By MARK F. GRAY, Staff Writer, [email protected]
DeMATHA FACES GONZAGA IN WCAC CHAMPIONSHIP
DeMatha earned its way back to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championship by stopping Good Counsel 30-14 at Prince George’s Sports and Learning Complex.
The Stags were in the unfamiliar role of bystander for last year’s WCAC Championship Game. DeMatha will be playing in the WCAC football championship contest for the 20th time in 22 seasons in Sunday’s game at Catholic University. They were on a four year roll before getting beat in the 2017 semifinals.
DeMarcco Hellams, the dual threat defensive back/wide receiver who has already committed to Alabama, made his impact felt in every facet of the game. He set the tone for DeMatha by scoring two touchdowns, swiping two interceptions and blocking a punt that led to a safety.
However, he wasn’t the only player who stepped his game up in the playoffs spotlight. Defensive back Josh Wallace added an interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter giving the Stags a 30-7 lead that proved insurmountable.
Meanwhile, Gonzaga ended the conference and national championship hopes of St. John’s with a 24-14 upset win. The Cadets had been the top ranked team in the area all season and were ranked as high as number four in the nation.
Eagles wide receiver Dean Engram, who has committed to Wisconsin, returned a punt back for a touchdown to give the Eagles a 17-6 lead in the third quarter.
WISE CRUSHES ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, FLOWERS NEXT
Wise began its march towards a potential second straight MPSAA 4-A championship by picking up where they left off in October’s regular season victory over Eleanor Roosevelt. With brutal efficiency and explosive offense, the Pumas advanced to the second round of the state playoffs with a 39-8 win.
Wise combined to defeat Roosevelt in two games this season by a total of 79-8. The Pumas will face C.H. Flowers as the playoffs continue for the reigning state champs.
Flowers, meanwhile, escaped with a 6-0 victory over Suitland to remain undefeated heading into their survive and advance contest against the defending Maryland state champs with more than P.G. County bragging rights on the line.
BALLOU and H.D. WOODSON ADVANCE TO TURKEY BOWL
Driven by the “if” that still hovers over the program after the disappointment of losing their final game to their most bitter rival in the DCIAA, H.D. Woodson earned the right to make amends this year. If the Warriors had beaten Ballou in last year’s Turkey Bowl, it would have marked their fifth consecutive city championship.
After their 19-0 win over Dunbar in the stars division semifinals, if Woodson defeats Ballou in a rematch of the 2018 title game, it would be their fifth title in the last six years. The Knights were also dominant in their semifinal 27-13 upset win over Wilson to set up another potential epoch matchup between teams who have great respect but no love for one another.
Ballou senior running back Jamal Speaks carried the load as they began their quest for consecutive championships when the playoffs started last weekend. Speaks, who has emerged over the final weeks of the season as a force offensively carried them and set the tone for the team. He led the Knights with 153 yards rushing on 20 carries and two touchdowns.
However, Ballou’s defense put the clamps on one of the DCIAA’s top rushers. The Knights were able to neutralize the speed of Wilson’s offense. With Desean Young patrolling the field, Ballou was able to contain the rushing of Wilson senior Amir Gerald who came into the game after rushing for 1,011 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season.