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  • Writer's pictureSheldon Shealer

Good Counsel finishes No. 1 in Maryland Media state rankings

Good Counsel has returned to the throne for Maryland high school football.

The Falcons, led by a stellar recruiting class of Power 5-bound performers and backed with its first WCAC Metro title since 2019, collected all 12 first-place votes to finish No. 1 in the Maryland Media State Poll for the first time since 2012.

Good Counsel's lone loss was in the season opener of a nationally televised game to St. Xavier (Ohio). Good Counsel then rolled off 10 straight wins, including a pair of dramatic finishes against league rival and state No. 2 DeMatha. The Falcons also had two wins over state-ranked Bishop McNamara and Mount St. Joseph. In addition, Good Counsel defeated perennial D.C. powers Gonzaga (twice) and St. John's. The Falcons also posted a running-clock win over Stone Bridge (Va.), which plays for the Virginia Class 5 title this weekend.

While Good Counsel picked up every No. 1 vote, DeMatha had nearly every No. 2 vote to secure its highest final ranking since 2016. Archbishop Spalding, the MIAA A champion, finished No. 3, followed by 4A state champion Wise and St. Frances Academy.

Class 3A state champion Oakdale ended at No. 6, followed by MIAA B champ Concordia Prep, Class 1A champion Fort Hill, IAC tri-champion Georgetown Prep, and MIAA A runner-up McDonogh School to round out the Top 10.

Fort Hill's No. 8 finish is the highest by a Class 1A program since the 2016 Fort Hill squad, which also ended at No. 8.

Class 4A-3A state champion Mergenthaler Vo Tech and Class 2A state champion Stephen Decatur were the lone newcomers to the final state Top 25. Both programs had been in the "others receiving votes" for most of the season until strong postseason performances moved the teams into the Top 25. For Mergenthaler Vo-Tech, which ended at No. 13, it's a return to the perch it held following a state title in 2021. The No. 20 finish for Stephen Decatur marked a first-ever state ranking for this Bayside power.

One noticeable absence in the final ranking is Flowers. The Prince George's County team spent the entire year in the Top 10 until the final poll. Flowers was first forced to forfeit a playoff game and then forfeited its entire season, rendering it eligible to be considered for the rankings.

St. Frances Academy started the season at No. 1 on the heels of five straight No. 1 final rankings in Maryland. No other team had held No. 1 in Maryland since DeMatha and St. Frances shared that spot early in the 2017 season -- a run of 58 straight weeks. St. Frances' early losses to national Top 10 teams allowed Good Counsel to move to No. 1 in the first poll of the regular season, and the Falcons retained that spot the rest of the season.

This year marked the first time Good Counsel has held a state No. 1 ranking since former coaching legend Bob Milloy stepped down from the program. Good Counsel spent 35 ranking weeks at No. 1 between 2004 and 2013 and finished as the state's No. 1 team in back-to-back years. Now, the Maryland Media No. 1 trophy will go to Falcons coach Andy Stefanelli and his loaded lineup.

Good Counsel's team was led on offense by Wisconsin-bound running back Dilin Jones, the WCAC Offensive Player of the Year, and Florida State commit Elijah Jones, a receiver. Quarterback Frankie Weaver has committed to Monmouth and offensive lineman Kyle Altuner is bound for West Virginia. Florida commit Aaron Chiles, a linebacker, and Clemson commit Darien Mayo, on the line, highlight a defense that also features Judah Jenkins and Faheem Delane in the secondary. Jenkins holds several Power 5 offers and Delane is one of the top Class of 2025 prospects in the country.

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