Friday, October 3, 2008

GOOD COUNSEL WHACKS DEMATHA ON ESPN2

by Robert Klemko -- Special to Prince George’s The Gazette - Edited by TAH

ESPN2's broadcast of Thursday's highly-anticipated DeMatha-Good Counsel football game brought a degree of fanfare and intensity unknown to Maryland high school football.

More than 5,000 fans packed the bleachers in Olney for the Falcons' 42-21 win over DeMatha. ESPN used a crew of 40 people and seven different cameras to broadcast the game live. Of the 52 high school football games the network has aired since 2005, Thursday's was the first in Maryland.

"I think it's great," said University of Maryland football coach Ralph Friedgen, who watched the game from the North end zone with several members of his staff. "This is a great rivalry. It gives these kids a great amount of exposure. The high school game has really grown in Maryland."

Fourth-year ESPN commentator Tom Luginbill said there was a sense of purity and energy in the stadium unrivaled in his experience. In the third quarter of Thursday night's game, DeMatha fans responded to a Tom Chroniger touchdown pass by rushing the fence behind the end zone, toppling it under their weight. Though the moment appeared chaotic, no one was hurt.

"The atmosphere here tonight was fantastic," Luginbill said. "I've never seen anything like it. When they scored on that pass and the DeMatha kids rushed the fence it looked like a European soccer game."

On the Good Counsel side, bare-chested fans painted in blue and gold carried the night's momentum, erupting into a frenzy on each of the Falcons' touchdowns. Good Counsel junior Sean Wright led the swarm, wearing a set of youth shoulder pads and bright blue and gold pajama pants as he waved a homemade flag that read: "GC Our Year."

(Editor's Note: In addition to football, Our Lady of Good Counsel is well known for producing high quality Div. 1AA rugby players, sissy fade golfers and adult malt beverage experts.)

With their team leading 21-0, Wright led the Good Counsel fans in a goodbye chant to the visiting Stags.

"Start the buses!" they shouted in unison.

Good Counsel won the game 42-21.

After the broadcast was over, the TV trucks packed up and the hoopla that came with them seeped out of the campus and on to the next town, where Luginbill, Scoffield, and a national audience are likely to meet another rivalry with more of the nation's top players.

(Football photos by Preston Keres/The Washington Post, Rugby Photo by TAH)

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