There’s no doubt that high school football fans around the nation have learned that there’s some great football being played in-and-around the Washington, D.C. Beltway. Last year, DeMatha, Gilman, Gonzaga and Good Counsel spent time inside the High School Football America Top 25, with DeMatha finishing #13 and Gilman #16 in the nation.
So what does 2016 hold? It could look very similar to 2015 with DeMatha, Gonzaga, Good Counsel and St. John’s College High School battling for again for the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, which has been the property of DeMatha over the last three years.
The question this year is — can Good Counsel, which lost to DeMatha 48-17 in the WCAC title game, return to level of excellence it set from 2009 through 2012 when the Falcons won four straight conference titles? On paper, the answer in the preseason is that GC has plenty of talent to de-throne DeMatha. And, let’s not forget that Good Counsel has one of the top high school football coaches in America calling the shots.
Head coach Bob Milloy enters 2016 just one win shy of 400 career victories. Milloy’s career record of 399-118-1 has him tied for 18th on America’s all-time coaching victories list. This will be Milloy’s 16th season at the helm of the Falcons.
I asked Coach Milloy if one victory stood-out over the others — “No, I remember my first game ended in a 0-0 tie and I remember that we lost the last game we played against DeMatha…everything in between is a blur,” joked Milloy.
Good Counsel is coming-off a 7-5 season, but you have to look at how close the Falcons came to a different mark. GC, which began 2015 ranked #16 in the High School Football America Top 25, lost to nationally-ranked Gilman (36-29) and St. John’s (29-23) in overtime. The Falcons lost twice to nationally-ranked DeMatha and Gonzaga, which was nationally-ranked when they met.
On offense, the Maryland and Washington D.C. Hall of Fame coach should have plenty of firepower with the return of senior running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed for over 1,400 yards last year. Ibrahim, who is ranked as the 12th best overall college football prospect in the Class of 2017 in Maryland by 247Sports composite rankings, enters the season 774 yards shy of the school record for career rushing yards. The 5-9, 178-pound 2015 WCAC All-Conference running back, who has started since he was a sophomore, has been offered by Iowa, Kentucky, Temple and Towson.
Joining Ibrahim in the backfield is 6-4, 200 quarterback Travis Nannen, who has an Football Bowl Subdivision offer from Appalachian State. Last season, Nannen completed 91-0f-176 passes for 1,443 yards with 12 TDs and seven interceptions.
“Travis is a very smart guy,” said Milloy. “A lot of times we’ll just say ‘what do you like’ and he can really help you in that manner.”
Nannen’s favorite target should be senior wide receiver D.J. Pratt, who currently has nine scholarship offers.
Up-front, Good Counsel returns three starters – center Branden Johnson and tackles Josh Contee and Naasir Watkins. Those three average nearly 300 pounds. Johnson is ranked the 32nd best college prospect in Maryland by 247Sports.
On defense, the Falcons are led by 4-star defensive end Josh Paschal, who took part in The Opening earlier this month, and cornerback Ayinde Eley, who has given his verbal commitment to Maryland. Paschal, who still hasn’t made his college choice The rest of the secondary is strong with the return of cornerback Noah Nicholson, who’s given his verbal to Richmond, and safety Anthony Budd. At linebacker Brady Daniel, who won the 220-pound Maryland Independent Schools state championship in the spring, is back.
Milloy is also excited about his kicking game, thanks to the addition of transfer of J.T. Mitchell.
“I like we have coming back, but we need to find a couple of guards and a tight end to solidify the offensive line,” said Milloy. “We also hope as the season moves along, we got some help from members of last year’s undefeated freshman team.”
Good Counsel has a challenging schedule with non-league games against Maryland match-ups against Mount St. Joseph, Archbishop Spalding, Gilman and Bishop Sullivan from Virginia. The most challenging part may be the fact that the Falcons first six games are on the road. The good news is the Gonzaga and DeMatha games are at home.
Good Counsel Falcons 2016 Schedule
9/3 – @ Mount St. Joseph
9/9 – @ Archbishop Spalding
9/17 – @ Gilman
9/24 – @ St. John’s (Washington DC)
9/30 – @ Bishop Sullivan (Virginia)
10/8 – @ Archbishop Carroll (Washington DC)
10/14 – Bishop McNamara
10/22 – Gonzaga (Washington DC)
10/28 – St. Mary’s Ryken
11/4 – DeMatha