DeMatha stays undefeated, heads North for ‘toughest game yet’

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sophomore Myles Miree scored two touchdowns in DeMatha's 35-7 victory last week. He is shown here in action Aug. 26. Photo courtesy of Ed King

BY CHRIS MCMANES — The DeMatha Catholic football team has won its first three games by an average of almost 33 points per game. The Stags might be hard-pressed to match that margin Friday night.

DeMatha, ranked No. 1 in Maryland, travels to Owings Mills to face undefeated McDonogh at 7 p.m. The Eagles (3-0) beat the only team to defeat the Stags last season.

“This is going to be our toughest game yet,” DeMatha sixth-year Head Coach Elijah Brooks said. “McDonogh has a winning tradition, particularly in the last four to five years. It’s going to be a great matchup.”

The Stags, who will be playing on the road for the third time this year, are coming off a 35-7 win at Bishop McDevitt in Harrisburg, Pa. Senior quarterback Beau English threw for two touchdowns. Sophomore Myles Miree ran for a pair.

“Two good, undefeated teams, one and three in the state. This is what high school football is about.” — Head Coach Elijah Brooks

Miree, who missed DeMatha’s 55-20 victory over Avalon on Sept. 2 with an ear infection, rushed for 106 yards, averaging 11.8 per carry.

“He’s doing some really good things,” Brooks said. “He made the runs that he needed to make this past week.”

The Stags’ top tailback has been senior Khory Spruill. He rushed for two TDs in his team’s season-opening 42-7 victory at Oscar Smith in Chesapeake, Va. He added 130 yards and two scores against Avalon. Last week he went for 94 yards.

Spruill and Miree are shouldering most of the load in the absence of highly recruited running back Anthony McFarland. The senior is missing his final year in Hyattsville with a fractured left ankle. He is a team captain and travels with the squad.

Brooks was confident his ground troops would step up in McFarland’s absence.

“Losing Anthony was a tough blow,” he said. “We obviously wish we had him, but we prepare all of our guys for opportunity. We knew what Khory could do coming back from last year. We knew we had some talent and were optimistic those guys would perform.”

Strong Line Play

English is benefitting from stout pass protection. The DeMatha running backs are beneficiaries of gaping holes along the offensive line, led by seniors Marcus Minor, Victor Oluwatimi and Zach Lyons.

Minor anchors the Stags’ line at left tackle and has committed to Maryland. Oluwatimi is a three-year starter at center. Zach Lyons and junior Evan Gregory play guard. Junior Austin Fontain starts at offensive and defensive tackle.

“Our three seniors are doing a fantastic job. They really lead the way,” Brooks said. “Evan and Austin are also doing a great job. Those guys up front are really paving the way for our backs.”

Jermaine Johnson had four receptions for 65 yards at Bishop McDevitt and produced the first score on a 29-yard pass from English. Sophomore DeMarco Hellams snagged two balls for 30 yards. Dominic Logan-Nealy turned his only reception into a 26-yard TD.

Defensive end and Ohio State recruit Chase Young paces the DeMatha defense. Last week, with the Stags ahead by just 21-7 in the third quarter and the Crusaders on the DeMatha 2-yard line, Anthony Toro pressured the quarterback into an interception by fellow linebacker Grant Donaldson.

“Our defense stepped it up and played well,” Brooks said. “Different games bring different scenarios to the table. The true character of a team is finding a way to win, and our guys are doing that.”

A Clash of Unbeatens

McDonogh is led offensively by quarterback DeJuan Ellis. The junior, who played at Bishop O’Connell the past two years, has committed to Virginia Tech. In the Eagles’ 32-29 victory at Gonzaga — the only team to beat the Stags in 2015 — he ran for 86 yards and completed 10 of 14 passes for 133 yards.

Brooks compares the 5-foot-11, 175-pound Ellis to another former Virginia Tech signal caller: “They have a dynamic quarterback who is Michael Vick-like. He can score from anywhere on the field.”

The Washington Post has ranked DeMatha No. 1 all season. Nationally, USA Today ranks the Stags ninth. It has McDonogh No. 3 in Maryland.   

Brooks is looking forward to the contest.

“Two good, undefeated teams, one and three in the state,” he said. “This is what high school football is about.”

Chris McManes covers DeMatha athletics for the Hyattsville Life & Times. He used stats and descriptions of the DeMatha-Bishop McDevitt game from PennLive.com’s Eric F. Epler.