As Playoffs Loom, Local Football Teams Face Challenges
By Kevin O’Rourke
The Germantown high school football teams have had wonderful seasons thus far, with only one loss between the two teams, they are a combined 13-1, the only loss being the game they played against each other.
This week however, will test both teams as the regular season begins to wind down, and the state playoffs loom.
Seneca Valley (6-1) will have the tougher challenge this week, as they travel up the road to face the unbeaten Damascus Swarmin’ Hornets, who have proven that they can beat some of the best teams in the county, with wins over Quince Orchard and Clarksburg, both of which are ranked in the MoCoFootball.com Elite 6.
“They will be very tough to beat,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Fred Kim. “This is one of their best teams in years. They are a complete team from top to bottom. They have threats everywhere and great lineman. They are well disciplined, tough, and well coached. Eric Wallich has one of the best staffs in the county, if not the state. They do an excellent job every year and are very tough to beat.”
Aside from being a difficult team to beat, the game has major post-season implications for the Screamin’ Eagles. As a result of their loss to Northwest earlier this year, and other Division 3A teams, Linganore High School and Urbana High School in Frederick County and South Hagerstown High School, having very good years, a Seneca Valley team with two losses has a slim chance of still making the post-season.
“It is extremely important we get off to a fast start again so that we do not fall behind,” said Coach Kim. “A fast start will allow us to gain momentum, and confidence against an outstanding football team. Especially defensively they are our very, very good.”
The Screaming Eagles will look to sophomore running back Adrian Feliz-Platt, who is in the conversation for Montgomery County Player of the year because of his explosiveness out of the back field. “If Adrian can get going, we can be put in a position to win the game,” said Kim. “That means our offensive line is able to block their tough front seven.”
“We absolutely will be ready,” said Kim. “We do not have a choice. If we win, we’re in. That has been our motto for the week. Our kids love playing there. It has a great atmosphere and will be a great game as always. So much is on the line in this game game, 3A Division title, a playoff berth, momentum into the playoffs, and possible homefield advantage through the playoffs.”
Historically, the Damascus/Seneca Valley games have been barnburners, with six of the last nine games decided by less than a touchdown. In the last two meetings, Seneca Valley has come up just short, losing 16-14 last year, and 14-13 in 2012. Damascus is coming off a 42-12 win over Rockville last Thursday night.
Meanwhile, the 7-0 Northwest Jaguars will travel to Clarksburg to face the 5-2 Coyotes. The Jags are hoping to avenge last year’s 14-13 loss to Clarksburg.
“We know it is going to take a very strong performance to be able to win at Clarksburg,” said Northwest Head Coach Michael Neubeiser.
“Clarksburg is an experienced team that plays fast and physical. They have a lot of very good football players who are well coached.”
The Jags are coming off an impressive 57-0 win over a winning team at Wootton last week, scoring 34 points in the first quarter.
“The first quarter at Wootton went a little better than expected,” said Neubeiser. “Any time you score on special teams and/or defense it is big,” he said.
Neubeiser admitted that even he was surprised by the Jags margin of victory in games this year. The Jags have an average point differential of 47 this season.
“I would not have guessed that we’d have scored 340 points and given up 12 points in the first seven games,” said Neubeiser. “We have been able to score quickly this season and defensively we’ve been able to get stops and create turnovers. It’s been a good start but it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. We have a lot of difficult games ahead of us.”
This week and next the Jags will step up from a very good team in 5-2 Clarksburg, to an excellent team in 6-1 Quince Orchard, they are ranked number three and number four in the MoCoFootball.com Elite 6. Northwest sits at the top, at number one and Damascus at number two, with Seneca Valley and Paint Branch rounding out the top five.
Top: The Seneca Valley offensive line, Michael Elbert (55) James Puhnaty (75), Wilson Badillo (67), Nathaniel Jack (57), awaits quarterback Zack Robinson to bring the play into the huddle during last week’s muddy victory over Watkins Mill. Also picture are running backs Darius Golston (30) and Adrian Feliz-Platt (7).
Next: The Jaguars celebrate in the end zone after a defensive touchdown in the game against Seneca Valley earlier this season. From left to right: Josh Netterville (81), Martin Foray (2) and Alphonso Foray (12).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.