The DeMatha fight song was long since concluded, the celebratory rush to the fan section complete, and the huddle around the newly earned trophy dispersed, but sophomore Anthony McFarland was still bouncing.
He’d been jumping up and down by himself for a few seconds when fellow sophomore Beau English charged his way shouting “2017” and leapt into his arms. The two tumbled to the ground in the joy of their 24-20 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship win over No. 1 Good Counsel, classmates and stars of a Stags team that was supposed to be too young to do this again. On Saturday at the University of Maryland’s Byrd Stadium, that young talent trumped experience.
“It’s unbelievable,” McFarland said. “The thing is, we’ve got two years! We’re looking to four-peat. It’s not just about the sophomores, it’s about the whole team.”
All three of DeMatha’s touchdowns were scored by sophomores, none of whom showed any signs of inexperience when the seventh-ranked Stags (9-3) fell behind 14-0 in the first quarter. By halftime, Khory Spruill had barreled in for a touchdown and McFarland reeled in a touchdown pass from English that would have looked right at home had the Terrapins been playing on their own field instead of the Stags — a leaping, falling grab that gave DeMatha a 17-14 halftime lead.
“We talk about it a lot,” English said. “Ever since we got in the playoffs, Anthony’s been saying ‘2017’ — our class could help lead this team to a championship. That’s what me and him and some other key players did today. We’re looking for two more.”
When Good Counsel (10-2) took the lead again, it was English who led the Stags’ retaliatory charge, carrying the pile and the weight of a season into the Falcons’ end zone with a third-quarter touchdown that proved the difference. The four-point lead he gave DeMatha stood up, in part because of a fumble caused by Darryl Turner Jr. and recovered by Darryl Marshall Jr., who broke his hand against Gonzaga in the WCAC semifinal and opted to play his final Stags game anyway. The two seniors had helped the Stags overcome inexperience all season and delivered when it mattered most.
“As seniors, we just talked to [the underclassmen], we said we had to prove everybody wrong,” Marshall said. “They were on the bandwagon with us trying to get there, and we got there.”
Either Good Counsel or DeMatha has won every WCAC title since 2003. The Stags, who won six straight titles from 2003-2008, own the last two and 22nd overall.
“This team, with the young boys who were unexpected to make this run, this one’s just a little bit sweeter,” DeMatha Coach Elijah Brooks said. “But they both feel great.”