Our Lady of Good Counsel High School linebacker Marcel Ngachie has a phrase he repeats to himself from time to time:
“Everything I’m not made me everything I am.”
Ngachie was not 14-years old when he entered high school.
He initially wanted to attend St. John’s (D.C.) College High School, but there was an error with his transcript and he never successfully reached the school to clear up the issue. DeMatha Catholic — Good Counsel’s opponent this Sunday in the WCAC championship game (2 p.m. in Annapolis) — was the only other private school to accept him, but he enrolled at public Springbrook High School at the last moment.
“I was kind of lost,” Ngachie said.
One day, he stopped by a Olney Boys & Girls Club U-13 football practice to say hello to a friend on the team. Ngachie started talking to the coaches, who realized Ngachie was still young enough to compete, and they — including head coach Sal Gorgone, who’s also the linebackers coach on Good Counsel’s freshman team — convinced him to join the team instead of playing at Springbrook.
Good Counsel, located in Olney, scouted several Olney Boys & Girls Club games and began recruiting him. Ngachie says Good Counsel’s other highly touted players taught him how to approach football, crediting them with much of his success.
“If I didn’t go [to] their practice that [day] just to say, ‘Hi,’ I don’t know where I would be today to be honest,” Ngachie said. “I wouldn’t be the person that I am or the athlete that I am.”
Ngachie is not 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds.
He knows it, too. Instead of trying to emulate those highly touted teammates, Ngachie — 6-foot and 210 pounds — tried to outdo them every chance he got.
“I knew I had to work that much harder to be like them,” Ngachie said
Good Counsel coach Bob Milloy places Ngachie in the same class as fellow Good Counsel linebackers Akeem Hebron (Georgia), Jelani Jenkins (Florida) and Dorian O’Daniel (committed to Clemson). But Ngachie has not received that level of college interest.
The University of Virginia, Syracuse University, University of Delaware and University of Hawaii have offered scholarships. University of Richmond, James Madison University, Penn State University, University of Maryland and Wake Forest University have shown interest.
“Maryland doesn’t seem to want him because I think it’s all his size,” Milloy said. “As a high school coach, I think that’s insane.
“If you get a great player, you just take him, man. He makes great plays for us. He’ll make great players for anybody.”
Milloy called it a weekly occurrence that Ngachie comes from nowhere to deliver a powerful tackle.
“If I was playing offense, I’d have to know where that guy was every play,” Milloy said. “Because I don’t want him hitting me without me knowing it’s coming. He comes out of nowhere, and it’s, ‘Wow.’ He will hit you.”
Ngachie is not the son of American-born parents.
His mom and dad are from Cameroon, where they developed a friendship with the family of Moise Fokou. Ngachie believes he and Fokou, who now plays for the Indianapolis Colts, are probably cousins because their families were part of the same tribe in Cameroon, but either way, the two grew up together and are close.
Fokou had no major scholarship offers coming from high school at Bullis, went to Frostburg State and then walked on at Maryland, where he became a star. Ngachie says he gets advice from Fokou and sees a path to follow.
“His story really reminds me of mine,” Ngachie said, ”because nobody believed in him. He worked so hard for everything he earned.
“He had a mindset that nobody could stop him.”