For H.D. Woodson cornerback Charles Peeler, the formula to beating Wilson in the 2015 Turkey Bowl was simple.

WoodsonWarriorsHelmet2

“We just put our best people on their best people,” said Peeler, a junior.

The plan worked, and Woodson defeated Wilson, 40-24, to win their third-straight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association (DCIAA) Stars Division championship.

The defending DCIAA champion Woodson Warriors had a rocky start to the 2015 season—including a 28-18 loss to Wilson on Oct. 16—before hitting their stride down the stretch.

The Wilson Tigers, on the other hand, sought to extend their 11-game winning streak and take home the school’s first city title in football since 1991.

Led by junior all-league quarterback Steven Williams Jr., Wilson was a favorite to win the championship. H.D. Woodson found itself in an unfamiliar role: the underdog.

After studying film and mirroring game situations in practice, Peeler and Maryland commit Parnell Motley—both all-league cornerbacks—were prepared to stop Wilson’s big play offense.

“We just knew what type of mindset they had to come in and pass, so we wanted to penetrate and try to make them run the ball,” said Motley. He dedicated the win to his brother, Dexter, who died last year.

Woodson’s defense gave Wilson a tough time from the beginning. Williams’ first two snaps of the game for Wilson resulted in an interception and a lost fumble. At the end of the second quarter, Williams left the game with an ankle injury and did not return. Backup quarterback Kelvin Bazemore stepped in, but, like Williams, he was unable to find a rhythm against Woodson’s no-nonsense secondary.

While Wilson’s offense struggled, H.D. Woodson sophomore quarterback Khalil Wright shined on the Turkey Bowl stage, as he threw five touchdowns in the first half.

According to Wright, the key was “giving the ball to our playmakers. All of our wide receivers scored today, so that means something.”

Just a year ago, Wright was a freshman who backed up Woodson star quarterback Rashad Cooper. However, after this year’s Turkey Bowl, it’s safe to say Wright has come into his own.

“He’s a very mature young man. Coming from last year as a ninth grader, he stepped up a lot,” said Woodson Coach Greg Fuller. “I’m very grateful that he did.”

H.D. Woodson will move on to face either Gonzaga or Friendship Collegiate in the D.C. State Athletic Association Class AA final on Dec. 5 at Howard University.