2003 All-County Football Defensive Team: Roosevelt, DeMatha defenses stole the show
by Ted Black, Derek Toney, Terron Hampton and Adam Rubenstein
It is an overused phrase, to be sure, but the old cliche’ that defense wins championships was evident in Prince George’s County this past fall. DeMatha rolled to a 12-0 record and the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, allowing a measly 54 points in the process. Five Stags’ opponents failed to score, and in the league title game, DeMatha held Gonzaga (D.C.) to just a field goal in a 23-3 triumph.
Meanwhile, in Greenbelt, Eleanor Roosevelt set a new county record and fell one game short of tying the state mark by engineering six consecutive shutouts. Defense didn’t win a championship for Roosevelt, which fell to eventual state 4A champ Damascus in the state semifinals. But defense certainly was a hallmark for county teams in 2003. Here is the Star⁄Gazette First-Team Defense:
Thomas Claggett, Frederick Douglass, senior, lineman — Claggett was the best all-around player on a defense that helped the Eagles to a perfect regular season. He tallied 79 tackles, including 16 for losses, and also had eight sacks and two fumble recoveries.
Tre Covington, Eleanor Roosevelt, senior, lineman — One of Roosevelt’s feared front four, Covington collected 112 tackles, 20 sacks, forced three fumbles, batted down three passes and blocked one punt this season. Rated as the fifth-best defensive end in the nation by Rivals 100, Covington has verbally committed to attend the University of Maryland next fall on a football scholarship.
Barrington Little, DeMatha, senior, lineman — One of five Stags selected on the WCAC defensive first team, Little shored up the middle of DeMatha’s line this campaign. The 6-3, 305-pound Little had 67 tackles, helping the Stags post five shutouts and allowed 53 points en route to a 12-0 season.
Daniel Morgan, Frederick Douglass, senior, linebacker — Morgan had the potential to change the game from the defensive side. The senior led the team with 94 tackles and made opposing offenses feel he was omnipresent. Morgan added two sacks, three interceptions and numerous tackles for a loss.
David Robinson, Surrattsville, senior, linebacker — The Hornets’ eye-catching turnaround in the win⁄loss column was led defensively by Robinson. The Hornets went 5-5 and were in playoff contention up until the final two weeks of the season, after winning just two games the previous two campaigns. Robinson led the county in tackles every week of the regular season, finishing with 147, and four sacks. He has received interest from Syracuse, Boston College, Kent State and Marshall.
Brandon Hawkins, Gwynn Park, senior, linebacker — Maintaining the Brandywine school’s tradition for top linebackers, Hawkins was among the top tacklers in the county with 149. He also an interception and nine sacks, helping the Yellow Jackets (11-2 this season) to a fourth consecutive visit to the playoffs. Hawkins, who is competing in indoor track this winter, has received football interest from Morgan State, Bowie State, Hofstra and Buffalo.
Steve Smith, Eleanor Roosevelt, senior, linebacker — Another key component in the Raiders’ stingy defense, Smith led the county with 154 tackles. A starter in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams, for the Raiders, Smith is being recruited by Brown, Bucknell, Columbia, Cornell, Davidson, Delaware, Marshall, Richmond, Temple and William & Mary. A defensive team captain, Smith also started at offensive guard.
Anthony Tillman, DeMatha, senior, linebacker — Tillman was at the center of stingy Stags unit that dominated some of the region’s top teams this fall. An All-WCAC first-team selection, Tillman (6-feet, 220) led the Stags with 111 tackles (84 solo) and had eight quarterback sacks. DeMatha allowed only 46 points against the likes of Gonzaga and Good Counsel in the WCAC.
Eugene Chop, Flowers, senior, linebacker — One of the key defensive players on a Jaguars’ squad that displayed considerable stinginess all season, Chop had 80 solo tackles, 20 assists and one sack. He was equally capable of playing against the run and the pass for the Jaguars. Also served as Flowers’ punter during the season, averaging better than 33 yards per punt.
Derrick Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, junior, defensive back — One of the most explosive players in the county, Williams could have made first team for any number of positions. As the Raiders’ quarterback, Williams rushed for 1,362 yards and 22 touchdowns on 163 carries while completing 30 of 58 pass attempts for 557 yards and seven touchdowns. He returned 14 punts for 396 yards and two touchdowns and intercepted three passes and returned one of them for a score.
Andre Jones, Forestville, senior, defensive back — Jones was all over the field for the Knights. He had 60 tackles and blocked three kicks that would either have tied or won a game. Headed to Boston College on a football scholarship, Brown tallied more than 2,000 all-purpose yards for Forestville, which lost to Potomac in the 2A South first-round.
Dale Williams, Northwestern, senior, defensive back — Williams’ veteran presence was a big reason Northwestern advanced to the state 4A playoff for the first time since 1998. He led the team with 108 tackles, and contributed four receiving touchdowns on offense. Williams had arguably his best game against then-defending state 4A champ Parkdale with an interception and caught a 50-yard touchdown pass in a 30-6 romp.
Randall Steiner, McNamara, senior, defensive back — A first-team All-WCAC selection, Steiner, along with senior running back Ulysee Davis, carried the Mustangs this fall. He had 30 tackles and three interceptions, and was a dynamo on offense. Steiner produced 1,200 yards between passing, rushing and receiving, and had 163 return yards.
Matt Campbell, DeMatha, sophomore, punter — Campbell’s legs were definitely busy this fall for the Stags, who claimed their third WCAC title in four seasons. The only sophomore on the Star⁄Gazette first team, Campbell averaged 38.9 yards on 24 attempts for the Hyattsville school. As a kicker, he was 35-of-38 on extra points and had five field goals (seven attempts).
Chuck Abegesah, High Point, linebacker; Eddie Adams, Bowie, linebacker; Roosevelt Bailey, Northwestern, line; Demetrius Boone, Flowers, line; Mike Coleman, DuVal, linebacker; Sean Crowes, Potomac, linebacker; William Daniels, Gwynn Park, linebacker; Anthony DelBorrell, DeMatha, linebacker; Jarrell Dockett, Friendly, linebacker; Jared Gaither, Roosevelt, line; Richan Gaskins, Roosevelt, linebacker; Robert Guest, Friendly, linebacker; Jahari Gunthorpe, Gwynn Park, safety; Gerald Jackson, DeMatha, defensive back; David Leonard, Riverdale Baptist, linebacker; Rodney Pittman, Friendly, line; Matt Rogers, DeMatha, line; Cordell Spinner, Central, linebacker; Raymond Thompson, Parkdale, defensive back; Jerel Walker, Parkdale, line; Derrick Williams, Gwynn Park, line; Donte Woodyard, Forestville, linebacker.
Ronnie Carter, Fairmont Heights, all-purpose; Blake Castillo, DuVal, punter; Deonte Conyers, Friendly, all-purpose; Rashard Henry, Flowers, all-purpose; Aaron James, DuVal, returner; Justin Kersey, McNamara, punter.