the clock.

"At first we weren't able to move the ball at all against them, but then things just started to open up," Salkeld said. "I owe a lot to my offensive line. They did a great job. . . . Now we're just looking forward to keeping our season going."

After Good Counsel (5-3) opened a 14-0 lead, O'Connell, behind the play of running back Jeremy Trimble (107 yards on 15 carries), cut the deficit to 14-6 on a 25-yard fumble return by linebacker Steve Smith. The Knights managed to keep themselves within striking distance until early in the final quarter when Good Counsel's offense finally wore them down. Devin McKnight secured the victory with a 19-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6. O'Connell (3-5) never recovered.

"We made a lot of mistakes," Trimble said. "We came out strong, but put the ball on the field and it just went downhill from there. . . . The game was a lot closer than the score showed."

Because WCAC teams had three games canceled last month, the conference opted for an eight-team tournament in which each team plays three times. O'Connell falls to the losers' bracket. In previous years, the WCAC has held a four-team, single-elimination playoff.

"When we missed the playoffs by a coin flip last year, we remember how disappointed we were," said Carter, who also rushed for 62 yards on three carries. "We just wanted a chance to prove ourselves."

Good Counsel opened the scoring at the end of the first quarter on a well-timed, 17-yard screen pass to Robert Silk from quarterback Reggie Gooch for a 7-0 lead. O'Connell fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Good Counsel struck moments later on a two-yard run by Salkeld.

Stephen Salkeld, who rushed for 153 yards on 28 carries, bears down on O'Connell's Jeremy Trimble (2). Good Counsel advanced to semifinals.