As the scoreboard indicated, the Colts’ offense wasn’t firing on all cylinders, but their defense dominated in the trenches and regularly got into the Indians’ backfield. Coolidge (7-5) recorded eight tackles for loss, none more important than when senior Jabari Johnson denied Anacostia (9-3) a game-tying two-point conversion in the second overtime.
“When I saw [Anacostia running back Jamare Glasker] put his head down and start running toward the end zone like he was going to score, I knew that I had to step up and make something shake before they tried to tie this thing up and take the momentum,” Johnson said. “So I just lined up a good angle then threw my body at him, and we came away with the [win].”
Over four scoreless quarters and the first overtime, neither team seemed capable of getting out of its own way: Costly penalties ended some drives early and prolonged others. In the second overtime, the Colts ended the stalemate on Johnson’s six-yard touchdown grab, followed by a two-point conversion catch by their leading receiver and Stripes division MVP, Tiyahn Pelham.
The Indians refused to let Pelham beat them, as he had done in the teams’ first meeting, by double-teaming and sometimes even triple-teaming him. On the touchdown, Coolidge senior quarterback Dizhaun Hancock tossed a wobbly pass over the outstretched hands of a defender to Johnson, who made a diving catch.
On the ensuing drive, Anacostia quarterback Jalen Webb-Starkey connected with Eric Walker for a six-yard score to make it 8-6, but Johnson made the winning stop to end it.
“I told [my teammates] that we came too far to lose this game and that we all had to step up in overtime and get this win,” Pelham said. “That’s exactly what happened, too. [Hancock] made a great throw, Jabari made a winning catch and tackle, and now we’re champs.”
Not only did Coolidge secure its first DCIAA championship since beating H.D. Woodson in the 1986 Turkey Bowl, but the Colts also will have an opportunity to help Nesbitt move past a loss that he suffered in the 2018 D.C. State Athletic Association Class A championship game while coaching at Kingsman Academy. Kingsman fell to Bell last season; Coolidge will face Maret in the 2019 title game on Saturday.
“Coming into this season, no one outside of this locker room really believed that we would be able to compete, let alone win the whole thing,” Nesbitt said. “To come in here and truly change this program’s outlook in Year One feels so good, but we aren’t done yet. There’s one more trophy to get.”
Before Nesbitt’s arrival, Coolidge had gone through five coaches in six years and hadn’t eclipsed three wins since 2011, when it reached the Turkey Bowl under former coach Natalie Randolph.
“This means so much to us, man,” Hancock said through tears. “You always hear that championships are a team effort, and tonight we saw that firsthand. This is a moment that no one can ever take from us, no matter what.”