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. 

A high school senior reflects on having his final high school baseball season canceled

A high school senior reflects on having his final high school baseball season canceled

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus, a number of high school seniors saw their final sports seasons cut short. At NBC Sports Washington, we invited them to share their stories. This one comes to us from Riverside Rams senior baseball player Philip Barbe.

I woke up ready to go play a scrimmage and found out school was canceled. Before I knew it, school was canceled for the rest of the year leaving my teammates and me without a season. 

As a senior, it has affected me heavily. I have always looked forward to my senior night and being able to show all the hard work I’ve put in the past four years. It’s been a challenge waking up every day not being able to do the thing that I love. 

The cancelation doesn’t just affect me because of my baseball season being lost—It’s also because I’m missing out on some important high school memories: senior prom, graduation, and all the other great things that come with being in high school. It’s not even just about me - my parents and family have been waiting for these moments as well. 

The effect this has had goes beyond the players and affects everyone involved.

It’s been completely heartbreaking but I hope that they find a way to give us some sort of season again. Even if we play games like a travel tournament I’d be okay with that.

Just one more opportunity to go on the field is all I want right now.

READ MORE FROM HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS HERE AND HERE.

Top 10 defensive linemen in the DMV for the class of 2021

Top 10 defensive linemen in the DMV for the class of 2021

The game of football has evolved. As offenses shift to spread formations and focus on pace, it has become imperative for defensive student athletes to become faster, more agile and capable of playing in space.

The most proficient way to slow down a high-octane offense is to beat them with a dominant front-four. Here’s a look at the DMV’s top defensive linemen in the class of 2021.

1. Demeioun Robinson | Quince Orchard (MD)

WDE: 6’4", 225

Offers: 24, including Maryland, Georgia, Ohio State

Demeioun Robinson has amazing get-off. His first step is electric, his movement is smooth with no false steps and little wasted motion. He routinely beats his blocker before the quarterback has a chance to get from under center and once he’s in the backfield, he closes like a heat-seeking missile.

Robinson has excellent length, but he plays with a low center of gravity. He’s a natural pass rusher -- his quickness off the edge is unparalleled in his class. The only hope of getting him blocked is with a strong double-team at the point of attack. He’s too fast, too active and too athletic to be run away from.

Robinson possesses the playmaking ability of an offensive star -- he just so happens to line up at defensive end.

2. Marcus Bradley | Quince Orchard (MD)

DT: 6’4", 275

Offers: 34, including Maryland, Oregon, Ohio State

Marcus Bradley is one of the hottest recruits in the country and it’s for good reason.  He plays big and with bad intentions.

Bradley is a physical specimen and unlike many young men his size, he’s not afraid to use his girth to punish the opposition. Bradley tosses around would be blockers en route to the ball carrier. He has a quick first step and moves well in space which allows him to line up at defensive end when needed.

Bradley is a smart pass rusher -- he often angles his pursuit to create direct pathways to the QB, and when he cannot get home, he does a great job getting his hands up to deflect passes.

3. Taizse Johnson | St. John’s (DC)

DT: 6’1", 290

Offers: 13, including Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Florida

Committed: University of Maryland

Taizse Johnson is an offensive lineman’s worst nightmare; he has the strength of a bear and the feet of a ballerina.

Johnson is stout at the point of attack. When lining up as a 1-technique, he beats one-on-one blocking with ease. He has excellent hands and uses them to get off blocks, allowing him to get penetration and make tackles in the backfield. Johnson plays with a high-motor and routinely pursues runners down the line as well as downfield.

As a pass rusher, he gets excellent push up the middle and his quick feet allow him to be an effective stunt partner with outside defenders. Johnson is both supremely talented and technically sound, a combination not often seen at the high school level.

4. Monkell Goodwine | National Christian Academy (MD)

SDE: 6’4", 260

Offers: 23, including LSU, Oklahoma, Tennessee

Goodwine is a quick and powerful young man who has prototypical size and backs that up with a high motor.

Goodwine has a D-1 physique. He’s strong at the point of attack, making it difficult to run at him and he chases the ball aggressively when opponents attempt to run away from him. As a pass rusher he is relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback. His quick first step allows him to get upfield with ease and he is disciplined enough to double back and close on unsuspecting QBs who think they’ve gotten away.

5. Katron Evans | St. Frances (MD)

DT: 6’4", 320

Offers: 37, including Clemson, Alabama, Georgia

Katron Evans is a force of nature capable of dominating the interior from his 1-technique. Evans is a mountain of a young man who forces, and subsequently splits double teams. He eats up blockers thus allowing his linebackers to run to the ball unabated.

He is effective at clogging rushing lanes. He is strong at the point of attack and is proficient at sliding down the line to make stops.  He uses his violent hands to get push up the middle in passing situations.

6. Colin Mobley | DeMatha (MD)

SDE: 6’4", 250

Offers: 25, including Penn State, Florida State, Maryland

The first thing to notice about Mobley is his size; the young man looks the part. His long arms, strong foundation and tight core give him the necessary physical attributes to exceed all expectations -- and those expectations are high.

Mobley does a great job using hand fighting techniques to disengage from blockers. He is stout at the point of attack and is an efficient pass rusher. Mobley is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential.

7. James Gillespie | Woodbridge (VA)

DT: 6’2", 300

Offers: 10, including Michigan, Penn St., Maryland

James Gillespie has a quick first step and excellent burst for a young man his size. He routinely gets penetration and is a sure tackler once in the opponent’s backfield.

Gillespie’s athleticism is off the charts. His quick feet allow him to track runners down the line and his ability to maintain gap integrity make it challenging to run at him.

8. Terion Sugick | National Christian Academy (MD)

DT: 6’3", 287

Offers: 16, including UVA, Maryland, NC State

Terion Sugick plays the game with bad intentions. A physical young man, he believes in imposing his will on opponents until they give in. He’s a punishing hitter -- his style of play sets the tone for his team.

Sugick does a good job splitting double teams and getting penetration. He has quick and active feet which allow him to routinely disrupt plays in the backfield. He plays the game with an energy and zest that his teammates can easily feed off of.

9. Kenjuan Manuel | St. John’s (DC)

DT: 6’1", 296

Offers: 6, including East Carolina, UMass, Ohio

Manuel is an anchor in the interior of the Cadets’ defensive line. He displays the requisite power needed to beat one-on-one blocking and holds his ground when double-teamed.

Manuel shows short-range burst and stellar lateral movement. When motivated to do so, he lives in the opposition’s backfield. Manuel is a high character young man and will be an asset to any program. Look for him to take major strides this season and bring his potential to fruition.

10. Andre Porter | Ballou (DC)

SDE: 6’3", 260

Offers: 12, including Maryland, Boston College, Pitt

Andre Porter is equipped with size and freakish athletic ability. The strong-side defensive end stands 6-foot 3-inches, weighing 260 pounds, while maintaining the straight-line speed and quick twitch muscle reflexes of an offensive skilled player.

Porter has the potential to be truly special and undoubtedly will prove to be one of the top defensive linemen in the nation, once he is able to get back on the field.

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