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Poolesville Falls to Walter Johnson in Two-Field Opener

Like almost every opening week high school football game in Montgomery County, the Poolesville vs. Walter Johnson game was a two-parter, but this one had an added extra twist in that it was finished on a different field from where it started.

The Falcons lost the opener 42-26 to Walter Johnson in a game that started on Poolesville’s home field on Friday night but ended in John Harvil Stadium at Gaithersburg High School on Saturday afternoon.

Both teams are playing their first seasons under new head coaches, Poolesville is now coached by former Northwest assistant and offensive coordinator Justin Sickeri, who was on staff at Northwest and help coach the Jaguars to back-to-back state titles in 2014 and 20, while Walter Johnson is coached by former Clarksburg High School head coach Larry Hurd Jr.

The game started well for Poolesville at their home field, but the second half and the postponement and moving of the game caused the Falcons to lose their home mojo.

After allowing the first touchdown early in the first quarter, when the Wildcats’ sophomore running back Ian Griffin ran into the endzone, the Falcons answered right back to two scores of their own.

The first came when sophomore quarterback Aaron Brown found senior wideout Niko Sofelkanik on a three-yard pass to tie the game at 6-6. The Falcons would be in the endzone again, about three minutes later when junior Colin Hemingway would author a touchdown run to give Poolesville a 13-6 lead, after a point-after kick by Xavier Kresslein with 3:55 left in the first.

Walter Johnson would come back with a pair of drives, and two one-yard touchdown runs by junior quarterback Josh Forburger, The Wildcats would only convert one PAT to go up 19-13. Walter Johnson would extend the lead with a 26-yard field goal by senior kicker Shawn Van O’Linda in the final seconds of the first half. Wildcats took a 22-13 lead into halftime.

Poolesville came out of the half and cut the lead to just two points after a 55 yard run by Hemingway, which he followed up with a short, declarative 5-yard touchdown run. The lead was cut to two points, 22-20.

However, the Wildcat’s Forburger wasn’t done, he scampered into the endzone, and the ‘cats added a two-point conversion to extend the lead to 30-20 with 8:24 left in the third quarter. And then the rain and lightning came, and play was suspended in Poolesville for the night, to be picked up at noon on Saturday at a new location, the turf at Gaithersburg High School.

The Wildcats would score on a 20-yard pass play to extend the lead to 37-20 with 5:00 remaining in the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Falcons' Ethan Gaddis would break a long run down to the three-yard line and would finish the job with a three-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 37-26. The scoring would end the way it began with a touchdown by the Wildcats’ Ian Griffin, who would break tackles and run for a 40-yard touchdown to cap the scoring at 42-26.

The Falcons will travel to play Kennedy next Friday. The Cavaliers are coming off a 56-12 drubbing by Clarksburg on opening weekend.


Top: Poolesville’s senior wide receiver Niko Sofelkanik (8) runs down the sideline. He would score to tie the game at 6-6 in the first quarter on Friday night in Poolesville.

Next: Walter Johnson’s sophomore running back Ian Griffin (5) would score twice once in Poolesville and once in Gaithersburg, as the Wildcats beat the Falcons 42-26.

Next: Poolesville senior quarterback Brandon Taylor (5) hands the ball off to junior running back Colin Hemingway (16). He would score twice in the game.

Next: Poolesville’s Ethan Gaddis (2) runs for a touchdown late in the game.

Photos by Mark Kasten

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