Maryland legends meet on the field

Bob Milloy has more wins and public school state titles than any coach in Maryland history. Bill McGregor has more victories than any private school coach in Maryland history.

On Thursday, these coaches lead their highly decorated teams -- Milloy's undefeated and regionally ranked Good Counsel and McGregor's perennial power DeMatha -- into a nationally televised clash at Good Counsel (ESPN2, 6:30 p.m. ET).

McGregor and Milloy are hallmarks of the Maryland high school coaching fraternity and between them have amassed 577 career wins and 66 years of head coaching experience.

There is nothing these two men have not seen on a football field, and for the past eight seasons, they have battled it out for supremacy in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC).

DeMatha is the power in the WCAC -- it has been for McGregor's 27 years at the school -- and Good Counsel is the latest in a line of contenders for the Stags' crown.

"Good Counsel, right now, is the next team up on the block trying to knock us off," McGregor said. "For the longest time it was [Archbishop] Carroll [in Washington, D.C.], then it was Gonzaga [D.C.] for a while, St. John's [D.C.] was up there and now it's Good Counsel. We're used to taking on the challenge."

Good Counsel's run began in earnest when Milloy came to the school in 2001 after spending 31 years at the public school level. At the time, Good Counsel was a middle-of-the-pack WCAC team that had failed to win more than six games in any of the three previous seasons before Milloy arrived.

In Milloy's third year, 2003, Good Counsel finished 8-2 and made it to the WCAC semifinals, in which it lost to Gonzaga. Since that loss the Falcons have made it to the WCAC championship game every year -- losing to DeMatha each time.

"There's nothing like DeMatha in that public school league," Milloy said. "They're big, talented and very well-coached. They may have graduated 20-30 guys, but it doesn't matter because that just gives 20 guys who have been playing there for three years, hungry, [a chance] to step on the field. They're like a great white shark. If the shark bites you and breaks off eight teeth there's just another row that grows right in."

This regular-season meeting is more about winning a conference game and pride rather than dominating a rivalry since these programs have made a habit playing a second time each year for the WCAC title. Good Counsel has beaten DeMatha in the regular season twice since 2001, but not once in the championship game.

That could change this season.

Good Counsel boasts one of the most impressive lineups in the state this season. Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is rated as the No. 9 athlete in the nation in the ESPNU 150. Running back Caleb Porzel is committed to Maryland, and defensive back Mike Wallace and linebacker Durrell Miller are also receiving heavy Division I interest.

In addition to the seniors, Good Counsel boasts an impressive junior class with prospects E.J. Scott, Troy Gloster and Louis Young.

But do not count out the Stags. As McGregor says, "DeMatha does not rebuild; we reload."

Even with the graduation of 32 seniors, including Maryland State Defensive Player of the Year Kenny Tate, DeMatha returns several key players.

"When you graduate that many seniors, it's the new guys that are playing that take a little while to feel confident," McGregor said. "We've played four games and each game we see progress. We're playing harder, more together. We're right on track, [we're] where we want to be right now."

Quarterback Tom Chroniger is one of Maryland's top quarterbacks and running back Marcus Coker returns to the lineup after a two-week absence.

McGregor added that the Stags will be playing with their top two defensive tackles healthy for the first time this season, and receiver Michael Milburn is becoming a threat.

With DeMatha losing so much from last year's team, the feeling is that this could be Good Counsel's year to unseat the Stags.

Good Counsel came close last year, defeating DeMatha 28-24 in the regular season, but losing in the championship game 12-7.

"They beat us last year. That was one game I walked away from and said they were the better team and they deserved to win," Milloy said. "The other three [WCAC title games] we had our chances and we didn't get it done."

For Good Counsel to be considered the state's premier program it will have to beat DeMatha when it matters most -- in the WCAC final. And Milloy is no stranger to championships, having won eight Maryland public school titles during his days at Springbrook and Sherwood high schools.

"I think it would be the hardest [championship] ever," Milloy said of winning a WCAC title. "We've been there four times. When I was in the public schools we won eight, but we did get there and lose three. We got there 11 times, but here we've been [to the WCAC championship] four times and lost all four. Getting past DeMatha is the most difficult thing out of all my coaching [career]."

For DeMatha, it has history on its side and a head coach who has 16 conference championships in 27 years.

"We're going to come out and play as well and as tough as we can. We are DeMatha," McGregor said. "We are the five-time defending champion and we know how to win big games and we know how to win close games."

Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com.