As H.D. Woodson running back Milton Brown maneuvered around Dunbar’s defense and broke tackles en route to a 60-yard touchdown, his offensive linemen raised their arms and began celebrating. Brown was just 20 yards into his dash, but his teammates knew no one could catch him.
Similar to Brown’s touchdown scamper in the first quarter, Woodson has not looked back this season in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association. With a 19-0 victory on a rainy Friday, the Warriors closed the regular season at 7-3 (6-0 Stars division). The Warriors have won nine straight against Dunbar since 2013; this one wiped away Dunbar’s hope of making the playoffs.
“We stayed as one even though a lot of people doubted us,” defensive back Tenyah Dixon said. “We stayed focused, and now we got to keep going and keep winning.”
Brown played just one snap in the second half but made his presence felt early in the game, accumulating 89 of his 93 yards from scrimmage in the first 10 minutes. The Warriors scored all three of their touchdowns in that span.
“The key to the win was being physical,” Brown said. “It wouldn’t have happened without that front five. That’s where it’s at. We wouldn’t do anything without them.”
After losing their first three games of the season, the Warriors have rebounded to win seven straight. Defense has propelled them. The Warriors permitted just 102 yards Friday and have kept five of their past six opponents below 10 points, including three shutouts.
Coach Greg Fuller credits a stout defensive front that constantly disrupts the running game and puts pressure on quarterbacks. Safety James Hatton capitalized on that pressure with an interception Friday.
“They’ve been so important in stopping the run game after game,” Dixon said. “They protect us in the pass when they come across the middle. They do a lot for us, and we thank them.”
Fuller said that to take the next step, the team needs to be more disciplined. Lapses were evident in the regular season finale; two Warriors interceptions were nullified because of penalties for roughing the passer and targeting. An illegal block in the back negated a punt return for a touchdown. The team committed 17 penalties, extending several Crimson Tide drives and giving them several chances to come back.
“Their minds are not really focused on being disciplined on the football field,” Fuller said.
The Warriors also dropped five potential interceptions and several wide-open passes that would have been touchdowns.
“Oh, in practice, we’re going to go hard this week. We’re going to run a lot,” Dixon said. “I know we are because we dropped the ball. It was all on us. We don’t blame the weather or anything. We take responsibility for everything we do. We just got to do better.”
Still, the Warriors can ride the momentum of a shutout win as they try to reclaim the DCIAA title. Woodson lost to Ballou last year in the Turkey Bowl after winning the crown each year from 2013 to 2016.
“It’s been on our mind all year,” Brown said. “We’re trying to take the throne back. We need that trophy back.”