Dunbar 46, Ballou 0
As the Dunbar players lined up to shake the hands of their opponents after their 46-0 nondistrict victory over Ballou, Brandon Gilbeaux was not hard to spot. The senior stood out not only because of his mud-stained jersey, but it was also the first time that his 6-foot-3, 243-pound frame had gotten a breather.
With injuries to key teammates, Gilbeaux dominated the Knights at fullback and roamed on defense at both linebacker and defensive end to lead the Crimson Tide (2-2) to its 11th consecutive victory over host Ballou (2-3). Gilbeaux scored two touchdowns and finished with four tackles. He also provided key blocks for junior running back Jerry Johnson, who rushed for 226 yards on 20 carries and three touchdowns.
"He's been with the program for three years, works hard and is smart," said Dunbar Coach Craig Jefferies about Gilbeaux. "He does what we tell him to do. I wish I could have five of him, because I would play them all."
Gilbeaux and Johnson set the tone early for the Crimson Tide. On Dunbar's first possession, Johnson gained 39 yards on a run. Then quarterback Nathan Bussey connected on a 34-yard pass to James McDonald. Gilbeaux finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run for a 6-0 lead.
Later in the first quarter, Alphonzo Weatherspoon recovered a Ballou fumble at the Dunbar 47-yard line. The Crimson Tide capped a three-play, 53-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Johnson for a 12-0 lead. Dunbar took a 34-0 lead into halftime on Johnson's second touchdown run of the half.
"It was a lot of work," Gilbeaux said. "This is the first time that I've played so many positions."
Ballou Coach Noel Cyrus has made no secret that he would like to emulate the success of the Dunbar program. But every time it appears that the Southeast Washington school is closing the gap, the Knights seem to take a step back.
At the start of season, senior quarterback Nico Scott transferred to Eleanor Roosevelt in Greenbelt. Then, standout senior running back James Martin was suspended indefinitely from the team. Ballou also lost rising senior running back James Richardson, who was fatally shot last spring. "They are the DCIAA champions, and they came out to play," Cyrus said. "We played toe-to-toe early with them. But their experience took over down the stretch. They played this game at a higher level [than] we were."