High School

WCAC Football Semifinal: St. John's beats DeMatha

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Chad Ricardo

WCAC Football Semifinal: St. John's beats DeMatha

Four consecutive losses have a way of wearing on the psyche of a team. In those moments, character is defined and leadership is needed to right the ship. St. John’s is using the adversity it faced earlier in the season to get better, and their growth was on full display during their 34-20 semifinal victory on Saturday over the Stags.

“The journey is so much more important than arriving at the summit,” said coach Joe Casamento. “Everything we’ve been through has made us tougher. It’s made us tighter [as a team]”.

The Cadets defense stuffed the run and suffocated DeMatha receivers.

Their offense controlled the time of possession and moved the ball at will. St. John’s appeared determined to take advantage of opportunities in the passing game, getting the ball to Rakim Jarrett early and often and when senior quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava dropped a 26-yard dime into the hands of a diving Caleb Coombs, it gave the Cadets a 10-0 lead in the first. 

“We knew they played man coverage with one-high safety so we just tried to take advantage of their defense,” said Rakim Jarrett. “Caleb made a great catch and Sol-Jay placed the ball where it needed to be”.

St. John’s continued its dominance to start the second. Maiava spread the ball around to multiple receivers, marching the cadets down the field. Antwain “Baby Bus” Littleton’s 6-yard touchdown run pushed the Cadets lead to 17-0.

Late in the second, DeMatha’s freshman quarterback Cameron Edge ignited the Stags comeback. A pass interference call against the Cadets extended DeMathas drive and with seconds remaining in the half, the Stags went play-action and Edge found Sieh Bangura for a touchdown, cutting the lead to 17-7.

The Stags drew closer in the third, following a goal-line stand, Marshawn Lloyd ran off-tackle 82 yards for a score, trimming the Cadets lead to 17-14. After Littleton and Lloyd exchanged touchdown runs, the Cadets once comfortable lead was cut to 24-20 early in the fourth.

St. John’s did not panic. The Cadets did not flinch. Their seniors have been through the fire this season, and they were determined to see the Cadets through. 

“The more you get tested, the more you have to deal with losses, the more important your time together becomes,” said coach Casamento. “ I have so much respect for our seniors. I appreciate how much they’ve grown”.

Each time the Stags fought back into contention, St. John’s answered. When their backs were against the wall, their upperclassman made plays.

Led by Maiava, St.John’s methodically moved the ball down the field. Sol-Jay found Littleton out of the backfield for a key first down and capped the drive with a 12-yard keeper, beating Cozziah Izzard to the edge and finding the end zone for a 31-20 lead.

Trailing by two scores and the clock winding down, DeMatha faced a 4th and 20, Cameron Edge was immediately pressured and sacked by senior captains Mekhail Sherman and Taizse Johnson. The two embraced and jogged to the sideline in unison.

With the victory, the Cadets advance to the WCAC championship game vs. Good Counsel. It will be the third title game their senior class will have participated in and they will have a chance to win their second title.

How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

How one Archbishop Carroll football player built a home gym

Archbishop Carroll's Elijah Solomon joined NBC Sports Washington's Chad Ricardo and shared how he's getting his workout in at a time when going to the gym or school is not an available option. 

"I kind of came up with my own workout regimen," he said. 

First, he used weight sets that he had. And, due to some recent construction, his parents had been doing in their home, he was able to repurpose materials including buckets which he filled with water and PVC pipes to create his own curl-up bar and squat racks.

As Ricardo says in the video above, with creativity like that, who really needs a gym?

MORE HIGH SCHOOL NEWS:

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

These are the top 10 high school defensive backs in the DMV

In today’s game, high-powered offenses are king. Long gone are the days of wishbone formations, triple-option quarterbacks and play-calling strategies centered around “three yards and a cloud of dust.”

In 2020, spread sets are the norm and offenses are designed to put up points in a hurry. For defenses to be successful at slowing them down, they need skilled and versatile defenders in the secondary who can stop the pass and help slow the run game. Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia are home to some of the best in the country.

Here are my Top 10 defensive backs in the DMV.

Ryan “Bo” Barnes | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Offers: 35

Ryan Barnes is a ball-hawking DB with next level length and a knack for making big plays. At 6-foot-2, Barnes is a big corner who blankets his opposition. He uses his long arms and stride to aide in recovering, and once he gets his hands on the ball he is a threat to score.

Though slight of frame, Barnes is a physical, sure tackler who effectively sets the edge against the run.

Antoine Booth | DeMatha (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Michigan State

Antoine Booth often accepts the challenge of lining up against the opposition’s No. 1 receiver -- he does not back down. In fact, he raises his game to that of his competition. He plays the game with a moxie and bravado that will serve him well this season and moving forward.

Booth does a stellar job reading and reacting. He keeps his eyes in the backfield, plants his back foot and jumps routes, often leading to pass breakups and interceptions.

Jalen Clyatt | Sherwood (MD)

Safety: 6’4”, 200 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: East Carolina

Jalen Clyatt has tremendous size and length. As a long strider, he covers a lot of ground in little time.

Clyatt manages the middle of the field. His range allows him to cover from sideline-to-sideline, and his ball skills make him a threat to intercept passes that sail over the middle.

Cam Johnson | St. Frances (MD)

Cornerback: 6’0”, 170 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 13

Cam Johnson has excellent technique. His hips are fluid, his backpedal is smooth and he changes direction effortlessly, which allows him to be successful in man coverage even when playing on an island.

At 6-feet tall, Johnson has nice length and a frame that he will grow into. The rising junior has legitimate “lockdown corner” potential.

Jalen “Buck” McCain | Flowers (MD)

Defensive Back: 6’0, 190

Class: 2021

Committed: Boston College

Jalen McCain is a versatile defensive back capable of making plays from all over the field. He can line up as a boundary-corner or in the slot versus spread offenses, as he displays proficiency in both zone and man coverage.

McCain is a skilled blitzer, has the speed and field awareness to defend in two-deep looks and thrives as a box safety, where his physicality and tackling abilities are on full display.

Will Simpkins III | Quince Orchard (MD)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 180 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: University of Virginia

Simpkins has a Div.-I body type and he uses it to his advantage. He’s physical at the line of scrimmage and excels at redirecting receivers, making it difficult for them to get into their routes.

His hand-fighting techniques are superb. He has loose hips and solid ball skills. Simpkins is capable of taking away an entire side of the field.

Jalen Stroman | Patriot (VA)

Safety: 6’1”, 195 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Virgina Tech

Jalen Stroman is developing into a special student athlete. He’s a big hitter who is most effective coming down hill and attacking. When defending the run, he’s equally adequate at filling the hole as he is setting the edge.

In pass coverage, Stroman displays an ability to undercut routes and break on the ball. He also displays the range to play deep centerfield.

Joshua Thompson | St. John’s (DC)

Cornerback: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Class: 2022

Offers: 8

Joshua Thompson thrives in press coverage. He has the physicality to manhandle receivers at the line, and the length to recover and make plays on the ball.

As a rising junior, his stock is on the rise. Thompson should develop into a 25-plus offer student athlete.

Dante Trader | McDonogh (MD)

Safety: 6’0”, 185 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Maryland

Dante Trader is a natural center-fielder who displays excellent range and ball skills. His footwork and technique allow him to cover ground efficiently. He’s a sound tackler who consistently finds himself around the ball.

What he lacks in size, he makes up for in instincts. Trader does an excellent job of diagnosing plays; seeing what’s in front of him and flowing accordingly.

Zakee Wheatley | Archbishop Spalding (MD)

Safety: 6’3”, 190 lbs

Class: 2021

Committed: Penn State

Zakee Wheatley is a big time student athlete who makes plays all over the field. He has the coverage skills to line up on the outside, as well as the size and physicality to run with tight ends down the seam.

Wheatley is a heavy hitter who provides support against the run and routinely uses his force to separate man from ball.