By CHRIS McMANES — DeMatha freshman quarterback Cameron Edge made his first start Nov. 16. It is likely the first of many.
Edge displayed his toughness, composure and strong arm throughout the Stags’ 34-20 loss at No. 1 St. John’s in the opening round of the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs. He led scoring drives of 80 and 84 yards.
“I think Cam did great. I’m very, very proud of him,” DeMatha Coach Bill McGregor said. “He’s a ninth-grader, and for him to step into the role and do what he did, I can’t ask for anything more of him.
“I think he’s going to be outstanding someday. I know he’ll work at it. We’ll get better with him, and he’ll get better as a player.”
Playing from behind nearly the entire game, Edge completed 14 of 26 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. His finest drive came late in the second quarter when he led the Stags on an 84-yard march to narrow the Cadets’ lead to 17-7. He was 5 of 6 for 52 yards, including a 25-yard strike and a 3-yard TD to Sieh Bangura.
Edge didn’t find out he was starting over senior Malakai Anthony until just before the Stags’ walk-through Saturday. DeMatha, now ranked fifth by The Washington Post, closes the season 7-4.
“I think I did OK. We missed some things, but that’s just how the game went,” Edge said. “We fought through rough times, but at the end of the day, we just didn’t make the plays we needed to in certain situations. We’ll be back.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Edge said he thinks starting and playing the entire game will benefit him moving forward.
“I think this is a very big experience,” he said. “You learn a lot of things starting for the first time.”
After St. John’s took a 3-0 lead, the Stags lost the ball when senior MarShawn Lloyd fumbled. The Cadets scored a play later on a 19-yard TD pass from Sol-Jay Maiava to Caleb Combs. St. John’s punctuated its next possession by traversing 80 yards, culminating in Antwain Littleton’s 7-yard run to surge ahead, 17-0, with 3:54 to go before halftime.
The Red and Blue went into the break trailing 17-7.
Following a 36-yard kickoff return, the Cadets began the second half at midfield. They moved to the DeMatha 9 before the Stags stopped them on fourth-and-inches.
Edge’s 12-yard completion to Josh Dodd brought the ball to the 20. Lloyd then went 80 yards down the left sideline to bring DeMatha to within 17-14.
The Stags would get no closer.
“I think we had them on the ropes a little bit,” McGregor said. “Then we’ve got to make the stop defensively, and we didn’t do it. That’s what happens when you’ve got two pretty good teams and guys competing against each other.
“To win championships, you’ve got to do the little things to make the big plays.”
Following a three-and-out by DeMatha, Colby McDonald rushed 59 yards to the Stags 2. Littleton scored from a yard out to push St. John’s advantage to 24-14 at the 2:48 mark of the third quarter.
Edge proceeded to guide DeMatha downfield 80 yards to pay dirt. The Cadets were penalized for holding and a personal foul, Lloyd had a 15-yard run and Edge completed a 17-yard screen pass to Bangura and a 16-yarder to Jaden Bradley.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Lloyd scored untouched from the 1. The extra point was no good, leaving the Stags down 24-20. St. John’s responded with 10 points on its next two possessions.
“We came out and made plays at times. We just didn’t make enough,” McGregor said. “Anytime you have two heavyweight teams playing against each other, it’s going to be who makes the big play. And they made more big plays than we did.
“I was very proud of how we competed. … The kids did a lot of good things. We just didn’t finish.”
Robert Jones couldn’t hang on to a long pass from Edge that would have resulted in a 30-plus-yard gain beyond midfield. Edge was sacked on fourth down, and the Cadets ran out the clock. St. John’s dropped Edge three times in the Stags’ final two possessions.
“We passed the ball a lot this game,” he said. “Being a young freshman, they were going to try to blitz me. Most of the time, we picked it up. But at the end of the game, they got to me a few times.”
Edge, from Smyrna, Del., has a bright future under center for the Stags.
“He made a couple mistakes here and there,” DeMatha senior and Penn State recruit Coziah Izzard said. “but he’s going to turn out to be a really good quarterback.”
NOTES – Sophomore defensive back Cole Donaldson was taken off the field by ambulance in the second quarter after 275-pound running back Antwain Littleton inadvertently kneed him in the back. Donaldson sustained avulsion fractures to three lumbar vertebrae but will not need surgery. In this type of injury, part of the bone is pulled away from the main bone mass. Donaldson, from Church Hill, Md., is expected to return to school this week and could be ready to play lacrosse in the spring. … Senior running back MarShawn Lloyd withdrew from DeMatha on Nov. 19 so he can graduate from high school early and attend South Carolina in time for the spring semester. He will finish school online.
Chris McManes (mick-maynz) just completed his fifth season covering DeMatha football.