One of the base ingredients to make good football is a rivalry. When two teams have a history and are evenly matched it makes for a good rivalry. Now if you want to make something truly spectacular add a healthy dose of revenge and a regional championship into the mix.
This Friday, Germantown football fans have been blessed (or cursed) with two such potentially spectacular games to choose from, as the Northwest Jaguars will face bitter rivals Quince Orchard and Seneca Valley will face longtime rivals Damascus in the regional championship games of the 4A West and 3A West divisions, respectively.
Germantown football fans have a tough question to answer. Which game are you going to attend? Germantown is the only city in the State of Maryland with two high school football teams remaining in the Maryland State tournaments.
Both teams will be on the road this Friday; Northwest will travel just four miles to Quince Orchard for the second time this season. The Jags fell to the Cougars in the first battle of the Big Cats 28-7 back on October 16. Seneca Valley, meanwhile, will travel nine miles up Route 27 to Damascus after losing 21-3 at home back on October 31.
The two-time defending 4A state champion Jags are 8-3 this season and are coming off a huge 33-21 victory over the Richard Montgomery to set up the rematch with 9-1 Quince Orchard, who blew out Blair 48-17 last week.
“Our team is very focused on the task at hand,” said Northwest Head Coach Mike Neubeiser this week. “QO is one of the top teams in the state. They are very good in all three phases of the game; offense, defense, and special teams.”
When asked what the Jags learned in their first meeting, Neubeiser played it close to the vest saying, “We learned that QO is fundamentally sound and that we needed to improve on blocking, tackling and catching the football.”
In their last meeting, the potent Quince Orchard rushing game chewed up over 300 yards and averaged over eight yards per carry against the Northwest defense. If the Jags hope to continue their journey towards a three-peat, the defense will have to find a way to shut down the QO running game.
Meanwhile, fourteen miles to the north, 9-1 Seneca Valley will have to find a way to stop Jake Funk and the 11-0 Damascus running game. Funk ran for 282 yards and average eight-yards per carry in the October 30 meeting between the 3A West powerhouses.
“We must tackle better,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Fred Kim. “We can’t allow him to lean on us and fall for two, three, or four extra yards. And we must limit his explosive plays of 15 or more yards. We can also help ourselves by controlling the ball on offense and win time of possession. The last game they killed us in that aspect. If we can keep Damascus’s offense off the field, Funk can’t run for 262 yards.”
“This is obviously a huge game not only for us but for both programs,” said Kim. “This is the Regional Finals to get us into the final four. Both programs are looking forward to this game. We have the great fortune of having an opportunity for a rematch from earlier this year.”
Kim said the Screaming Eagles are treating this game as both a playoff game and a rivalry game. “No doubt it will be an emotional game because of everything at stake, and there is a little bit more zip because it is Damascus,” he said.
Kim said the last meeting taught the Eagles a few things about themselves. “We learned that we need to execute, communicate, and play our fundamentals better. One mistake can cost you against them. They will make you pay. Therefore, we must eliminate our mental errors or in reality, keep them at a bare minimum.”
The Screaming Eagles are coming off of an emotional road upset of Linganore on Friday night. Seneca Valley exploded for 21 points in the first quarter but cooled off and let the Lancers come back to make it a game. The final score saw Seneca Valley hold off previously unbeaten Linganore 30-27.
“We came out fast and finished that game under tremendous adversity,” said Kim. “Our kids came up big with under unbelievable pressure. I was extremely proud of their resolve and intestinal fortitude. Beating Linganore at their home field, in a playoff game, under hostile conditions, after no one thought we would win, was very satisfying and a huge accomplishment for our student-athletes.”
However, that was last week. This week Seneca Valley will take on another unbeaten team, one they know well. “It means a lot to us since we have not been there in the last two years,” said Coach Kim, “and having lost there in 2012 makes this a big hill to get over. We see this as everything — regional title game, a step to the State Championship, redemption, validation, and respect. There are many things that we can gain from winning this game.”
“We need everyone to step up,” said Kim. “Not just one player. We will need a collective effort from all team members to lead and come together to win this game. Our practice week will be intense, emotional, and tough. We will also need to be sharp without a doubt.”
Top: Seneca Valley and Damascus last met on Oct 30. Damascus won 21-3.
Next: Northwest's Devino Fraser (7) carries the ball in the Jags last meeting with Quince Orchard.
Next: Northwest and Quince Orchard last met on Oct. 16. Quince Orchard won 28-7.
Next: Damascus running back Jake Funk (34).
Photos by Germantown Pulse.