DeMatha wide receiver Cameron Phillips takes pride in watching film of opponents. While preparing for Monday’s game against Florida powerhouse Godby last week, he made a generalization about the cornerbacks from the Tallahassee school: They are fast and overly aggressive.
But even Phillips was surprised when a Cougars defender overplayed him on a conventional head-fake in the second quarter Monday. So Phillips, who is headed to Virginia Tech next year, slipped behind him and showed off his heralded speed, hauling in a 65-yard pass down to the 2-yard line that set up a Stags touchdown in the most electric play of a 26-9 romp at Byrd Stadium in College Park.
“I was supposed to run a comeback,” said Phillips, who finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. “It happened to be a big play for us. I knew if my technique was right and I just stayed calm and did what I needed to do that I would make the plays.”
Top-ranked DeMatha (2-0) simply made more plays, and the Stags looked more prepared for a Labor Day stage that included hundreds of screaming students and an ESPN telecast. After the Cougars, the defending 4A champions in Florida, took an early 3-0 lead in the first quarter, DeMatha quarterback John Lovett engineered a nine-play, 73-yard drive capped by a 24-yard fade to Phillips.
The duo was back at it on the ensuing drive following an interception inside the Godby 20-yard line, and a third-down conversion between Lovett and Phillips set up first and goal. Lovett snuck in from one yard several plays later to make it 14-3.
“We expected to do that,” said Lovett, who finished with 145 yards passing and two touchdowns. “Me and Cam, we work hard.”
DeMatha racked up 244 yards rushing (including 101 from Taiwan Deal and 91 from Lorenzo Harrison) and held versatile Godby quarterback JT Bradwell to 8 for 18 passing for 88 yards and a pair of interceptions. The more costly came early in the second half with the Cougars trying to mount a rally. Bradwell had a pass tipped at the line on third down, and Stags defensive back Sinmi Demuren came down with the ball inside the Godby 30-yard line, setting up a Mac Burke field goal to make it 23-3.
Playing a national-scale schedule, according to Phillips, gives the Stags a chance to prove their worth as a power outside the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference. The Stags were pushed to the limit last week in a 24-20 win at Phoebus (Va.), but Florida has a certain brand of player that Phillips was aching to play against. Now he will have to travel to face another national power, St. Joseph’s (N.J.), which DeMatha will play Saturday afternoon.
“Playing a team from Florida, having them come up, the competition is very, very exciting,” Phillips said. “I believe this is right there at the top.”