While every game is important, one thing that Coach Fred Kim and the Seneca Valley football team is not used to feeling is the pressure of a thrid straight loss. The last time Kim had lost two in a row, was 2009 when the Screamin’ Eagles dropped the first two games and finished 6-4. Seneca has only lost more than three games in the regular season twice since Kim took over as head coach in 2004, the 6-4 2009 season and the 7-3 2013 season.
Seneca was headed to Poolesville with the pressure of losing four games in a season.
However, a win over the 3-3 Poolesville Falcons and Connell Oberman, their hard-hitting running back, was not going to be an easy one. The resurgent Poolesville squad has been playing teams tough all season. Two of the Falcons losses came by a combined three points, a one-point, 27-26 overtime loss to Walter Johnson to start the season and a 14-12 loss to Blake on September 22. Poolesville had wins over Winters Mill, Kennedy, and was coming off a 47-6 victory over Rockville.
“This was huge,” said Kim after the 20-14 victory. “Obviously, the loss last week to Magruder was devastating, even the Blake loss hurt. I can’t remember the last time Seneca Valley has dropped two in a row. We needed this one.”
Seneca Valley scored first on a 6 yard run by senior Derell Beckett-Simms. They would get the ball back thanks to the first of three interceptions by senior Harold Dotson. However, the Poolesville defense would keep the Eagles from scoring.
Seneca would find the endzone again on this 15 yard run by junior Thomas Jennings to extend the lead to 14-0. On the next drive, it would Dotson again ending another promising Poolesville drive with his second interception of the game.
The Falcons would score on this 45 yard run by senior Connell Oberman to cut the lead to 14-7. It was the first of two TDs for Oberman. His second would come in the fourth quarter and give the Falcons hope for a comeback.
Seneca would add to their scoring after a pass from Seneca’s Michael Kapneck to Jamal Snowden set up this touchdown run by junior Eric Gomez to extend the lead to 20-7.
After a fourth-quarter touchdown from Oberman to cut the lead to 20-14, the Falcons defense came with a big third down stop and got the ball back. A long pass from Ethan Gaddis to senior Sam Garrett gave the Falcon faithful hope for a last minute drive, but Seneca’s Harold Dotson stepped in front of an ill-advised pass from a scrambling Gaddis to end the scoring threat. Dotson would do some scrambling and eventually score, but an inadvertent whistle would prevent Dotson from scoring.
“Harold has been unbelievable for us at every side of the ball,” said Kim after the game. “He plays offense at wide out, running back, and, heck he’d probably play center and nose guard if we asked him to do it. But moving him from safety to cornerback has really solidified a lot of things for us. He might have 10 interceptions this year so far this year; he has at least eight.”
The win over Poolesville ended the two-game losing streak, and Kim talked about the team’s performance in the previous two games. “The last couple of weeks we beat ourselves. Blake and Magruder did a great job, and I am not taking anything away from them. My hat is off to them and their effort, but we beat ourselves. We had to sit and suspend some kids for the Blake game, so it all started there. Also, when the whistle blew against Magruder (last Friday), we had 13 starters that normally played not on that field. However, we are not going to sacrifice the integrity and honor of our football program, especially for all the alums and great coaches, which have set this place up with the football legacy that we have just to get a dirty victory and not do things the right way.”
Seneca Valley is a small team in terms of the number of players in uniform, compared to other teams, and to have 13 players not play obviously hurt the Eagles as they played a team with a full complement of players.
“We preach character,” continued Kim. “We have our own character coach. We do character lessons twice-a-week in season and once a week during the off-season. I would be a hypocrite in the eyes of the players if I allowed certain behaviors to go unnoticed and not be held accountable. At the end of the day, we want to win, but it is about us building young men. We are educators. It is a tough world out there, and we want to help these young men understand what accountability is — I think that is a lost word in today’s vocabulary. We have let them know that you will be held accountable if you don’t follow the rules. Losing a game hurts — but what is worse is when you mess up in the real world — lose a job, go to jail, hurt somebody, any of those things are magnified tenfold compared to missing a football game.”
Poolesville drops to 3-4 and will travel to play 3-4 Watkins Mill, who is coming off a 42-18 thumping by Damascus on Friday. With the win, Seneca Valley improves to 4-3 and will host the 3-4 Churchill Bulldogs next week. Churchill is coming off a 33-19 home loss to Blake. Seneca will play at Gaithersburg at 7:00 pm.
Top: Seneca’s Harold Dotson (11) grabs his thrid interception of the game to end the final Poolesville scoring threat and secure the victory for the Eagles.
Video: Seneca Valley defeated Poolesville 20-14.
Next: Poolesville’s senior running back Connell Oberman (21) ran for two touchdowns during Friday’s game.
Next: The Falcons’ defense was tough all night. Here junior Clark Trone (87) tackles Seneca Valley’s Michael Kapneck.
Next: Seneca Valley’s junior running back Eric Gomez (17) scored at touchdown Friday night.
Photos and video by Germantown Pulse.