Big Win for Coolidge and the DCIAA
Without question, the most impressive showing by a DCIAA football team last week came from Coolidge, which went down to Fort Washington, spotted Friendly a 14-0 halftime lead, and came back to win, 16-14, as new quarterback Anthony Bowser ran and passed for a touchdown each in the fourth quarter.
This was a huge victory not just for the Colts (who were coming off a season-opening 34-6 loss at North Canton (Ohio) Hoover, which ended in the third quarter because of lightning), but also for the DCIAA, as a whole. The league often gets panned by outsiders, who claim its talent imbalance makes it uncompetitive, and the regular season is just a formality until the top two teams – most often Dunbar and H.D. Woodson - get to face one another in the Turkey Bowl.
DCIAA teams are put in a very tough position. The schools’ athletic departments operate on very thin budgets, and football teams, the schools’ top revenue producers, know they can schedule games against opponents outside of the Washington area for a predetermined guarantee that ranges anywhere from $1,500 to upwards of $5,000. Schedule two or three of those games each year, and that can buy you a lot of equipment necessary to keep your program running.
But, at the same time, when teams come back from these games with cash in hand, they often also have a loss, sometimes an ugly one. Since peers in the Washington area have no idea how good these teams in Ohio, Pennsylvania or West Virginia are relative to them, they assume, “Hey, one of the better DCIAA teams just got beat by four touchdowns by some school out in Ohio. They must not be that good.” When this happens time after time to each DCIAA team that schedules a guarantee, it has a very detrimental effect on the league’s perception. Some teams occasionally schedule strong Washington-area opponents, but are seldom close. Dunbar had a two-year contract to play Good Counsel in 2007 and ’08, while Woodson played DeMatha in 2004 and ’05. The DCIAA lost all four games, none decided by fewer than 26 points.
So, give Coolidge a lot of credit for scheduling this game. Friendly is hardly a walkover, even if it may not have the talent it had a couple of years ago when the Patriots went undefeated en route to the 2006 Maryland 3A title. The game came about when John Morgan took over at Friendly prior to last season after coaching at Fort Valley State and North Carolina Central the previous four years. He had recruited the area, and knew many local coaches. Coolidge's Jason Lane told him that if Friendly needed a game to give him a call. The two will play next year at Coolidge.
“I believe in playing the toughest opponents you can get,” Lane said, “because it makes you better the next time you play someone tough.”
We’ll see if that holds true this week. Coolidge hosts Ballou on Friday night. The Knights have outscored their first two opponents, 76-16, to start 2-0 for the first time this decade.
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