After the conclusion of yesterday's game against visiting Gilman, several McDonogh players began removing their jerseys reveal black T-shirts that read:
"The McDonogh-Gilman Show: 3 in a row."
It may have been a bit presumptuous, but it proved to be prophetic.
Led by quarterback Bobby Sabelhaus, the third-ranked Eagles (9-0, 5-0) defeated No. 5 Gilman (7-2, 4-1), 20-10, to win the Maryland Scholastic Association Armstrong A Conference championship. It was McDonogh's third straight victory over its rival in the teams' 79th meeting.
L What would have happened to the shirts if McDonogh had lost?
"We didn't want to think about that," McDonogh running back/linebacker Mike Working Jr. said. "We probably would have burned them."
That wasn't necessary, thanks in part to Sabelhaus, a 6-foot-6 junior who completed 10 of 16 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. He also was the Eagles' leading rusher with 47 yards on 13 carries.
Yesterday's victory capped the Eagles' unbeaten season and completed their turnaround under coach Mike Working Sr. After going 2-8 in his first year, McDonogh has gone 16-3 the past two seasons.
The final score was not indicative of how close the game was. McDonogh led just 13-10 when it seized an opportunity to seal the win in the final 1:30.
On fourth-and-11 at Gilman's 32-yard line, the Eagles set up to punt. But Working Sr. noticed that no one was covering split end Donta Evans and he alerted Sabelhaus, who is also the punter.
Sabelhaus handled a low snap and threw to a wide-open Evans, who raced down to the 1. Two plays later, Jeff Miyamoto scored on a 3-yard run.
The turning point in the game occurred earlier in the fourth quarter when McDonogh running back/defensive back Dwayne Stukes fumbled and then atoned for his miscue on the next play.
After his turnover stalled a McDonogh drive at the Gilman 30-yard line, Stukes scooped up a fumble by Gilman running back Jim Zimmerman and returned it to the 26.
Two plays later, Sabelhaus threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jason Taylor. Sabelhaus' PAT gave the Eagles a 13-3 lead with 10:59 remaining.