When Jerome Johnson was asked how he felt after leading the Eastern Ramblers to a decisive win over Bell in the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) Gravy Bowl, the overwhelming emotions didn’t leave him with many words.
“I’m just excited,” Johnson said, repeatedly. “Very excited.”
The sophomore quarterback threw 9-of-22 for 247 yards, four touchdowns and a 10-yard rushing touchdown and received Most Valuable Player honors in Eastern’s 33-13 win over Bell on Nov. 22 in Washington, D.C.
Eastern’s high-powered passing game, led by a strong corps of receivers, proved to be too much for Bell’s pressure-based defense. Johnson’s four touchdowns were to three different receivers, including a 70-yarder to junior James Curtis and a 34-yarder to senior Henry Edwards.
“Everybody feels hungry. Everybody wants to be a part of it. We all feel like we can give a little bit more,” said senior receiver Dajuan Greene.
Greene caught two touchdowns, including a 69-yard reception on the first offensive snap of the game. Greene—a jack of all trades on the football field—finished with four receptions for 100 yards, five tackles and one fumble recovery.
Although Eastern’s offense came up big in the championship, its defensive strategy was the key to sealing the victory. More specifically, Eastern was able to rein in Bell junior running back Charles Brooks.
“The strategy was just to contain Charles, and not let him get to the outside, and that’s what we did,” said junior John Johnson, who had five tackles and an incredible one-handed interception.
As Bell’s prime offensive weapon, Brooks has been nearly unstoppable this season. He rushed for 26 touchdowns and more than 2,100 yards in 12 games, breaking the DCIAA single-season record. In Saturday’s Gravy Bowl, Brooks was held to 30 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown.
“Charles Brooks is the best running back I’ve seen. He gets the ball, he runs hard, so our game plan was to stop him. We thought, if we can get them to pass the ball, it’s over,” said Eastern senior Ramani Smith, who finished with nine tackles, a sack and fumble recovery.
After starting the season 0-4, the Eastern Ramblers are on a seven-game win streak. They advance to play Sidwell Friends in the D.C. State Athletic Association’s Class A Championship on Nov. 29 at Catholic University.
“It feels great,” said coach Jason Strickland, looking on as his players took pictures with the championship trophy and their individual medals. “The kids [have] been waiting on this for a long time.”