H.D. Woodsons Kenny Crawley, a Tennessee recruut, hopes to lead the Warriors… (Mark Gail/THE WASHINGTON…)
Games to watch: DCIAA semifinals Saturday at Cardozo, 2 and 4:30
The pairings in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs are the same for the second straight year. The personalities of the teams, however, have changed. Coolidge’s high octane offense faces three-time champion H.D. Woodson’s talented defense. A young Ballou team faces and an experienced Dunbar squad, last season’s DCIAA runner-up.
In Saturday’s first game, H.D. Woodson (6-4) will face a stiff test in Coolidge (7-2). The Colts are averaging 37 points a game, scoring less than three touchdowns only twice this season. Quarterback Femi Bamiro has two dangerous options in 6-foot-4 receiver Dayon Pratt, an East Carolina recruit, and a shifty receiver Fellonte Misher, a 6-foot Old Dominion recruit.
The Coolidge attack will be without speedy running back Stacy Lipkins, who broke his fibula in the third quarter of last week’s season finale, a 43-42 overtime loss to Dunbar.
“We want this more than anything,” Pratt said. “We’ve come so far.”
The Warriors counter with a defense, especially a secondary, with several Football Bowl Subdivision players. The defensive line is anchored by senior All-Met De’Jon Wilson, a Kansas recruit. The secondary is led by senior Kenny Crawley (Tennessee) and senior John Walker (who has two BCS offers), and sophomore D’Andre Payne (who also sports BCS offers).
“The game will come down to our defense just like it has all season,” Walker said. “They have some tall receivers.”
In the day’s second game, Ballou (3-3-1) will look to upset Dunbar (7-3). The young Knights haven’t played in two weeks due to a forfeit last week. The team is led by senior receiver-linebacker Dontray Crawford and will rely on junior running back-defensive back Daywone Wright, who has emerged recently with two 100-yard rushing performances in the past four games.
“To win, we have to stop the run and put up points on offense,” Crawford said. “We’ve been working in practice on stopping Curlee (Walker) and Olu (Izegwire.)”
Run-heavy Dunbar, the DCIAA’s second-highest scoring team after Coolidge, counters with its two-back attack of Olu Izegwire and Curlee Walker. The senior running backs have combined for 1,561 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. . . .
St. John’s enters the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference playoffs on a three-game losing streak, having lost to each of the other teams in the league’s postseason tournament.
However, the Cadets (4-5) have reason to be optimistic: They have led at halftime in each of those games, including a 28-14 loss to top-ranked Good Counsel on Oct. 22. Those teams meet again Friday night in Olney.
“We’ve been competitive in all three games and I think the kids believe in what we’re doing,” St. John’s Coach Joe Patterson said. “Each game has just been a matter of making one or two more plays.”
Quarterback Ben Onett missed the Good Counsel game because of an ankle injury and returned last week. He completed 6 of 11 passes for 46 yards in a 13-10 overtime loss to Gonzaga as the Cadets struggled to find a n offensive rhythm. Their only touchdown came on a 92-yard kickoff return by Zach Quarles.
The other WCAC semifinal matches DeMatha at Gonzaga on Saturday, the first home playoff game for the Eagles since their 2002 championship season. Gonzaga won the teams’ regular season meeting, 17-9, on Oct. 29, but DeMatha was without nine players in that game played on a rainy day, including its top three running backs and one of its defensive leaders. All of those players are expected to be in the lineup Saturday. …
In the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division 1 semifinals, Flint Hill (7-2) plays at Liberty Christian (9-0) of Lynchburg on Friday night, while Ireton (8-2) hosts St. Christopher’s (8-2) of Richmond on Saturday afternoon.