As his Ballou teammates jumped around him, some jawing with the Friendship Collegiate cheerleaders and others hugging anyone who passed by, Romeo Leftwich lay on the field at Georgetown, staring blankly at the sky.
The senior had just spent Saturday evening blocking for an offense that produced 368 yards and rampaging through No. 7 Friendship Collegiate’s backfield to lead a defensive line that had seven sacks in a 39-28 victory.
His exhaustion exemplified the hustle the Knights have preached in the days since their Turkey Bowl victory, and Leftwich’s reaction — sheer excitement once he stood — added to No. 20 Ballou’s celebration of a first D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA championship in the team’s first appearance.
“Ain’t nobody believe in us, and we had to prove it to the city,” Leftwich said. “Now we’re state champions, and they can’t say anything.”
While Leftwich was the MVP in the Knights’ D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association victory on Thanksgiving — a 21-14 win against an H.D. Woodson team missing 17 players to suspension — quarterback Terrlonta Buchanan earned the honor Saturday after he had a hand in all six of Ballou’s touchdowns.
He helped the Knights open a 12-0 lead in the first quarter with a rushing and a passing touchdown. While Friendship Collegiate (8-4), last year’s DCSAA champion, responded with three touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 22-18 halftime lead, Leftwich and Buchanan ensured Ballou (9-4) didn’t waver.
Buchanan felt Friendship Collegiate’s linebackers were a step slower than him, so he pulled the ball down to rush — finishing with 76 yards on the ground — whenever his passing options weren’t open. And Leftwich, focused on getting Friendship Collegiate quarterback Dyson Smith out of the pocket and out of rhythm, went “power rush” almost every snap on defense.
“We came out fast, hard and physical,” Leftwich said. “It ain’t about how we started, it’s how we finished, and we finished out with a good win.”
By the time Ballou sealed the victory, when the Knights chased Coach Minoso Rodgers around the sideline to dump the water cooler on him, Buchanan finished 15 for 22 for 261 yards and two passing touchdowns. He also had three rushing touchdowns, with a fourth score credited to Leftwich after he recovered a fumble at the goal line.
“I have no special magic. It’s just straight skill,” Buchanan said, next to his mom, Angellee Spears, who clutched his MVP trophy. “I just do what my coaches call in, and we just execute the play.”
Rodgers, meanwhile, didn’t stop smiling as he claimed the Knights’ trophy and received congratulations from seemingly everyone on the field.
That included the Friendship Collegiate players, too.
Rodgers was an assistant coach at Friendship Collegiate from 2008 to 2015 and took the lead at Ballou this season. As the teams shook hands, many of the Friendship Collegiate players told Rodgers they were pleased he earned the trophy, if they couldn’t win another.
“Those guys, they wanted it,” Rodgers said. “But they knew how bad I wanted it.”