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  • The Chesapeake defense was fired up throughout a resounding win over Northeast on November 3. The Cougars shut out the Eagles, who hadn't been held under 15 points all season.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    The Chesapeake defense was fired up throughout a resounding win over Northeast on November 3. The Cougars shut out the Eagles, who hadn't been held under 15 points all season.
  • Chesapeake running back Tony Watkins (10) and fellow Cougar ball carriers Khalil Gary and Colby McNulty combined for 225 rushing yards agains the Eagles.
    Photo by Colin Murphy
    Chesapeake running back Tony Watkins (10) and fellow Cougar ball carriers Khalil Gary and Colby McNulty combined for 225 rushing yards agains the Eagles.

Chesapeake Defeats Northeast In Dena Bowl XLI, 17-0

Colin Murphy
View Bio
November 7, 2017

The Chesapeake football team is back. Back at 7-3 overall after a 2-8 season a year ago. Back in the playoffs for the second time in three years.

The Cougars are back on top of Pasadena, too.

Chesapeake took firm control of the much-hyped Dena Bowl at rival Northeast on November 3, deploying its running attack effectively, taking advantage of passing opportunities and turning in a suffocating defensive performance to win in a shutout, 17-0.

Already secured a playoff spot, Chesapeake had a chance to improve its seeding with a win. Chesapeake’s three-headed running back corps of Tony Watkins, Colby McNulty and Khalil Gary compiled 225 total ground yards, with Watkins rushing for 100 yards on 18 carries, McNulty 81 yards on nine carries with a touchdown and Gary 44 yards on seven carries with a touchdown. Dylan Young completed nine passes for 113 yards to help keep the chains moving and let Chesapeake win the field-position and time-of-possession battles.

Northeast, which needed a win to keep its playoff hopes alive, had its normally robust offense contained by a thorough defensive effort by the Cougars.

“Our offensive line blocked, our backs ran hard, our backs blocked, and our passing game was on point,” said Chesapeake head coach Rob Elliott. “The defensive coaches put a great scheme together, and the bottom line is, we tackled.”

The Cougars are now 23-18 all-time in the rivalry and avenged last year’s win by Northeast, which was the Eagles’ first in the rivalry since 2010.

The Eagles finished the year 4-6.

PHOTO GALLERY: 11.3.17, Dena Bowl XLI

Chesapeake took the lead in the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown run by Gary, and Colton Spangler’s point-after made it 7-0.

The Cougar defense limited Northeast’s explosive backfield of Demontay Snowden (90 yards on 13 carries) and Davon Carroll (44 yards on three carries), and they held the Eagles to 211 total yards of offense.

“We focused on any time they were in motion, pulling the safety down to help and trying to not let them get outside,” said senior linebacker Matt Kern, who had eight tackles. “That was our main goal. Keep everything inside and get them to our inside linebackers, us and the defensive backs, just keep everything contained.”

With the defense playing well, the Chesapeake offense produced clock-eating possessions, keeping Northeast’s offense off the field and tiring out the Eagles’ two-way players, including Snowden and Carroll. Even when the Northeast defense forced Chesapeake into third-and-long situations, Young was able to find his receivers. Eight of Young’s nine completions were for first downs, and he connected with Russell Tongue four times for first-down gains and 56 total yards.

McNulty made amends for a fumble on the Cougars’ opening possession with a 20-yard run for a touchdown in the third quarter to make it 14-0 after Spangler’s kick.

“I knew I had to make up for [the fumble],” said McNulty. “It was all about the team. Every running back gave 100 percent effort. Tony keeps those feet driving. Khalil had some great runs. We played great as a team.”

Watkins praised the offensive line of Will Sullivan, Andrew Long, Dan Casalino, Cameron Wilford and Jake Mearman.

“I tell my O-line all the time how much I love them,” said Watkins with a wide smile. “Today they were excellent blocking. They opened up the holes, and that’s what made the run game able to execute.”

The Chesapeake defense came up big on Northeast’s most productive drive of the night early in the third quarter. The Eagles had made it all the way down to the Chesapeake 1-yard line before a penalty forced them back five yards, and Cody Carpenter came up with a big tackle of Snowden on fourth down to get the ball back for the Cougars.

Spangler added a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to make it 17-0.

Northeast coach Brian Baublitz gave credit where credit was due.

“The difference in the game was Chesapeake’s physicality. You can’t get that on tape, you can’t really see their physicality. They are just a bruising football team,” Baublitz said. “I thought we held up fairly well with the run game, but we would get them in third-and-6, and their passing game was getting them by. They’re a well-rounded team, very well coached, and they were just a better team tonight. Hats off to Coach Elliott and the whole team, they did an outstanding job.”

For the Cougars, carrying the momentum of a Dena Bowl win and a 7-3 record into the school’s second playoff appearance in three years is a proud accomplishment, particularly after finishing 2-8 last year.

“I’m really proud of our senior group,” said Elliott. “Two years ago, we go to the playoffs for the first time in school history, and everybody’s ecstatic. The next year, we just weren’t a good football team. The seniors, myself and my coaches, we took a beating last year. ‘One-hit wonder,’ every negative thing that could come out, ‘Same old Chesapeake,’ so for the seniors to take those lumps last year and come out and really learn from the negative experience, and their effort, that’s really what I’m most proud of.”

Long, who along with Kern is one of the two three-year varsity players on this year’s team, said the team has bonded over its work ethic and joint pursuit of improvement.

“It’s just a blessing. Coming back from how we did last year as a team, Northeast beating us at home, we just came together and came out on top,” said Long. “I couldn’t have done it without my family. We’re family, and we’ve put up so much work. I’m super proud of my team.”


- Chesapeake is the No. 2 seed in the 3A East and will host No. 3 Long Reach on November 10 in the 3A East semifinals.

- There were many defensive contributors for the Cougars. Kern (eight tackles), Carpenter (three tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack, one forced fumble), Tongue (five tackles) Dante Thompson (six tackles), Michael Gimon (three tackles), Andrew Colangelo (two tackles, one fumble recovery), Devin Forrester (four tackles, one sack) and Andrew Richardson (two tackles, one sack) all played well in the win. Said Thompson, “It was just going into practice, watching film, we knew they had a lot of speed and we had to contain the outside, and we knew their plays. We knew they were a good team, but we’re a good team as well.”

- The game was delayed by about 30 minutes in the fourth quarter due to an injury to Chesapeake’s Gimon. Gimon injured his leg and was taken away in an ambulance but had successful surgery over the weekend and is expected to make a full recovery. 

- Spangler’s 44-yard field goal was impressive, but it wasn’t his longest of the season. Spangler set a school record with a 47-yard field goal in the Cougars’ October 20 loss to Arundel, breaking a 33-year-old school record previously held by current Chesapeake baseball coach Ken King. King’s 38-yard field goal in the 1984 season came under then-Chesapeake head coach Chuck Markiewicz; Markiewicz is now the coach at Arundel, against whom Spangler’s field goal came. Spangler also plays for coach King as a member of the Chesapeake baseball team.

- Baublitz was nonetheless proud of the year for the Eagles, who finished 4-6 with wins over Laurel, North County, Southern and Severna Park.

“We took another step forward, and that’s huge,” he said. “Last year’s team was basically the foundation. They bought into what we’re doing. They won three games, which for our staff isn’t acceptable, but that was a big challenge for them, and they won the Dena Bowl. So they laid a huge foundation for our program. This senior class, they didn’t make a major leap, but they took it to another level. They won four games instead of three. … I just had a talk with all the juniors: ‘What’s your legacy going to be? It’s time for you to take it to the next level.’ We have a month and a half off, then come January 1, we’ll go at it and see what 2018 holds.”

PHOTO GALLERY: 11.3.17, Dena Bowl XLI


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