With Heavy Hearts, Northwest Earns Victory Over Churchill
Sports aren’t just about playing heavy-handed — they’re also about playing with a heavy heart.
After the tragic passing of 17-year-old Northwest High School student Josh Snyder just two days earlier, the Jaguars varsity football team headed to Potomac Friday night to play the Winston Churchill Bulldogs and play their hearts out in memory of Josh.
“It was a very hard week,” Northwest head coach Mike Neubeiser said. “It’s tough for us to deal with. I care about Josh a lot, and I told them to play for Josh. He’s looking down on us right now.”
The Jaguars (5-1) would prevail 40-28 over the previously-undefeated Bulldogs (5-1), but the win meant a lot more than any other to Josh’s former JV teammates and classmates that took the field.
“I just told them to stay focused and just know that he’s with us,” Neubeiser said. “We didn’t want to talk about it too much. It’s hard to talk about, obviously, but we just did it for him tonight.”
Churchill’s offense, which had put up 42 or more points in each of its previous four games, started slowly, going three-and-out on the game’s opening drive after a third-down sack by senior linebacker Rha Overstreet.
The Jaguars, on the other hand, were hot out of the gate as senior quarterback Jack Anders connected with senior wide receiver A.J. Woods for a 77-yard catch-and-run touchdown on their first play from scrimmage.
The Bulldogs’ offense began to find its footing on the second drive, with senior quarterback Michael Janis and senior running back Patrick Richardson leading the charge. Richardson would march into the end zone off a 12-yard run to even the score at 7-7 with three and a half minutes left in the quarter.
Northwest looked to respond quickly as a 20-yard screen pass from Anders to junior wide receiver Isiah Williams took them down to the Churchill 35-yard line. Two plays later, Anders was intercepted by senior defensive back Darius Reed who returned it to Churchill’s 38-yard line.
The first quarter ended with a pair of Jaguars sacks, with both senior defensive back Ardo Ba and senior defensive end DeAndre Jules taking Janis down in the backfield.
A short punt to the Churchill 45-yard line gave Northwest excellent field position to start the second quarter. Strong runs by junior running back Ajahni Terry helped bring the ball down to the 9-yard line, which led to a short touchdown pass from Anders to Isiah Williams and a 14-7 lead with nine minutes left in the half.
The Bulldogs were held to another three-and-out, and another short punt set up the Jaguars offense in Bulldogs territory for the second straight possession. Anders and Woods made short work of the defense a second time, connecting on the first play of the drive for a 39-yard score.
Northwest’s defense forced its first takeaway of the game on Churchill’s second play of the drive when Jules forced a fumble on a Janis sack, which senior defensive end Jaylin Blue returned 39 yards for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead for Northwest with six and a half minutes to go in the half.
Richardson and Janis put together multiple big runs on Churchill’s next drive, eventually capping it off with a two-yard Richardson touchdown run to narrow the gap to 28-14.