OWINGS MILLS, Md. - McDonogh football coach Dom Damico called last season “arguably the greatest in school history.”
It would be hard to argue that sentiment after the Eagles posted an 11-0 record en route to the MIAA A Conference championship. The run included a 37-6 victory over archrival Gilman ; a victory that ended the latter team’s two-year run as conference champion.
McDonogh wasn’t just good last season, the team was dominant. The Eagles won their six conference games by an average of 27.6 points per game. Damico knows if his team wants to remain great they can’t rest on their laurels and last year’s accomplishments.
“Last year was special, but that was last year,” Damico said. “We have to find ways to build upon that run.”
Damico said one way McDonogh plans on doing that is by playing a more difficult non-conference schedule. This includes a season-opening game Aug. 30 at Richmond, Va. private school Benedictine College Prep.
The Eagles follow that game up Sept. 5 by hosting nationally-ranked New Jersey power St. Joseph Regional. McDonogh then plays at Ohio power Elder in Cincinnati Sept. 12 at LaSalle College in Philadelphia Sept. 27.
McDonogh opens its MIAA schedule Oct. 2 vs. Mount St. Joseph in the school’s first nighttime game ever at McDonogh Stadium.
“We could be 0-4 or 4-0 heading into conference play,” Damico said. “But when you beat Gilman like we did, you have to up your schedule, which we felt like we did. Either way, we feel like we will be ready for conference play and winning the MIAAs is our ultimate goal.”
McDonogh’s run toward another title will be aided by having more than 30 players returning in 2014. This includes Maryland-bound left tackle Ellis McKennie and Purdue-bound linebacker Wyatt Cook.
“We had a very rewarding season, especially beating Gilman like we did,” McKennie said. “It had been a long time since we beat them. But, we can’t forget the work it took to get to that point.”
Cook said last season was a culmination of two to three years of hard work.
“We need to stay humble,” Cook said. “We can’t get complacent or else we will be on the wrong end of many of those games this year.”
- Aug. 30: at Benedictine College Prep, 1 p.m.
- Sept. 5: vs. St. Joseph Regional, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 12: at Elder, 7 p.m.
- Sept. 27: at LaSalle College, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 2: vs. Mount St. Joseph, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 10: at Calvert Hall College, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 18: at Loyola Blakefield, 2 p.m.
- Oct. 24: vs. St. Frances, 7 p.m.
- Oct. 31: vs. Archbishop Spalding, 7 p.m.
- Nov. 8: at Gilman School, 2 p.m.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Jansen Durham (QB, 6-1, 170, Jr.)
- Justin Hawkins (RB, 5-11, 200, Sr.)
- Mike Cornwell (WR, 6-5, 220, Sr.)
- Ellis McKennie (OT, 6-4, 310, Sr.)
- Kareem Montgomery (WR, 5-10, 180, Sr.).
- Wyatt Cool (LB, 6-3, 235, Sr.)
- Connor Young (LB, 5-11, 200, Sr.)
- Eric Burrell (FS, 6-0, 189, Jr. )
- Josh Richardson (LB, 6-2, 235, Sr.)
- Akeem Myers Blakney (SS, 5-11, 200, Sr.)