For the ninth time in the last 11 seasons, DeMatha and Good Counsel will meet in Saturday’s Washington Catholic Athletic Conference football championship. The matchup has become a November staple of sorts, with the two teams having combined to win the last 11 conference titles.
But just two months ago, it appeared the book may have already closed on writing another championship chapter in this storied rivalry. Defending champ DeMatha had stumbled to a 1-2 start against a tough out-of-state slate, while Good Counsel, devoid of its usual stable of high-profile Football Bowl Subdivision I recruits, was shut out in what Falcons Coach Bob Milloy deemed an “embarassing” 20-0 loss to Gilman.
Since then, both teams have returned to their usual course, culminating with Saturday’s much-anticipated contest between No. 1 Good Counsel (10-1) and No. 7 Dematha (7-3) at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
“We work hard and we have a saying that other teams aren’t built like us,” DeMatha junior defender Shane Simmons said. “We push ourselves and keep going when other teams might break down.”
“This year I think changed a lot of people’s view of us, because it looked like things might go downhill after last season,” Good Counsel defensive lineman Darius Fullwood said of the Falcons’ turnaround from their 6-5 mark in 2013. “We won a lot of tough games and really grew as a team. It’s always a classic game when we play DeMatha, and we’re glad to be back in this position.”
This year’s outcome is likely to be determined by which team is most durable in the trenches. DeMatha’s run game is powered by capable playmakers in Lorenzo Harrison and Anthony McFarland and sizable linemen like Terrance Davis, making for an average of just under 197 rushing yards per game.
But the Falcons defense has been hard to crack. Led by Fullwood and linebacker Keandre Jones, running backs have struggled to find space between the tackles. In last week’s semifinal win against McNamara, the Falcons accumulated six sacks and two turnovers, plays that Fullwood believes he and his teammates must continue to create if they are to win their fifth title in the last six years.
“It’ll come down to whoever capitalizes off the mistakes of the other team,” the Virginia Tech commit said. “We may bend but we can’t break against them.”