High School

Game of the Week for Nov. 15: Good Counsel vs. Gonzaga

Game of the Week for Nov. 15: Good Counsel vs. Gonzaga

Good Counsel and Gonzaga meet Friday night in the semi-final round of the WCAC playoffs. Despite the Falcons being the two seed and home team, many prognosticators already have the Eagles penciled into the championship game.

And that’s all right with Good Counsel. 

Despite an impressive season (7-3), the Falcons have often flown under the radar, receiving less recognition — if not respect than their WCAC counterparts. Good Counsel is a blue-collar team who prides itself, on the whole, being greater than the sum of its parts. While superstar talents around the league such as Marshawn Lloyd, Rakim Jarrett or this week’s opponent, Caleb Williams, rotate weeks featured on Sportscenter, the Falcons “5-star offensive player is an offensive tackle (Landon Tengwall),” as GC head coach Andy Stefanelli said. 

In 2019, Good Counsel has been consistent if not spectacular. In out of conference play, their list of quality wins includes No.12 Friendship, No. 24 St. Mary’s Ryken and Mt. St. Joseph’s (9-2). In conference, they impressed in a back-and-forth game against top-ranked St.John’s. Good Counsel led the Cadets 31-27 late, before falling 34-31in the final moments. The week prior, they defeated Gonzaga 42-35, in a 5OT thriller. 

However, due largely in part to their lack of household names, when potential WCAC champions are debated in barbershops, Facebook or twitter, the Falcons are rarely mentioned. 

“That’s Good Counsel," Stefanelli said. “That's our m.o. as a football program”.

Stefanelli believes he has a group of young men who don’t mind being overlooked, so long as they come away with the desired result.

“We have a lot of really good players,” said Stefanelli,  “We don’t get all the recognition that I think our guys deserve. But as a team and a program, that’s what we want. We want a bunch of hard-working kids who get after it, get it done and put the team first. The individual accolades will come, and that's great—if they do— but if not, that’s ok too. We’re about putting the team first”. 

The Falcons are built like a team of yesteryear. A tough, hard-nosed bunch, they believe in the values of quality special teams play, running the ball and stopping the run. Their offense has been in-consistent at times but focusing on all three tiers of the game has allowed GC to be successful.

“Coming into the season, we knew we were going to have a senior-laden defense and with our offense being so young, we knew we’d have to lean on them,” said Stefanelli. “Early on our offense took a little criticism, but instead of letting it get us down, we took it as a positive. We have a great defense and we take a lot of pride in our special teams.”

During overtime of the Falcons win over Gonzaga their own offense found its’ stride. Sean Aaron, Lejay Hatcher and Sy’Veon Wilkerson took over. Although not glamorous, GC demonstrated how potent they could be when their ground-and-pound attack is working.

“We are who we are, we’re going to run the ball and hopefully the offense will continue to improve as we move along,” said Stefanelli.

The GC defense has rarely let them down. With the right combination of effort/energy guys and high-level playmakers, Good Counsel’s D has proven to be one of the top units in the WCAC. Brandon Roberts and George Wolo specialize in stopping the run. With the assistance of linebackers, Harold Miles and Caleb Dennis, the Falcons force opposing offenses to operate behind the chains consistently, setting up obvious passing situations. Their defensive back field excels in man coverage, allowing Mitchell Melton and Kris Jenkins to wreak havoc off the edge.— an uncomfortable equation for any quarterback.

“One of the things we’ve been good at is getting pressure on quarterbacks. It affects the game at all levels, even with the top guys. If you watch the NFL, Tom Brady is not as effective when he has guys in his face”.

As a group of 11, operating as one, the Falcons defense is formidable no matter their opponent. In their first match-up, GC found ways to make Caleb Williams uncomfortable during regulation— they held the Eagles to seven points through the first 4 quarters. In overtime, Williams caught fire, ac-counting for 4 of his 5 TD’s on the night. Good Counsel knows they can’t allow Williams and the Eagles attack to pick up where they left off. 

“They have a very good offensive line and Caleb is a tremendous player; he is going to make his plays, he certainly has against us, but we have to attempt to keep Caleb somewhat in check, so he’s not throwing it all over the yard."

If the boxing adage, “styles make fights” is applicable on the gridiron, Gonzaga is the opponent the Falcons want to face. They have won three of the last four match-ups. Their grit and team effort allows them to go toe-to-toe with the Eagles' physicality. 

“The games with Gonzaga are chess matches. They’re always very close. They know us, we know them. Let’s strap it up and see who can make the most plays on Friday night," said Stefanelli.

Good Counsel and Gonzaga are set for another classic battle. Twitter and Instagram may have already formulated their opinion as to who will advance, fortunately for everyone in attendance, the game will be decided by two well-coached collectives of student-athletes on the football field, not social media. 

Click here for this week's Top 25. 

DaLawn Parrish and Wise football reclaim Maryland state title

Photo by Chad Ricardo

DaLawn Parrish and Wise football reclaim Maryland state title

It’s been 379 days since Wise lost to Quince Orchard in their 2018 state semifinal matchup. It’s been 9,096 hours since the Pumas' 48-game win streak was snapped and 545,760 minutes since the then-four-time champion became nothing more than a contender.

That time has passed. Wise is Wise, again.

The Pumas defeated Northwest 35-21 to reclaim the Maryland 4A state championship Friday night. The victory ended a nightmare for head coach DaLawn Parrish that he’d been living in for over a year. Asked how often he’d thought about getting back to this moment, he replied, “just about every day."

From 2015-17, the Pumas experienced so much success that at times Parrish felt his adversaries, as well as some of his supposed supporters, were anxiously waiting to witness Wise’s downfall.

“A lot of times we talk about ‘us against the world,'” Parrish said. “I think back to that QO game and I did feel like everybody wanted us to lose. Even though we had all these people behind us, I felt like half of them was cheering for QO—it was like we weren’t being supported. When I was coming up, everybody wanted to see a dynasty, now it feels like everybody wants to see the underdog win."

Parrish and the Pumas set out to use that loss as a teaching tool for the student athletes, both on and off the field.

“We used it as motivation. It drove me, it drove these young men, it drove my coaches.

"This is bigger than X’s and O’s, it’s about surrounding [these student athletes] with good people. We help them to understand what failure looks like, what it is to continue to try and we teach them that although somedays things don’t go their way, they have to keep pushing forward."

The life lesson was on full display in the state championship game. Friday night was a tale of two halves. During the first, the Jags looked like the better team at times. Northwest quarterback Jordan Morse connected with wide receiver Kaden Prather down the right sideline for a 79-yard score in the first quarter and Ryan Beach zig-zagged 69 yards on a screen pass to even the match seconds before intermission.

The vaunted Wise defense that had only allowed two opponents to score in double figures all season had given up two touchdowns in just two quarters. Asked if anything the Jags did in the first half surprised him and his staff, a jovial Parrish responded, “It surprised me that one of my people blew a coverage,” with a smile. “And I will be honest, [Beach] was quicker than I thought he was. The film doesn’t do him justice."

The Pumas' defense entered the third frame with a renewed energy. It stymied the Jags rushing attack and applied relentless pressure to Morse, registering six sacks on the night.

“I knew that if we got them in 10-personnel, they’d be in trouble because they haven’t seen speed like ours," Parrish said. "A lot of what they do is screens and short passes, so if we could get pressure [on their quarterback], I thought we could blow the game open sooner or later."

After yielding a long completion in the first quarter, Jalil Farooq proved to be a difference maker for Wise. He blanketed Prather in the second half, getting his hands on multiple passes. His third-quarter interception swung the momentum in the Puma’s favor.

“Jalil played a helluva game," teammate Dorian Strong said. “His endless pass break-ups and the pick was key for us."

Farooq would capitalize on his forced turnover moments later, when he ran a reverse in from eight yards out and gave Wise a 28-14 lead.

The Pumas' main source of consistency throughout the evening was sophomore quarterback Jayden Sauray. When the game was in the balance, Sauray delivered. He threw second-half touchdowns to Strong and Keith Boddie Jr. to match his two first-half touchdown runs. The young QB showed skill and leadership beyond his years.

“The way he played with poise was outstanding,” Parrish said. “He doesn’t get rattled much. To be a 15-year old young man and have that kind of poise and confidence is unheard of. To stay the course and remain steady the way he does, just shows who he is and what’s to come [from him] will be outstanding."

The title is the Puma’s fourth in five years and the program’s fifth this decade. However, there is little reason to expect Parrish to celebrate for too long; he’s already planning his next steps,

“We just won this championship and my mind is working on next year," Parrish said. "Who do we have to replace? Who’s coming up from junior varsity? I’m thinking about my seniors and trying to get them in college. My mind is looking outward and I haven’t had a chance to take this all in. It’s like it never stops."

Such is life when you’ve built a dynasty. Wise is Wise, again.


Top 20 DMV boys basketball: PVI, DeMatha lead rankings

USA TODAY Sports Images

Top 20 DMV boys basketball: PVI, DeMatha lead rankings

Week 2 began with a Virginia rivalry matchup between PVI and Bishop J. O'Connell. Behind Duke commit Jeremy Roach, PVI defeated O'Connell, in a sold-out playoff environment gym.

In other notable matchups, Good Counsel upsetting Gonzaga 59-56 - Bez Mbeng led Good Counsel with 14 points.  Antoine Jacks and Dylan Williamson both contributed 12 points. And Eleanor Roosevelt defeated South River 73-61, and in an out-of-county matchup. In an IAC vs MAC non-conference game between St. Andrews and Georgetown Prep, St. Andrew's took the 89-52 victory. Dylan Edwards led St. Andrews with 15 points. Here's this week's top 25:

1. PVI 

2. DeMatha 

3. Gonzaga 

4. Saint Stephen's Saint Agnes 

5. St. John's 

6. Rock Creek

7. Bullis  

8. Archbishop Carroll

9.  Coolidge

10. Good Counsel

11. Riverdale Baptist 

12.  Bishop McNamara 

13. Thurgood Marshall

14. St. Andrew’s

15. Bishop O’Connell 

16. Georgetown Prep

17. St. Mary's Ryken

18. Wise

19. Wilson 

20. Eleanor Roosevelt 


Click here for the Top 20 girls' rankings.