WASHINGTON POST: In the midst of deafening chants of “Beach Boyz” and gallons of chocolate milk and sparkling grape juice being sprayed on the team as photographers jostled for the perfect picture, Friendship Collegiate Coach Mike Hunter calmly cradled the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA trophy his team had just earned with a 19-14 win over Theodore Roosevelt.
After an uncharacteristic 3-7 record in 2021 and an inconsistent start this season, Hunter heard plenty of chatter about how the Knights had fallen off and that the road to a D.C. state championship no longer went through the Northeast program.
But Hunter and the Beach Boyz, as they’re affectionately known because of how sandy their old practice field was, kept their heads down and let the work speak for them.
The result came Saturday at Howard University’s Greene Stadium as Friendship clinched a fifth DCSAA title.
“Before the game I told the guys, ‘We did the other schools a favor and let them hold our trophy for a year, but now it’s time to bring it back home to Minnesota Avenue where it belongs,’ ” Hunter said. “Today, our guys did that.”
With only two of its nine wins decided by more than two scores, Friendship Collegiate (9-4) entered the DCSAA final prepared for a fight.
And Theodore Roosevelt (11-2) gave it just that.
Turkey Bowl MVP Khalil Wilkins opened the game by completing nine of his first 11 passes as the RoughRiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a toss from Wilkins to Riley Jackson.
Friendship Collegiate quarterback Jaylen Croskey responded with two touchdown passes to Keyon Webb-Starkey — one late in the second quarter and another midway through the third — to give his team its first lead at 13-7.
“Everybody thinks they are some dogs and built for war,” Croskey said. “But games like this are where you really prove that you got it in you.”
Roosevelt retook the lead to open the fourth on a 16-year run by Watkins, who spun his way into the end zone and finished with 58 yards on the ground and 186 through the air.
But with 6:31 remaining, FCA’s go-to guys came through again. Croskey found Webb-Starkey from four yards out for the game-winning score, their third touchdown connection of the evening.
“I think that to go from where we were last year to winning a [championship] right now just shows how great of a coach Coach Hunter is,” Croskey said. “When things were tough and we were really doubting ourselves, Coach just kept telling us to keep working and that if we stayed together, we’d be fine. Now we’re champs, so, yeah, let everybody know that the Beach Boyz are back.”
Photo: Friendship Collegiate beats Theodore Roosevelt for the DCSAA Class AA championship Saturday at Howard University. ( Cory Royster/Cory Royster/WASHINGTON POST)