As Good Counsel's football players returned to practice Monday following their wrenching 22-21 loss to third-ranked DeMatha, they gathered around Coach Bob Milloy, who was curious how his team would respond after such a disheartening defeat.

The 19th-ranked Falcons seemed to have the game won until a bizarre finish allowed the Stags a second chance to kick a game-winning field goal. Now, entering the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs, Milloy is concerned about the loss affecting his team's preparations for tonight's semifinal against St. John's.

"We have a whole new season," Milloy said. "It was a bitter pill, a tough loss, but if we dwell on it we're going to get beat again. . . . But I haven't seen it. I think they realize that's a part of life and we have to move on."

Good Counsel (7-3) won the team's regular season meeting, 35-0, on Sept. 23, but must regroup for the playoffs. St John's (6-4) enters with a four-game winning streak.

In the other semifinal, DeMatha plays Gonzaga tomorrow at Parkdale High. Running back Pat Mealy scored five touchdowns in the Stags' 34-7 victory over Gonzaga during the regular season. And though DeMatha was challenged in league play only by Good Counsel and Gonzaga enters the postseason with three losses in its past four games, Stags Coach Bill McGregor is cautious.

"The big thing is just coming out and playing your game and playing well," McGregor said.

-- Josh Barr

Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy prepares his team for St. John's following a heartbreaking 22-21 loss to third-ranked DeMatha. "It was a bitter pill, a tough loss, but if we dwell on it we're going to get beat again," he said.