Good Counsel weathered a season-opening loss in Las Vegas and pulled out three wins by four points or fewer in finishing as The Post’s No. 1 team for the fourth consecutive season, a feat no Washington area high school football team has accomplished in recent decades, if ever.
The fact that there were so many narrow victories over highly regarded teams made the final No. 1 ranking all the more satisfying to Good Counsel Coach Bob Milloy, whose team won its fourth straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title.
Seneca Valley finished No. 1 for three consecutive years, from 1997-99, sharing the top spot with Robinson in 1997.
“Just to win your own league four years in a row is special,” Milloy said, “but to be ranked No. 1 out of 250-some schools and to do that wire-to-wire [three] years, that’s not easy to do.”
The Falcons (11-1) opened the season with a 27-22 loss at Bishop Gorman (Nev.), a team that later won a fourth consecutive Division I state title and as of last week was ranked No. 10 in USA Today, one spot ahead of Good Counsel.
The week after the Las Vegas trip, the Falcons edged Gilman, ranked 19th nationally, 20-19 in overtime. Then came a 14-10 win over St. Joseph’s of Montvale, the eventual Non-Public Group 3 champion in New Jersey and the top-ranked team in the Newark Star-Ledger’s statewide poll.
“Could there be three harder teams to open up with in the whole country?” Milloy said.
“Last year’s team, it really came easy for them,” Milloy said of a 2012 graduating class that included about 20 players who received offers to play in college. “They were so talented that all I had to do was kind of get them in a game and pretty much they took over from there. We just had to work a lot harder this year. This year we had a lot of injuries, one of the worst cases in memory, but somebody else just found a way and got the boat to shore.”
No. 2 Wise, No. 3 Briar Woods and No. 4 River Hill all finished unbeaten and won state titles, the third in a row for Briar Woods in Virginia AA Division 4 and the second straight for River Hill in Maryland 3A.
Good Counsel will say goodbye to several college-bound players, among them defensive back-wide receiver Kendall Fuller (Virginia Tech), running back-linebacker Dorian O’Daniel (Clemson), quarterback-punter Brendan Marshall (Virginia), wide receiver-defensive back Kirk Garner (Virginia) and linebackers Darien Carr (Harvard) and Marcel Ngachie (undecided).
But the Falcons will return six starters on offense — four linemen (including WCAC first-teamer Sam Mustipher), a receiver and a fullback — and three linemen and two safeties on defense.
Good Counsel’s nonleague schedule for next season is not set, other than facing Gilman. That leaves three open dates that Milloy is eager to fill.
“If anybody out there is looking for a game,” he said, “we’re available.”