- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Football team claims share of SMAC title, earns top seed in 2A South playoffs
By AJ MASON
Coming into Saturday night’s SMAC football regular season finale, head coach Luke Ethington and the McDonough football team was on a mission to achieve two goals.
Those goals were to finish undefeated at home and win a SMAC championship.
The Rams did just that in cruising to a 35-14 home victory over Calvert on senior night, claiming a share of the SMAC title with Huntingtown. It was the third SMAC title in seven seasons for McDonough, who also won crowns in 2006 and 2010.
McDonough (9-1, 7-1 SMAC), which finished a perfect 5-0 at home this season, also earned the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A South Region playoffs. It will take on No. 4 Gwynn Park of Prince George’s County at 7 p.m. Friday in the region semifinals.
With Patuxent (8-2, 6-2) falling to Leonardtown, 31-28 on Friday night, and Westlake (8-2, 6-2) losing to North Point 34-19, also on Saturday, it became a two-horse race for the SMAC crown.
Huntingtown (9-1, 7-1), which won 24-6 over host Thomas Stone on Saturday in an nonconference contest, did not play McDonough this season, so the two teams share the conference title.
“I was really pleased of how the seniors stepped up being that it was senior night,” Ethington said. “I’ve been challenging them to be leaders and that is what is going to help us in the postseason. We won every home game and are excited to be SMAC champions.”
McDonough exploded out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead that was capped by senior quarterback Devone Boone’s 68-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver James Harrell.
“Tonight we came out with a focus and we wanted the SMAC title,” said Boone, who completed 5 of 13 passes for 109 yards and also ran for 64 yards on 10 carries.
Boone hooked up with Harrell on the opening drive on an eight-yard pass to give the Rams the early 6-0 lead. Harrell, a Howard University commit, finished with six catches for 105 yards in his final regular season home game as a Ram.
“Me and Devone has been playing with each other since pound ball [St. Charles Bears], so we have that connection,” Harrell said. “It’s exciting to be SMAC champs, we are going to party tonight, but we have to take of business now for the playoffs.”
McDonough senior running back Chris Monroe help lead the balanced attack, rushing for 172 yards on 20 carries, helped set up Harrell’s first touchdown with five runs of 57 yards.
“You can’t go anywhere with the offensive line,” Monroe said. “The holes were huge tonight and I just wanted to get positive yards.”
Senior Ivan Johnson picked up one of three Calvert fumbles and returned it 29 yards to the end zone to put McDonough up 14-0 with 3 minutes 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
After Boone connected with Harrell again for 68 yards late in the first quarter, Boone showed off his running ability by scoring on a 12-yard scramble to give the Rams a 28-0 advantage.
“We had to win tonight and get the job done,” Boone said. “I’ve been throwing to James since the Bears, so I know where he wants the ball.”
Calvert junior Denzil Bonner scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 4:40 left until halftime to break up the shutout.
Calvert (6-4, 4-4) cut the deficit down two touchdowns when senior quarterback Jermaine Hunter ran for a 28-yard score with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
McDonough senior Christian Cole capped off the scoring when he bulldozed his way to a three-yard touchdown run 30 seconds into the fourth.
“Our defensive coordinator [Paul Marick] lit a fire in the defense at halftime and the team woke up in the second half,” Calvert head coach Rick Sneade. “McDonough is a great football team and we had too many turnovers. We came out flat and that hurt us.”
Hunter completed 8 of 19 passes for 115 yards and was pressured all night by the athletic Rams defense. Hunter’s favorite target on the night was senior Datavious Thomas, who caught four balls for 71 yards.
“This year was special because we learned a lot about football,” said Hunter, who also punted five times. “We worked hard this season and we did well by listening to the coaches. We had some tough games that we could have won. My senior year is not done, I now have basketball season coming up.”
Hunter was picked off twice by senior cornerback Alonte Dunn, also a Howard commit. Dunn almost intercepted a third, but the pass just went through his hands and would have been returned for a touchdown.
“The defensive backs, the linemen, and linebackers all communicated tonight,” Dunn said. “It feels good to win the SMAC title, all the hard work has paid off in the weight room, watching film and making the right reads.”
Calvert’s Cameron Edwards and Tyler Payne each picked up a fumble in the game.
“I’m excited to be a part of the program, the boys are buying into system,” said Sneade, who completes his second season. “We wanted to make the playoffs, but the boys are starting to believe and we can do a lot of great things next season.”
McDonough’s Roderick Purce and DeMonne Cox also picked up one fumble each.
Huntingtown downs Stone
The Hurricanes were looking to end their regular season on a good note and did that against Stone in a 24-6 victory on Saturday night.
The nonconference contest was moved back one day due to the effects from Hurricane Sandy.
A persistent run game and pass defense secured another victory for Huntingtown as it limited the Cougars to six points.
Huntingtown’s rushing attack proved to be the beneficiary as the Hurricanes ran the ball over 40 times for over 200 yards.
Arnez Bowens was a big factor as he contributed to over half of the Hurricanes’ rushing attempts and yardage with 184 yards on 28 tries.
Stone finishes the season at 4-6 overall with a 4-4 SMAC record. The Cougars lost their first four games of the season, won their next four, then ended the season with back-to-back losses.
Junior quarterback Kieron Morsell ran for 100 yards and completed 50 percent of his passes in the loss.
Huntingtown continues its season Friday in the region semifinal round of the Class 3A South Region playoffs. As the No. 1 seed, it will host Friendly of Prince George’s County at 7 p.m.
The winner gets the winner of third-seeded Potomac, of Prince George’s County and second-seeded Westlake in the region final round next Friday.
Northern tops Great Mills
The Patriots finished the season with a 27-20 victory on the road over the Hornets on Friday night.
Northern finishes the season with an overall record of 4-6, 4-4 SMAC.
The Northern coaching staff could not be reached for comment by press time.
Staff intern Douglas Smith contributed to this report.