High School

Good Counsel beats St. John's for WCAC title

Good Counsel beats St. John's for WCAC title

In 2019 Good Counsel’s recipe for success had called for: a heavy dose of dominating defense, a sprinkle of special teams magic and a dash of explosive offensive plays.

On Sunday night, the Falcons used those ingredients to cook up a WCAC championship.

Trailing 13-7 late in the fourth quarter, St. John’s Sol-Jay Maiava connected with Rakim Jarrett on a 38-yard touchdown to give the Cadets a 14-13 lead with under two minutes remaining.

Following Gonzaga’s last-second Hail Mary victory last year, the late score appeared to signal a second consecutive storybook ending for the league title game — and it did, just not for the Cadets.

Following the ensuing kickoff, GC had the ball on their own 30-yard line. With their backs against the wall and time running out, they set up a screen for Sy’veon Wilkerson,

“We’ve been working on screens all year but our defense is so good at defending it, it never worked in practice,” said coach Andy Stefanelli, “ but we kept practicing it and it paid off tonight."

Wilkerson picked up two crucial open field blocks from tackle Landon Tengwall and guard Xavier Ricks, opening the door for him to race 51 yards up the left seam placing the Falcons in position for a game-winning field goal.

Good Counsel ran the ball twice more, milking the clock, before sending in placekicker, Vince Errigo with 18 seconds remaining. The Falcons snap was on target, holder Ben Cuellar placed the ball and Errigo nailed the 32-yard field goal, putting GC ahead for good 16-14.

The Falcons offense spread its wings when it needed to Sunday night, but as was the case all season, Good Counsel’s stole the show. Trailing 7-0 midway through the third, Caleb Dennis intercepted Maiava’s pass and returned it inside the 5-yard line, setting up GC’s first score.

“We were in man coverage and had two safeties over the top”, said Dennis. “Coach Plez [position coach Josh Pleasant] always works with us on the ‘slip technique’, so when he beat me inside, I cut under it."

Two plays later, Wilkerson followed the lead block of Cole Hefflin into the end zone, tying the game at seven.

Moments later, the Falcons defense turned over the Cadets again. This time it was Jalen McNair’s interception and return that gave Good Counsel excellent field position. Sean Aaron’s touchdown run gave GC a 13-7 lead early in the 4th.

“This feels amazing,” said McNair. “Everybody counted us out. All week, all we saw on social media was ‘St. John’s, St. John’s, St. John’s’ and that motivated us."

The Falcons held the high-powered SJC offense in check for a majority of the night. Mitchell Melton and Kris Jenkins Jr. consistently pressured Maiava, while defensive tackles George Wolo and Brandon Roberts clogged up the interior making it difficult for the Cadets to run the ball.

“Our defense is unbelievable, they’ve been great all year. We knew they’d carry us, so we leaned on them,” said Stefanelli “It was incredible, we knew it would be a battle. That’s a great team we were able to nip out there at the end. Congrats to St. John’s on a great season — this was just a tremendous game. This was a true team victory for sure”.

The championship is Good Counsel’s first since 2012.

Kevin Durant MLK Classic aims to provide athletes unique experience

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Chad Ricardo/NBC Sports Washington

Kevin Durant MLK Classic aims to provide athletes unique experience

Maryland native Kevin Durant aims to bring culture to the basketball court with the Kevin Durant MLK Classic.

More than a traditional basketball tournament, the classic hopes to provide student athletes with a unique community engagement and education experience in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Top high schools from the DMV and beyond will compete on the court Saturday and Monday at The St. James in Springfield, Va., while spending Sunday touring the National Museum of African American History and Culture, as well as the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” address in 1963. The schedule allows for student athletes to walk away with more than participation trophies.

“Most basketball events you leave with ‘W’s’ and ‘L’s,’ but we wanted them to leave with more than that,” said Durant’s father and event organizer, Wayne Pratt. “When you think about Dr. King, you think about access, you think about legacy, you think about his fight for equality. These things have always been important to Kevin, and we wanted to make sure the students could take some of these principles with them.”

Durant starred locally at National Christian Academy and Montrose Christian before becoming the first freshman to be named Naismith College Player of the Year at the University of Texas. As a professional in the NBA, he has won an MVP award and is a two-time champion. According to Pratt, doors were opened for Durant as a youth and he hopes to do the same.

“It took a village for Kevin to get to where he is. So many people have given to him and he just wants to give back in any way he can,” said Pratt. “He started off with The Durant Center, and then he built courts all over the world and now he wants to do an event for the kids here at home that also pays homage to one of the greatest African-Americans that ever lived.”

The MLK weekend event will see teams traveling from as far as Canada to compete with local talent from Archbishop Carroll, Bullis, Wilson and Rock Creek Christian Academy.

Gonzaga QB Caleb Williams commits to play in 2021 All-American Bowl

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Chad Ricardo/NBC Sports Washington

Gonzaga QB Caleb Williams commits to play in 2021 All-American Bowl

Gonzaga quarterback Caleb Williams has committed to play in the 2021 All-American Bowl.

Williams, a 5-star recruit, is largely considered the No. 1 ranked dual-threat QB in the nation. The 2018-19 Gatorade State Player of the Year (D.C.) is no stranger to big games. He led Gonzaga to the WCAC championship game as a freshman before helping the Eagles win the title as a sophomore. He’s had his eyes set on testing his talents in the bowl for some time now.

“I’ve always watched the game,” said Williams. “I always saw people like Trevor [Lawrence]. I always watched the highlights -- like Adrian Peterson being there -- so being able to join that family means a lot.”

Williams and his father attended the lead-up to the 2020 All-American Bowl earlier this month, where he had the opportunity to meet current and future participants. While there, he witnessed fellow DMV 5-star standout Bryan Bresee be honored as the national defensive student athlete of the year. Williams and others in his class then took in the game and all of its festivities from field-level. With the option of committing to play in any of the major all-star events, Williams chose the All-American Bowl because he feels participants were able to separate themselves from the competition.

“I chose the All-American Bowl because NBC and Adidas provided a stellar experience when I showed up.” said Williams. “Both sides were real professional, and I want to be a part of that.”

Williams was chosen for the game by the All-American Bowl selection committee and 247Sports. Only 100 of the top student athletes nationally will have such an opportunity. But for Williams, playing in the game has a meaning that stretches far past the white lines that outline even the largest of stadiums. He hopes his accomplishments affect more than just the game -- he wants to help the next wave of student athletes here at home.

“I believe success opens up doors for others and that’s really all I’m here for,” said Williams. “I’m here to have a successful career and open up doors for other kids in the DMV, because we don’t get as much credit as we really should.”

The twenty-first edition of the All-American Bowl will be played on January 2, 2021 in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.