No. 1 DeMatha takes on No. 2 St. John’s

Friday, September 30, 2016

Quarterback Beau English (No. 17) directs the DeMatha offense behind a talented offensive line. The Stags are top-ranked in the Washington area. Photo courtesy of Ed King

By Chris McManes — For local high school football fans, it doesn’t get much better than this: No. 2 St. John’s vs. No. 1 DeMatha. The winner gets the inside track on the top seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs.

Game time is 7 p.m. tonight at Marvin F. Wilson in Landover.

“It’s why you come to DeMatha — to play in these type of games,” Stags Coach Elijah Brooks said. “The game is great for the DMV area, showcasing a lot of talent. It’s great high school football. We’re excited about Friday night.”

DeMatha, ranked fourth in the nation by USA Today, comes in 5-0. St. John’s, ranked 22nd nationally, is 4-1. Both teams opened WCAC play last week with victories and feature a ton of future Division I players.

The Cadets probably have their best team in years. Offensively, they feature quarterback Kasim Hill, who has committed to play for Maryland. He and middle linebacker Arik Smith are senior transfers from Gilman School in Baltimore.

“Kasim is a good decision-maker. He can beat you with his arm or his legs,” Brooks said. “He puts their offense in the right position to make plays. Smith is a physical, downhill player. Both of those guys are a great addition to their program.”

Senior Beau English directs the Stags offense from his quarterback position. In DeMatha’s 40-0 runaway at St. John’s last season, he was 13 of 21 for 307 yards and two touchdowns. Five of his passes went for at least 29 yards. Senior Delante Hellams had three receptions for 58 yards.

The Stags led by just 6-0 at halftime before reeling off 34 straight points at rainy Fernandez Stadium. Rain and a damp field don’t bother DeMatha. It has a huge, talented offensive line and a bevy of skilled runners.

Senior Khory Spruill and sophomore Myles Miree have each rushed for more than 100 yards in games this season. Last week, in DeMatha’s 56-12 victory at St. Mary’s Ryken, freshman Marshawn Lloyd ran for 230 yards on just 11 carries.

“We always want to make sure we have talented running backs in the program,” Brooks said. “Very few Stags teams have not had a strong stable of running backs. We know who we are. If you’re a talented running back, hopefully you’re going to take a look at DeMatha. Our guys do well here.”

The Stags, who have won 21 straight in the series, have not lost to their Northwest Washington rival since 1994. Brooks said he isn’t concerned about the streak. He’s focused on tonight.

“It’s going to be a hard-fought game between two very good teams,” he said. “St. John’s is as good as we’ve seen all year. We’re really going to have our work cut out for us.”

Chris McManes writes often about DeMatha athletic teams.