By Brandy L. Simms
WASHINGTON, D.C. — For the first two quarters, Friday night’s nationally-televised varsity football contest between Washington Catholic Athletic Conference rivals, the Good Counsel Falcons and the St. John’s Cadets, lived up to the hype.
However, St. John’s pulled away in the second half en route to a 31-10 victory over the Falcons at Cardinal Stadium on the Catholic University campus.
St. John’s remained unbeaten at 7-0 and Good Counsel fell to 5-2 heading into this weekend’s matchup with conference rival DeMatha.
Both teams scored touchdowns in the first quarter and added field goals in the second quarter before the Cadets outscored Good Counsel 21-0 after intermission.
“We made a couple mistakes and they capitalized and we knew that going in,” said Good Counsel head coach Andy Stefanelli. “You can’t make mistakes against a team like that because it’ll turn into six points real quick.”
Good Counsel running back Latrele Palmer scored on a two-yard run in the first quarter before St. John’s responded with a 46-yard touchdown catch by Cam Ross that tied the game at 7-7 with 4:20 left in the quarter.
St. John’s quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava tossed three touchdown passes in the second half, including two that were caught by speedy wide receiver Rakim Jarrett.
The talented junior wide receiver finished with five receptions for 93 yards to help St. John’s knock off Good Counsel.
St. John’s head coach Joe Casamento had some high praise for Jarrett, calling him one of the best receivers he’s ever coached.
“I had Marquise Walker who broke all the records at Michigan,” said Casamento, “and he’s better than Marquise.”
St. John’s led by a touchdown late in the third quarter when Maiava connected with Jarrett who hauled in the pass and sprinted into the end zone to put the Cadets up 24-10 with 1:51 remaining. Jarrett later scored on a catch and run to extend the St. John’s lead and put the game out of reach.
Meanwhile, the St. John’s defense held Good Counsel scoreless in the second half. The Falcons entered the contest averaging nearly 50 points per game.
“Our defense is a lot better than people know,” said Casamento. “Good Counsel is a very good team. We played well the second half.”
The St. John’s defense held talented Good Counsel running back Sy’Veon Wilkerson to just 83 yards rushing on 12 carries after the junior registered 262 yards on 23 carries in a victory over Gonzaga the previous week.
The stingy St. John’s defense took some pressure off the Cadets offense according to Maiava.
“Our defense always got our back no matter what,” said the St. John’s quarterback.
Maiava, a native of Hawaii, migrated to the D.C. area over the summer after playing high school football in his home state during the past two seasons. The game against Good Counsel was broadcast to a national television audience on ESPN2.
“I was trying to show off for the 808 fam back home,” said Maiava, who has drawn interest from various major college football programs.
Maiava said he looks up to Hawaiian quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa for inspiration. Mariota is a former Heisman Trophy winner who plays for the Tennessee Titans and Tagovailoa, a cousin, led Alabama to the national championship last season and is among this year’s Heisman Trophy candidates.
“It was a big win,” said Maiava, “ESPN under the lights – I’m excited.”