DeMatha head football coach Elijah Brooks discusses season opener against Hillside Durham (NC).
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA) -- Their season opener is on August 31, almost a month away, but for the DeMatha Stags it might as well be tomorrow. For the first time since 2008, the football team will be traveling out of state -- kicking off the season in North Carolina against Hillside Durham.
Saturday night at Looney's Pub, coaches and players gathered to hype-up the game and recruit fans and family members to hit the road with the team.
"Many of the coaches, we've played college ball and we've played in away games, so we're going to treat this as a college away game for our boys," said DeMatha head coach Elijah Brooks. "We're going to keep them focused, keep them on a regimen, but I can't tell you how they're going to react to it because they've never done it before."
Last year, DeMatha, which has been a national football powerhouse for decades, went 6-4 after falling to Gonzaga, 28-27, in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC) semifinal. It was the first time the team hasn't played in the conference championship game since 1996.
This season, the Stags are hungry for victory. The players want an undefeated season.
"We're light years away from where we were this time last year ... We're going to work really hard to uphold that success," said Brooks of DeMatha's reputation.
The Stags are young this year, but the players aren't inexperienced. Brooks' sophomores and juniors clocked serious playing time last year and the college looks they're getting -- especially from the Class of 2014 -- prove the Stags will be legitimate contenders in the WCAC this season.
Junior wide receiver Cameron Phillips, who grew up in North Carolina and
says he's excited to see family members during the team's trip, already has an
offer from Virginia. Junior linebacker Spencer Kleinrichert has an offer from Massachusetts and is drawing interest from Maryalnd, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Notre Dame.
For the players -- age isn't a concern.
"We don't think about how young we are," said junior running back Taiwan Deal. "We were young last year and we still accomplished [a lot] ... we just continue to work hard."