After their victory Saturday, H.D. Woodson players huddled around a cardboard cutout of freshman quarterback Ethan Lane and waved towels decorated with the number 17.
Lane was hospitalized after getting shot leaving practice Monday. Junior wide receiver Andre Winestock, who was with Lane before the incident, donned a No. 17 jersey for the game instead of his normal No. 13.
“I did it all for my little cousin; everything is for him,” Winestock said. “I just wanted to come out and set the tone for the team so we could get the ‘W’ [for Lane].”
Woodson shut out Wilson, 19-0, to take the top spot in the DCIAA Stars Division.
Woodson (4-3, 3-0) jumped out to an early lead after Winestock caught the Wilson defense flat-footed to score on the opening kickoff. The Warriors rode the momentum and clamped down on the Wilson offense to control play for much of the first half.
The Warriors’ defensive line played a large part in the victory, putting heavy pressure on Wilson quarterback Malakai Anthony.
“I thought our defense did very well. They did a good job forcing [Wilson] to play within the confinements of our game,” Woodson Coach Greg Fuller said. “Remember, defense wins championships — when we get up on offense first, our defense is going to stop [our opponents].”
Sophomore running back Ahmad McDuffie added to the Warriors’ lead midway through the third quarter on a carry deep in Wilson territory. A late field goal by the Warriors in the fourth quarter cemented the win.
McDuffie said that while his team fights for every victory, this one had a deeper meaning.
“We had to come out and ball for [Lane] and not let up on the gas today,” McDuffie said. “Everything was for ‘Little-E.’ ”
Lane’s family was at the game, and Winestock said he is still recuperating at the hospital.
Earlier this season, Fuller described his team as being “under construction.” Woodson had dropped its first three games and did not play its best football in a pair of wins that followed. But Woodson caught its stride in time for conference play, and it has now won four straight.
“It’s always rolling under construction for us. We’re good in a lot of places, but we got a lot of penalties in the red zone that cost us,” Fuller said. “We have to keep our heads up, keep them humble, and just keep working hard and hopefully that will be good for us.”
The game was a reminder to the rest of the Stars Division that Woodson is one of the best in the area. It won four straight DCIAA Turkey Bowls before Ballou ended its streak last year.
Before Saturday’s game, Woodson and Wilson were the only two Stars teams undefeated in conference play. Winestock and his teammates believed the Tigers (5-2, 2-1) were favored despite Woodson’s recent uptick.
“The whole city was going against us. Everybody thought because we went 0-3 we weren’t going to finish strong,” Winestock said. “So we came out today and showed these people that Woodson is still the best in the league.”