DEMATHA LOOKS TO REGAIN THE WCAC CROWN

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Top: DeMatha senior quarterback Eric Najarian (Michael Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel.

Bottom: DeMatha running back Marshawn Lloyd (Michael Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel

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HYATTSVILLE – DeMatha Catholic High School has had one of the best athletic programs in the country for the better part of a century. Over the past fifteen years, DeMatha has won ten Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championships, with four of those championships coming within the past five years.

Despite their success during that span, they were in unfamiliar territory last year. Last season, DeMatha posted their worst regular season record in over a decade with a 6-5 record.

The Stags went on to the playoffs but were knocked out in the first round by eventual champion St John’s College High School. It was their first time not making it to the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) championship game since 2011.

Even though their backs are against the wall, DeMatha believes that they can regain their top spot in the WCAC and vie for another championship trophy.

“I think it’s all in our preparation,” DeMatha Head Coach Elijah Brooks said.  “We obviously set our goals high at the beginning of the year.  We want to win a conference championship, but the margin of error in the WCAC is extremely thin.

“Everything we do from film study to practicing hard every day to execution, it all matters when you go against talented teams. We have the talent, and we have the personnel, we have the coaching staff to do it.

“Now we just have to come out and be ready to go.  We want to win a conference championship.”

DeMatha will enter the season losing five starters on defense and on offense.  However, the most significant transition will be senior quarterback Eric Najarian taking over as the starting quarterback position after starting the second half of the season last year.

After last season’s starting quarterback Tyler Lenhart completed seven of 19 passes for 54 yards in a game against Gonzaga last season, Najarian took over as the starter. This time, Najarian will start the season as the man under center.

“Nothing changes for me as far as the preparation for this season because when you’re a backup quarterback, you have to prepare as a starter,” Najarian said. “When you get thrust into a starting role, you have to be prepared when that time comes.”

In seven games last season, Najarian threw for 655 yards, six touchdowns, three interceptions and completed 50 percent of his passes. Despite this being his first season as the starter in training camp, Najarian has high hopes for this unit for the upcoming season.

“I really want us to play as a team and come together with what we have done so far in camp,” Najarian said. “Our goal is to really just go 1-0 every week and figure the rest of it out as it goes.

“I think I need to just lead the team, push them every day and just get better.  I know we have plenty of playmakers and I need to just get the ball in their hands. We have a great offensive line up front. I really look forward to this season with this team.  Our strength is just coming out here every day as a team.  I honestly don’t see weak point for us.”

One of Najarian’s targets this season will be senior wide receiver Jermaine Johnson Jr.  Johnson lead the team in receiving yards (400) and receptions (23) last season and believes this team can get back on track this season if they work together.

“My expectations for this year are for us to be a team, actually work together and to complete the goal of going 1-0 every week,” Johnson said.  “We are competitive. Everybody wants to be on that starting lineup.  Everybody wants to be better than the next person.  I believe if everybody on the team has that same mentality that could go a long way for us and probably give us a better outcome than the season last year. We just need to communicate.”

Senior safety DeMarcco Hellams has been with the DeMatha varsity football team since he was a freshman.

In 2019, he will take his talents to the infamous and arguably the best college football program in the world, the University of Alabama. Hellams wants to leave a lasting impression his senior year and show Alabama why they made the right choice in recruiting him.

“The goal is to win a WCAC championship,” Hellams said. “The difference this year from last year is that we have a better mindset and we don’t feel entitled to win a championship. I know last year we didn’t win it, but before that, we won four straight.

We just got to come in and work hard so what happened last year won’t happen again. It helps that we’re all brothers and we hang out with each other off the field and that we care for each other on and off the field.  No matter how good we think we are, there is always room for improvement.  We got to make sure that everybody is doing their job and that nobody is trying to be a hero. Just sticking to the game plan and making plays when the time comes.”

DOUGLASS LOOKS TO MAKE AN IMPACT RIGHT AWAY

 

2018-19 NBA SCHEDULE IS HERE!!!

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The moment NBA fans have been waiting for is finally here; the release of the 2018-19 schedule for the upcoming season.  With opening night around the corner on October 16, here are some games that you don’t want to miss:

February 22: Spurs at Raptors, 7 PM ET.  DeMar DeRozan had this game circled since the schedule came out.  He was blindsided by Toronto’s management and on this night he will get this revenge.  This is a must watch game as he may go off for 50.  

January 3: Raptors at Spurs, 8 PM ET.  After helping them to multiple successful season, Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green return to San Antonio as the opposing team.  

November 21: Lakers at Cavaliers, 8 PM ET.  LeBron returns to the O…..again.  

October 31: Pelicans at Warriors, 1030 PM ET.  DeMarcus Cousins will face his former team after joining a super team and making them basically unbeatable. 

January 14:  Hornets at Spurs, 830 PM ET.  Tony Parker returns to San Antonio as visitor for first time in his career.

November 8: Rockets at Thunder, 8 PM ET.  Its time for Carmelo Anthony to show that last season was a fluke and that he is still a offensive threat.  

March 18: Nuggets at Boston, 730PM ET.  Since his MVP type run in Boston, Isaiah Thomas is now with his second team in two years.  What better game to prove he’s still a threat then against the team that did him dirty.  

November 30: Hawks at Thunder, 8 PM ET.  After the Hawks called Dennis Schroder their future and basically franchise player, they gave him away for the younger Trae Young.  Lets see how Young plays against the combination of Westbrook and Schroder and if the Hawks made the right move.  

February 22: Wizards at Hornets, 7 PM ET.  Dwight Howard faces old team with something to prove.

November 16: Bulls at Bucks, 930 PM ET.  After injury-filled seasons in Milwaukee, Jabari Parker returns with hometown team to show he can still ball.  

December 20: Mavericks at Clippers, 730 PM ET.  After signing with the Mavericks for real this time, DeAndre Jordan returns to Los Angeles.  

October 28: Wizards at Clippers, 930 PM ET.  After some tension the last couple seasons in the locker room, let’s see how the Wizards play without Gortat.  Austin Rivers will also like to prove he doesn’t need his father to be successful. 

December 21: Pelicans at Lakers, 1030 PM ET.  The Lakers decided to part ways with Julius Randle.  This is a chance to show them they made a mistake.  

November 15: Warriors/Rockets, 8 PM ET.  The Rockets were up 3-2 in the Western Conference before Chris Paul went down with an injury.  The Warriors on the next two games and went on to win the back-to-back championships.  With the Warriors adding DeMarcus Cousins and the Rockets adding Carmelo Anthony, which team has the upper hand now??  

February 7: Lakers/Celtics, 8 PM ET.  The Lakers/Celtics rivalry is back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIVAS COME UP SHORT IN WFA CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP

WFA Football Eastern Conference Championship: Boston Renegades-DC Divas

Landover, MD, Saturday, July 14, 2018: Amanda Congialdi (6) of DC Divas scrambles and looks downfield for a receiver during the WFA Eastern Conference Championship game held at Marvin F. Wilson Stadium in Landover, MD. (Michael R. Smith/The Prince George’s Sentinel).

LANDOVER – The D.C. Divas and Boston Renegades rivalry continued on July 14 in Landover, MD at The Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex during the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) Division I Eastern Conference championship game.

It was the ninth playoff meeting between the two organizations over the past 10 years and last Saturday night showed the storied rivalry of these two powerhouses.

After a slow start by the Divas in the first half, D.C. rebounded in the second half to make it a more competitive game. However, for the second straight season, the Renegades knocked the Divas out of the playoffs in a nailbiter (34-32).

“We’ve seen this all year,” D.C. Divas Head Coach Greg Gaskins said. “We woke up in the second half. In the first game when they came down here, they were up 14 at halftime, and we ended up waking up in the second half and winning. The same thing happened here. It was just that they made a few more plays in the second half then we did. At the end of the day, we played 30 minutes, they played 60, and that’s what shows on the scoreboard.”

In the first quarter, both teams were evenly matched. Each squad missed out on tremendous opportunities as they respectively drove down the field. The Divas had their only turnover of the game halfway through the first, and the Renegades had a touchdown called back by a penalty, which led to a missed field goal. That left the score knotted at zero at the end of the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Boston outscored the Divas 21-7 as quarterback Allison Cahill threw four touchdowns, with two of those tosses to wide receiver Stephanie Pascual. The Divas had no answer for the fast-paced offensive attack of the Renegades and went into halftime down by two scores (21-7).

To add insult to injury, the Divas star running back D’Ajah Scott went down with a leg injury with 1:46 left in the second quarter.

“In the first half, we definitely came out flat,” said Divas linebacker Safi Mojidi, who led D.C. with 10 tackles. “We have a terrible habit of coming out flat. Defensively, I think we had some miscues. We practiced the past two weeks going over scouting tapes and watching film. We were very well-prepared, but there were some miscues, dropped personnel, and we didn’t take care of business like we should have in the first half.”

With 6:06 left in the third quarter and the score still 21-7, Scott, who had the team’s only touchdown, returned to the game. On that same drive, she checked back into the game, and the Divas scored on a quick one-yard quarterback sneak play by Amanda Congialdi to cut the deficit to 21-13. However, Boston responded right back with a score of their own that extended the Renegades lead to 28-13. With 46 seconds left in the frame, Congialdi scored her second touchdown of the game with a two-yard pass to running back Courtney Smith. As they headed into the final quarter, the Divas trailed 28-20.

“The game plan for us was to establish the run,” Congialdi said. “I think they knew our game plan was to establish the run, so in the second half, we decided to spread them out and go wide. That way, we were able to take advantage of the secondary.”

At the start of the fourth quarter, the Divas got the break that they needed. The Renegades muffed a punt, and D.C. recovered the ball. Defense leads to offense, and the Divas took advantage of that opportunity as Congialdi scored her third touchdown of the game.

However, the Divas missed out on the two-point conversion chance, which made the score 28-26. Every time the Divas scored, the Renegades came right back with an answer. Cahill threw her fourth touchdown of the night, which increased Boston’s lead yet again (34-26). Boston missed the extra point, however, which left the door wide open for the Divas to make one more push to score.

With 4:22 left in the fourth quarter, Congialdi delivered her fourth touchdown of the night with a strike over the middle to wide receiver Lois Cook, which made it a two-point game. The Divas had no choice but to go for another two-point conversion attempt but came up short once again. The Renegades got the ball back with a 34-32 lead, and after multiple first downs, they ended the Divas season for the second straight year.

After a quiet first half, wide receiver Kentrina Wilson had a big second half and ended the game with seven catches for 144 yards but unfortunately could not find the endzone. On the defensive end, Mojidi led the Divas with 10 tackles, and linebacker Tia Watkins had nine tackles. Cahill led the Renegades with four touchdowns.

“When we had a wide receiver open, that was a missed opportunity, but we came back and scored the next play,” Gaskins said. “Offensively, we missed a few passes. If we hit a couple of those passes, there’s more time on the clock. That’s what happens when you miss those passes, and you miss time.

Defensively, we missed tackles. It wasn’t that we were always out of place. We had people in place, but at the end of the day, you got to make a play.”

D.C. DIVAS LOOK FOR REVENGE AGAINST BOSTON RENEGADES

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June 30, 2018 – Landover Maryland, – DC Divas Amanda Congialdi looks attempts a pass during the WFA (Women’s Football Alliance) playoff matchup between the Atlanta Phoenix and the Washington Divas at the Prince George’s Sports Complex. (Credit Image: Chris Thompkins/The Prince George’s County Sentinel)

LANDOVER – On July 14, the D.C. Divas will play in their third Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) National Conference Championship game in four years.

On Saturday, they have a shot at getting revenge against the team that beat them in the playoffs last season. The Boston Renegades took down the Divas 27-24 in the National Conference Semifinal game just a year ago.

Over the past three seasons, either the Divas or Renegades have made it to the WFA National Championship game, and after this weekend, one of them will be returning to play for another championship.

These two powerhouses have had an intense rivalry since the Renegades became a franchise in 2015. The Divas were dominant at first, winning the first three matchups. However, the Renegades swept the Divas last season with three wins over them. This season, they have split the games with one win for each squad.

It will be the third consecutive playoff matchup between the two, with each side getting a victory over the other further amplifying the dislike for each other.

The Divas have won six straight games while the Renegades’ last three wins have all been shutouts. Both teams ended the regular season with a 6-2 record and won their National Conference Semifinal games with ease. The Divas enjoyed a 56-0 blowout win over the Atlanta Phoenix and look to build off of that momentum.

“I think one of the things that we do really well is that we stick together,” Divas quarterback Amanda Congialdi said about her team. “We shut out any drama or any issues, and we hold our composure. Our experience of playing together is also what drives us.”

First-Team All-Americans have led the Divas in Congialdi, running back D’Ajah Scott and wide receiver Kentrina “Megatron” Wilson.

Congialdi boasted an 83.3 passer rating and one of her favorite targets was Wilson who had 41 receptions for 544 receiving yards and eight touchdowns.

Rounding out the All-American offensive trio and the catalyst of their last playoff game is Scott, who rushed for seven touchdowns during the regular season and rushed for 240 yards in the opening playoff round against Atlanta.

“We need to strengthen our pass game, including pass blocking, a little more and we will take the cake from there,” Scott said.

These three have led the Divas to an offense that averages 334 total offensive yards per game and 38.6 points per game.

On the defensive end, the Divas will have their hands full with the tandem of Renegades First-Team All-Americans in quarterback Allison Cahill and wide receiver Emily Beinecke. Cahill finished the regular season with 1,308 passing yards and 16 total touchdowns.

Beinecke had 30 receptions for 469 receiving yards and five touchdowns.

Although the Renegades have won four of the past five matchups, the Divas have the momentum and home-field advantage. Despite a dominant victory over the Phoenix, every player knows that there is still work to be done if they want to make it to Atlanta, Georgia. for the WFA National Championship game.