No. 22 St. John's may be poised to end losing streak to No. 4 DeMatha

No. 22 St. John's may be poised to end losing streak to No. 4 DeMatha

Super 25

No. 22 St. John's may be poised to end losing streak to No. 4 DeMatha

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St. Joseph’s Louis Acceus getting wrapped up by St. John’s defenders Saturday as the Green Knights, ranked No. 1 in the preseason for North Jersey non-public teams, fell. (Photo: Carmine Galasso/For USA Today Sports).

St. John’s defensive lines and offensive lines have been impressive. The No. 22 Cadets take on No. 4 DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) on Friday. (Photo: Carmine Galasso/For USA Today Sports).

Darryl Hodge can’t recall every detail of the last time St. John’s College (Washington, D.C.) defeated DeMatha (Hyattsville, Md.) in varsity football because it was a long time ago, 1994 to be precise.

None of the current Cadets were born when tailback Brian Gavagan scooped up a fumble by quarterback Brian Calabrese and ran untouched 33 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in a 21-17 St. John’s win. Hodge is an assistant football coach at the Landon School (Bethesda, Md.) and a middle school coach, but at the time, he was an offensive lineman for St. John’s.

“It was my sophomore year, that was 1993 or 1994,” Hodge said. “DeMatha has had a great program across the board since I was a kid. When I was in high school, they got a day off for every championship they won and they twice had seven days off. They’ve had a high standard for excellence in athletics as well as academics. St. John’s has been on the rise for a number of years and (athletics director) Brian Griffin is doing a fantastic job of recruiting the the top coaches around to put us in the same air as DeMatha.”

The Cadets, who are 4-1 and ranked No. 22 in the Super 25, get a chance Friday to test how far they’ve come against No. 4 DeMatha, which is 5-0. The Cadets have two seniors in the 247Sports.com’s Top 250 players and all but one of their games this season have been against teams either Super 25 or regionally ranked.

MORE: See the full Super 25 rankings

St. John’s coach Joe Casamento said he doesn’t talk of the losing streak to DeMatha because it belongs in the past.

“We don’t talk about that stuff,” Casamento said. “Those were other kids and other teams. We’re here, we’re now and we’re trying to be as good as we can be. … We just try to take ourselves as far as we can go. I couldn’t tell you the names of four players on DeMatha and it’s not because they’re not a good team. This game is our most important game because it’s our next game.”

Both teams have dominated the line of scrimmage and use the run to set up the pass.

“I would say we’re so close, it’s frightening in the way we approach things,” Casamento said. “I was looking at some of our game plan. It just struck me that I could be working in their office as well. We’re new, so maybe we’re a little more excited and a little less experienced. They’re DeMatha, so they’re a little more experienced and maybe less excited. If you want to be great, you have to go beat the great teams.”

DeMatha coach Elijah Brooks said the game will be won in the trenches. Both teams use the run to set up the pass. St. John’s Joachim Bangda and Keilan Robinson have both rushed for more than 100 yards in a game and DeMatha’s Khory Spruill and freshman Marshawn Lloyd have both run over the century mark. DeMatha quarterback Beau English, an Air Force commit, has been particularly accurate, with two games where he didn’t have an incomplete pass. St. John’s quarterback Kasim Hill, a Maryland commit, has been as effective running the ball as passing.

“No. 1, both teams have done well because they’ve won on the line of scrimmage all season,” Brooks said. “This game is a true test as to which team can win up front. They have two or three five-star kids, much like we do. Both teams want to be balanced and both teams have outstanding quarterbacks and playmakers.”

As for Hodge, he said St. John’s schedule has prepared them for this moment.

“Coach Caz wanted to be the best and in order to do that, you have to play the best,” Hodge said. “Cudos to him for doing that and for going on the road, because they only have three home games. It’s tough to go away for that many games, yet alone that level of competition. I would say we have a very good chance of beating DeMatha this year. It’s not going to be a cakewalk just because we have played good opponents because obviously they are nationally ranked and they are the No. 1 team in the area. Until we beat them, they are the kings.”

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