George Washington football primed for Class 3A playoffs behind first pair of Division I commits since 1989 (2023)

George Washington’s already re-written program history this season. And if the team’s “Mr. Takeovers” have anything to say about it, there’s still some major revision yet to be done.

The Patriots’ nine wins are the school’s most since 1992, while Silas Evans and Marcellus Honeycutt Jr. — aka “Mr. Takeovers” — are George Washington’s first pair of Division I football commits since 1989.

All of which gives the Patriots confidence entering the Class 3A playoffs as George Washington searches for its first playoff win in decades. Records are sketchy, but if the Patriots upset Holy Family on Saturday, it could be the program’s first postseason victory since 1973.

“Both Silas and Marcellus are game-changers, not just on the field but in the classroom and also with our program in the building,” George Washington head coach Dwight Swift said. “There have been games where Silas had three or four touchdowns in a half, and this last week, Marcellus took over the game in a crazy-weather (snow) game.

“There’s nothing Mr. Takeovers can’t do. The team rallies behind them and they keep giving us plenty of big plays, plenty of motivation.”

Evans, a Colorado State commit, is averaging 17.9 yards per catch and has five receiving touchdowns. Honeycutt, an Eastern Washington pledge, has 1,723 all-purpose yards and 22 total touchdowns. They are the Patriots’ primary firepower, along with sophomore running back Marquevios Lee (111.6 rushing yards per game).

In the 3A League 6 championship game on Nov. 3 against Fredrick, Honeycutt went off for 301 yards and five touchdowns. That capped a 9-1 regular season to earn the Patriots their fifth league title and the No. 10 seed in the 3A playoffs.

The playoff appearance underscores a quick turnaround in Swift’s fourth year. His first year, the 2002 George Washington graduate played a lot of freshmen that he had bonded with the year prior, while working as a dean at Hill Middle School (a GW feeder) and coaching the Futures football team there. The Patriots went 1-9 in 2019, but planted the seeds for change.

“We had a really good team that year, we just couldn’t find ways to win,” Evans said. “It was confusing times for us, and we were all growing as players. But where we’re at now is the exact position we wanted to be and what we envisioned when we were freshmen.”

In addition to Evans and Honeycutt, linemen Jarai Vaughn and Jude Marino were among the Patriots who walked through fire as freshmen and are now reaping the rewards of that adversity as seniors. With the guidance of Swift, the culture instilled by those players into the program has turned heads at other city schools.

“(Swift) took over a reclamation project,” Denver South head coach Ryan Marini said. “A school that struggled with its enrollment, and had several principles in and out. So it’s been awesome to see him take some DPS kids, and get them to trust him. Kids that were being recruited to leave DPS stuck with him and now a couple of them are going to play Division I football, and they’re all playing in a playoff game. It’s been cool to see Coach Swift pull that thing out of the mud over there.”

George Washington football primed for Class 3A playoffs behind first pair of Division I commits since 1989 (1)

To Marini’s point, as eighth graders both Evans and Honeycutt were considering open enrolling at one of the state’s more traditional football powers. But their relationship with Swift, and his influence on their lives on and off the field, changed their minds.

“Going into high school, my full attention was going on Cherry Creek, and Silas was likely going to go to Mullen,” Honeycutt said. “GW was not really at the top of my list going into high school, but that changed. Coach Swift played a big part in that change. When we heard he got the head coaching job at George, that sold us.”

Swift describes himself as a “father-coach.”

“We have that relationship where (players and I) laugh and joke all day, but when it’s time to get serious, they can tell my demeanor changes and it’s time to knock it off,” Swift said. “They can tell when I’m in coach mode, and when it’s time to go, and we both respect that.

“I told those kids I had built relationships with before I took the job to come play at George Washington, the home school for most of those kids, and see what we could do to re-build the program. Come play, see what it looks like, and ever since then it’s been nothing but respect and love for these kids. And when I look at them, they reciprocate the same thing.”

George Washington’s lone loss this year was a 48-13 drubbing to Far Northeast on Oct. 1, a matchup Swift called GW’s “respect game.” The coach said the loss to the Class 5A DPS opponent set the table for their current five-game win streak.

“I truly believe that loss helped us go on a run for the league tittle, because we saw adversity and what we were going to do when things didn’t go our way,” Swift said. “We were down 29-14 with five minutes left in the third quarter of the Fredrick game, and we kept battling and ended up running off some touchdowns to win.”

On Saturday, Evans said the key to beating Holy Family is starting fast against the Tigers, who have been perennial playoff contenders.

“We are 9-1 for a reason — we just have to live up to that,” Evans said. “We can really be a dominant team, but sometimes we don’t see that. We need to hype up to it like the team we really are.”

George Washington football primed for Class 3A playoffs behind first pair of Division I commits since 1989 (2)

To remind themselves of that, perhaps the Patriots should look back, as Swift’s anecdote from his season as Futures coach suggests. That year, he said the Patriots’ eighth graders “shocked some people” by beating a program from West Middle School that hadn’t lost in a few years.

“We went and upset them, and that’s when the kids started believing early on that this could be something special,” Swift said. “With me being an alum here, this season is everything coming full circle right now because we won the league title my senior year. We’re bringing the team back to its winning ways, and that makes everyone here proud.”

The Patriots have appeared in three 3A championship games in their history, but never won the title. They lost 35-20 to Lakewood in 1960, the school’s first year, then also lost 12-6 to Wheat Ridge in 1966 and 21-19 to Wasson in 1971.

Saturday’s kickoff is at 1 p.m. at Mike G. Gabriel Athletic Stadium in Broomfield.

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George Washington football primed for Class 3A playoffs behind first pair of Division I commits since 1989 (3)

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