For those the DMV area, the football program at DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland, is automatically associated with greatness.
But despite a track record of DeMatha placing athletes in top-tier Division I programs consistently for decades, heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Head coach Elijah Brooks took over after legendary coach Bill McGregor in 2011 and has not missed a beat in keeping DeMatha ahead of the pack as the premier program in the state, leading them to a No. 1 overall ranking and holding the No. 13 rank in the United States, according to Maxpreps.com.
But Brooks acknowledged the pressures of leading a program that he was once a part of and maintaining their excellence for years to come.
“You feel pressure as a coach and as a player, but that’s why you come to DeMatha,” he said. “It’s what you sign up for, to compete at the highest level and achieve at the highest level.”
DeMatha is no slouch in the classroom, either, holding high standards academically that their players must achieve.
“DeMatha is very competitive in the classroom, the kids have to maintain great decisions because of the spotlight we’re in at DeMatha,” Brooks said. “They must learn responsibility, in turn, being a part of something bigger than themselves forcing them to grow up early.”
Aside from their on-the-field dominance in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC), DeMatha has also contributed to the Hyattsville community through seminars of domestic violence and their SAVE Initiative. The Sports Anti-Violence Environment (SAVE) bridges the gap between youth and police by bringing in the chief of police in Prince Georges County, a fellow DeMatha alumni, to discuss police involvement and the proper way to handle various situations with officers.
A domestic violence summit is being planned for October. Additionally, students need 200 hours of community service to graduate, Brooks said.