Kevin Joppy’s first two weeks of school at Quince Orchard have been an exercise in patience, and more importantly, calmness. He is still learning his way around the Gaithersburg school, which is much larger than his former school, Seneca Valley. He’s comforted each day by a diverse schedule, he said, including a third period forensics class that he counts as another step toward graduation in the spring.
His comfort level rises two-fold by the end of each school day, when he gears up for football practice with the Cougars. There were no nerves last Friday night when he was strapping up for the team’s opener against Clarksburg, because to Joppy, football is football, whether it’s at the 4A level with Quince Orchard or with 3A Seneca Valley.
He transferred away from Seneca Valley after his family moved this summer, and Joppy hasn’t missed a beat on the field with his new team. He was a star again Friday night, running for 106 yards and a touchdown and adding an interception in the Cougars 35-7 win over the Coyotes.
“I did what I had to do,” Joppy said of his debut Friday. “I was running pretty hard. I wasn’t going down on the first hit.”
There are little differences in playing between the two classifications, said Joppy, and expectations to win are high at both schools. But the 5-foot-11, 180-pound running back hasn’t been overwhelmed with the pressure of playing for Dave Mencarini at Quince Orchard, which has made appearances in the Maryland 4A state title game each of the last two seasons.
“At Seneca, we always lost like, first round or second round. I’m not 100 percent sure what it takes to get to state,” Joppy said. “I have to work hard, I know that.”
Joppy adds another dimension to Quince Orchard’s offense, which looked in midseason form in the opener behind Mike Murtaugh’s 247 yards passing and four touchdowns. He’s comfortable running out of the backfield, where most of his carries came – but he also took several carries out of the slot on jet-sweeps and played safety on defense.
The most difficult adjustment for Joppy during his senior season is remaining healthy. He suffered a concussion against Quince Orchard as a freshman with Seneca Valley, and missed time as a sophomore after being kneed in the head during a game. Last season, he was sidelined during the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He is known primarily for his speed and agility in the open field, but he is also out to prove that he can be an every-down back this fall, a player who will run between the tackles with durability.
Joppy has attracted interest from N.C. State, Pittsburgh and Temple, and said Delaware and Monmouth have shown recent interest.
“I’m trying my best to stay healthy right now,” Joppy said. “I’ve got a lot of interest… whoever offers me, I’m going to take what’s best for me.”
NUMBER CRUNCH: 124
The number of yards gained by Solomon Vault on four touchdown runs in Saturday’s 32-7 win over Sherwood. Vault, a Northwestern recruit, finished with 155 yards, and added 35 yards on two receptions and a 31 kickoff return in the second half of the win.
– In case you missed it Saturday, Wise rallied from a 14-0 deficit to win 20-14 over Douglass in the “Battle of Upper Marlboro.”
– In this week’s “More Than a Game” feature, a Bethesda Chevy-Chase parent proves high school football events are sometimes dependent on volunteer contributions.
PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND
FIRST AND 17: Episode 2
WHAT TO WATCH
Volleyball: Damascus at Walter Johnson, 6:30 p.m.
The season kicks for both of these squads in Bethesda, and both the Swarmin’ Hornets and Wildcats are eyeing promising campaigns in 2013. Walter Johnson, which finished 17-2 last season, swept Damascus (12-4) in their meeting last fall.