Coach Spotlight: Arie Kouandjio

DeMatha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Md., and Coach Bill McGregor have done this before. DeMatha has a new set of ultra-talented football playing siblings only a year apart. Making up the Stags offensive line in 2009 were senior Arie Kouandjio at left tackle, and over at right side tackle is younger brother, junior Cyrus Kouandjio. Both have major colleges drooling for their services.

Many football fans are familiar with the Westbrook brothers. Brian, a mainstay at running back with the Philadelphia Eagles since 2002 graduated from DeMatha in 1997. Five years later, Brian's younger brother, Byron, would graduate DeMatha in 2002 and go on to join the Washington Redskins in 2007 as a defensive back.

Fast forward to 2010 where Arie Kouandjio (6-5, 318) has received offers from Alabama, Cal, USC, Miami, and New Mexico to name a few and is still undecided about where he'll sign.

"I've been telling him he needs to hurry up and make his decision," laughs Coach McGregor.

DeMatha produced six straight WCAC championships from 2003-2008. In 2004 McGregor was named High School Coach of the Year by the NFL, nominated by former player, Brian Westbrook. He has players going to Iowa, Virginia, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, and Cal from this year's group of seniors. DeMatha has established itself as a premier school for high school athletics often recognized by Sports Illustrated for its excellence.

"Arie has played on the varsity for three seasons and has spent the last two as a starter for us," said McGregor. "He's big, strong, athletic, and very coachable with good intangibles."

Arie Kouandjio was named to a number of honors his senior season including All-WCAC, All-County, All-Metro from the Washington Post, and All-State in Maryland.

"Arie's improved as a player all three years," McGregor said. "He's got a strong lower body and gets down low on block, has good feet, and plays with good balance. His best football days are definitely ahead of him. In college he'll probably add a few more pounds and continue to strengthen his upper body. I think he's to develop into a top of the line player at the college level."

The Stags were on the cusp of another league championship, but were beaten by Our Lady of Good Council and finished the year 11-1, the first non-championship season at DeMatha for the Kouandjio brothers.

"Arie's a great kid," said McGregor. "He makes good grades in the classroom. There just aren't any negatives you can say about Arie."

Although they may not choose to attend the same university together, another thing the Kouandjio brothers will have in common is playing in the U.S. Army All-American game. Arie competed this year, and Cyrus has already been chosen to participate in next year's game in San Antonio.

Slightly taller than his older brother at 6-6, Cyrus is around 300 pounds. He already has a dozen offers from many of the preeminent programs in the country.

"Cyrus was All-WCAC this year as well," said McGregor. "He was also named to an All-DC area team. This was his first year as a starter and second on varsity. He's doing fine in the classroom where he's a 2.8 student."

Their surname name may be hard for fans and TV announcers alike to pronounce at first. Their father is from the nation of Cameroon originally.

"Their father isn't much of a football guy," says McGregor. "Being from Cameroon he's very much into soccer. I don't think he made too many of their games this season. They're real good people. Both are great kids who've worked real hard to get where they are."

Right now they're both in Hyattsville, Md. finishing their course work at DeMatha, but where the brothers will spend their next four years is a hot topic of conversation in recruiting circles at least until the first Wednesday in February of 2011.

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