WASHINGTON - No, D.C. is not a state, but it now has a high school football state champion.
The Friendship Collegiate Public Charter School Knights (8-3) beat the Dunbar High Crimson Tide (10-3) 48-12 in the inaugural D.C. State Athletic Association (DCSAA) championship game on Saturday at Howard University's Greene Stadium.
Friendship Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said "the party's just getting started" while thanking fans, teachers and players in a post-game speech.
This is Abdul-Rahim's first championship in his nine-year coaching career at the school.
"It's been a long journey," he says. "So, selfishly it's a great feeling."
Friendship Academy stormed out to a 14-0 first quarter lead on the strength of a safety and two touchdown runs before Dunbar got on the board with an 88-yard kickoff return by Patrick Witherspoon, putting the score at 14-6.
Friendship Academy scored again and took a 22-6 halftime lead, and the team rolled from there. The Knights outscored the Crimson Tide 26-6 in the second half.
"It was a good game. Congrats to them," says Dunbar lineman Terrance Duffy, who injured his right leg in the first half.
Duffy's mother agreed that it was a good game and said she's still proud of her son and the team for a successful season.
The public school versus charter school championship game was made possible when the DCSAA was formed in May of 2011 under the Office of the Superintendent of Education.
Clark Ray was appointed the new agency's athletic director by D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, and was tasked with creating the game.
Until now, a city champion was determined in the D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) title game, known as the Turkey Bowl. Dunbar won it this year beating Anacostia High 12-8. However, only public schools were allowed to compete.
Ray has tweaked things a bit by setting up a four-team playoff system. The new state title game pits the winner of the DCIAA game against the winner of a matchup of two teams within the Washington Charter School Athletic Association, the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and the Interstate Athletic Conferences.
"Now that we have 42, 43 percent of our kids in public charter schools, and they have athletic programs, there was an opportunity to bridge that, unify it, bring them all under one roof, and that's what we did," says Ray.
Donna Parker, mom of Friendship Academy quarterback Deandre Parker, says the win is for all the alumni who never got to play in a championship game.
"I'm just glad Friendship can shut the city up," Parker says.
There was a scary moment in the second quarter on the Dunbar sideline. Defensive end Maurice Glasow's jersey and shoulder pads were taken off his body, his neck was placed in a brace and he was rolled onto a stretcher. Officials say he suffered a head injury while making a tackle. He was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, but is said to be okay.
Abdul-Rahim says while he wants his players to enjoy their championship, he hopes the adversity the team went through will allow them to succeed beyond the football field.
"I think if we preach and do the right things on and off the field good things will happen," he says. "This is a good thing."
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