BY CHRIS McMANES — When DeMatha kept Avalon out of the end zone on its final drive Friday night, it did more than preserve the Stags’ 28-0 victory.
“It’s always a big goal of ours, to get a goose egg (shutout),” senior linebacker/tight end Anthony Toro said. “We actually celebrate it by having donuts on Sunday.”
The win at Wilson Stadium in Landover was especially sweet for DeMatha, which was playing without one of its top running backs and starting quarterback. Myles Miree and Sieh Bangura combined for 131 of the Stags’ 168 yards rushing as DeMatha scored all its points in the first half. Both teams are 1-1.
“We got off to a pretty good start,” Stags seven-year head coach Elijah Brooks said. “Ultimately, we’ll take a win however we can get it.”
Eric Najarian stepped in at quarterback for Tyler Lenhart, who sat out with a virus but is expected back next week. Najarian, making his first varsity start, finished 11 of 20 for 140 yards, two interceptions and one touchdown. He didn’t try to do too much, instead relying on his teammates.
“I wanted to pretty much keep everything the same, not change anything,” Najarian said. “In situations like mine, you always have to be ready, always have to be prepared. Just go out there and execute.”
Miree, a 5-foot-8, 182-pound junior, carried the ball 20 times for 94 yards. He scored DeMatha’s first TD on a 4-yard run to cap a 10-play, 87-yard drive. Bangura, a 5-11, 194-pound freshman, added 37 yards on nine totes and scored twice.
“Myles is already established as a good runner,” Najarian said. “I think Sieh really showed everyone what his talents are today. They were a great duo.”
Anthony Toro was Najarian’s favorite passing target. The senior, who has several Division I scholarship offers, caught three passes for 68 yards, both team highs. His 21-yard TD reception in the second quarter gave the Stags a 21-0 lead.
DeMatha defensive end/tight end John Morgan Jr. sacked Avalon quarterback Aaron Gibson twice on the Black Knights’ next-to-last drive of the first half. The possession ended with Dominic Logan-Nealy’s interception. His 39-yard return brought the ball to the Avalon 16.
Bangura scored the Stags’ final TD from 3 yards out with 44 seconds to go before halftime.
Brooks had to guard his team against an emotional letdown. DeMatha played on ESPN in Las Vegas last week in a 35-23 loss at national power Bishop Gorman.
“We made sure that we prepared just like we would any other week,” Brooks said. “Obviously, the atmosphere is a little different. But I thought our guys did a good job coming out and playing as hard as they possibly could.”
Toro echoed his coach.
“We definitely prepared hard this week,” he said. “We knew that just because it’s not a nationally ranked team that we still had to play our game and come out hard, which we did. And that’s why it was 28 to nothing.”
About those donuts: Toro was asked if the team has them following shutout victories because a donut is shaped like a zero.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “I wasn’t here when it first started, but I’ve been enjoying that tradition.”
The Stags will host Franklin High School (Reisterstown, Md.) on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. It will be DeMatha’s second of six straight home games.
Talented running back to return
Marshawn Lloyd, who broke a bone in his left forearm in the season opener, is expected back in three to five weeks. He had a 30-yard touchdown run against Bishop Gorman. His return would put him back in the thick of the Stags’ Washington Catholic Athletic Conference schedule.
DeMatha entered the game ranked No. 1 locally (The Washington Post) and No. 10 nationally (USA Today).