WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — As the defending DCSAA champions, Friendship Collegiate attended the 2023 DC News Now high school football media day flashing a new fancy championship ring.

The win was the Knights’ fifth DCSAA title in program history, but the path to it wasn’t easy.

“We was able to play Friendship football all season, deal with some adversity,” Friendship Collegiate head coach Mike Hunter, entering his ninth season leading the program, said. “But at the end, we came out on top.”

After a tough 3-7 season in 2021, the Knights rebounded in 2022, led by Mike Hunter. Friendship defeated Roosevelt in the championship game.

“We had a tough time coming out of COVID during the 2021 season,” Hunter told DC News Now. “Those guys battled back during the 2022 season to really put Friendship back on the map. We was able to play Friendship football all season, deal with some adversity, but at the end, we came out on top.”

Entering 2023, the Knights are confident and they say it’s all about defending their crown in the district.

“We’re so excited. We’re ready to get back at it. We feel as though,” Friendship Collegiate senior defensive lineman and Penn State commit DeAndre Cook said. “We know as though, that we’re going to go back-to-back.”

Friendship is scheduled to open its season at Dunbar on Friday at 6:00 p.m.

“Winning the championship last year, that was big for us. Coming off of the 2021 season, going 3-7, I feel like that was a statement for us and that was very important for the city,” Friendship Collegiate senior running back and linebacker Donte West said. “And just coming into this year, I feel like we have more to prove like with everybody coming after us and we’re defending the championship.”