BY CHRIS MCMANES
LAS VEGAS — DeMatha Catholic and Bishop Gorman had relative stability at quarterback the past three seasons. But when the titans meet tonight at Gorman’s Fertitta Field, they will both feature new players under center.
Senior quarterback Tyler Lenhart will start for DeMatha. Senior Dorian Thompson-Robinson gets the nod for the Gaels.
Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the game live.
Lenhart, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound Gambrills resident, held off junior Eric Najarian to win the Stags preseason quarterback competition.
“Both guys have done a great job,” DeMatha’s seven-year head coach Elijah Brooks said. “[Tyler] was voted captain. His teammates believe in him, and hopefully his senior leadership will give us an advantage on Friday.”
Najarian and Lenhart pushed each other to improve.
“Eric and I have been really close for a while,” Lenhart said. “We love competing against each other and making each other better every day.”
Lenhart waited patiently behind All-American Beau English, who in 2016 led the Hyattsville school to three of its four-straight Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championships. English is now at the U.S. Air Force Academy.
Lenhart started one game last season for an injured English and helped lead the Stags to a 49-12 victory over Bishop McNamara. Lenhart completed 7 of 11 passes for 161 yards, one interception and two touchdowns. He also scored a rushing TD. He has received offers from Bucknell and Cornell.
All-American Tate Martell, who quarterbacked the Gaels to a 43-0 record, now plays for Ohio State. One of his new teammates is former DeMatha All-American defensive end Chase Young. Martell guided Gorman to three consecutive USA Today Super 25 national championships.
Thompson-Robinson bided his time in the Gaels’ spread offense last season as a starting wide receiver. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is adept at running and passing the ball and has committed to play for UCLA. Brooks calls him “arguably the best quarterback in the country.”
The Stags will try to stop Gorman’s high-scoring offense with several talented players. Austin Fontaine, Evan Gregory (both Maryland recruits) and John Morgan (Pittsburgh) anchor the defensive line. The linebacking corps is headed by Kobi Thomas, Mahlon Slaughter and Anthony Toro. Judson Tallandier (Pittsburgh), Naim Muhammad, Dominic Logan-Nealy and Nick Cross pace the defensive backfield.
Fontaine and Gregory also play on the Stags’ offensive line. Wide receivers include playmakers DeMarcco Hellams and Dominic Lyles. DeMatha loves to run the football, and Myles Miree and MarShawn Lloyd are the latest in a long line of talented Stags running backs.
“No matter how this game shakes out, we will be a better team because of it,” Brooks said. “We’re going to have to earn every single thing that we get out there on Friday night, and that’s the way you want it.”
DeMatha parents, friends and fans purchased about 280 tickets to attend tonight’s game. They plan to sit together in the stands and wear red.
Want to watch the game with other DeMatha fans? Ledo’s Restaurant of College Park will host a Stags watch party tonight in the bar and offer a few food and drink specials. Ledo’s has been a major supporter of DeMatha athletics since the restaurant was in Adelphi. The festivities begin at 8 p.m.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) covers DeMatha sports for the Hyattsville Life & Times.