There’s no denying it — 2018 has not been a good year for Seneca Valley varsity football.
Finishing the season 2-8, the Screaming Eagles two wins acted as bookends to a volume of games that most would to let sit on the shelf untouched for many years, and not re-visit. Seneca's last win came in the season opener against Rockville.
The Eagles not only failed to improve on their 6-4 mark from the previous year but also posted the worst win-loss record in program history.
Seneca Valley did manage to end its 2018 campaign on a high note, as the team dominated Wheaton (2-8) 48-12 at a rainy John Harvill Stadium in Gaithersburg Friday night.
"We wanted this to be a good solid victory, a dominating victory for us,” said Seneca Valley Head Coach Fred Kim. “My big emphasis was to get everyone in, and they didn’t quit, and they were still there the whole time. I was just so disappointed and disheartened for this senior class that they had to deal with something like this in their final year of football. They're great kids; I have tremendous respect for those kids that have stuck around through the tough times and finished strong."
“There are some exceptional young men in that senior class that unfortunately grew up and watched Seneca Valley's successes, and were not able to be part of that their senior year. Ending on a winning note was paramount for those guys."
The game, which was senior night for the Screaming Eagles, saw both teams combine for five touchdowns within a 72-second span in the second quarter.
Seneca Valley started the game slowly, punting on its opening possession, but got the ball back quickly as senior defensive back Mohammed Jalloh intercepted quarterback Olivier Zagadou with eight minutes to play in the first quarter.
Deep in their own territory, the Screaming Eagles drove downfield with the help of several big runs by sophomore running back Alex Holmes, who capped off the drive with a 5-yard run to put his team up 7-0 with five minutes to go.
After another Wheaton punt, Seneca Valley opened the second quarter faced with a fourth-and-1 at the Wheaton 42-yard line. Seneca Valley would convert it, and Holmes would eventually punch it in from the 1-yard line to make it 14-0 with just over nine minutes left in the half.
Jalloh would get his second interception of the day on the Knights’ next possession, returning it all the way to the Knights’ 13-yard line. That set up a 13-yard score by Holmes on the Screaming Eagles’ next play to make it 20-0 at the 6:09 mark.
Wheaton immediately responded just 15 seconds later with a long kickoff return touchdown by senior Shavon Cameron to close the gap to 20-6.
Seneca Valley then scored on its next play from scrimmage, which was a 79-yard touchdown run by Holmes — his fourth of the half — to widen the gap to 26-6 with 5:32 to play.
The Knights got a touchdown on the first play of their next drive as well, courtesy of a 50-yard run by junior running back John Destine that made it 26-12 with 5:09 left in the half.
Twelve seconds later, the Screaming Eagles scored their own kickoff return touchdown by senior running back/linebacker Joseph Arana to put them up 34-12.
Senior linebacker Joseph Muturi would recover a Wheaton fumble in the backfield at the Wheaton 29-yard line, but Seneca Valley would turnover on downs just before halftime.
“The way we were able to finish the season off in dominating fashion kind of reminded us of what we once were and what we can be,” said Kim. “I thought the good thing about the last week of practice was that it was solid. They didn’t just go through the motions; they wanted to win."
The second half began with the Screaming Eagles fumbling the ball away inside the Knights’ 10-yard line, followed by punts by both teams on each of their next drives.
Wheaton’s second punt of the half midway through the third quarter barely passed the line of scrimmage, allowing junior defensive end Elijah Hyson to return it to the Wheaton 2-yard line.
The Screaming Eagles would score again, this time on a 3-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Don Coleman to senior wide receiver Paolo De Assis on fourth-and-goal to make it 40-12 with just over three minutes left in the quarter.
Wheaton punted to close out the third quarter, while Seneca Valley turned over on downs on fourth-and-26 to begin the fourth quarter.
Seneca Valley quickly regained possession after senior defensive back Piguedinam Daja recovered a fumble — Wheaton’s fourth turnover of the night — at the Seneca Valley 40-yard line.
Freshman running back Tylek Bright would finish the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, increasing the Screaming Eagles’ lead to 48-12 with just under 10 minutes to play and activating the running clock in the Screaming Eagles’ favor for the first time all season.
For a former 12-time Maryland state champion and perennial playoff powerhouse, the 2018 Seneca Valley season is hard to stomach.
"For that to happen under my watch is absolutely disheartening. It’s humiliating, and I’m embarrassed for the alums, the community, and former coaches. I’m sure everybody was stunned,” said Kim.
However, like the school that’s currently under construction where the Screaming Eagles’ storied football stadium stood for over 40 years, Screaming Eagle football is in the midst of rebuilding.
"We’re going to get back after it,” said Kim. “We’re not going to whittle away and feel sorry for ourselves. We’re going to work harder to get better results. Hard work doesn't guarantee success, but it does guarantee we won’t fail, and we’ll find a way in every aspect of what we do to get better.”
Top: Seneca Valley’s sophomore running back Alex Holmes (15) slices through the rain and the Wheaton Knights during Friday’s season wet and wild season finale.
Next: Seneca Valley’s senior defensive back Mohammed Jalloh (3) intercepted quarterback Olivier Zagadou in the first quarter.
Next: Alex Holmes (15) rushes into the endzone from the 13-yard line.
Next: Seneca Valley’s sophomore quarterback Don Coleman (11) tries to throw a pass through the driving rain during Friday’s victory over Wheaton.
Next: Seneca Valley’s senior runner Joseph Arana (24) carries the ball and follows fellow senior Nathan Coreas (52) through the line of scrimmage.
Photos by Germantown Pulse