Gaithersburg’s Vault to miss time with injury; Quince Orchard’s Mencarini gets win No. 100

Host B.J. Koubaroulis runs through the top plays from the weekend of football in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)
September 23, 2013

Gaithersburg’s Solomon Vault will miss at least two weeks after suffering a lower leg injury in the second quarter of a 24-7 win over Clarksburg Friday.

The standout running back said he suffered a hyperextension of his knee and tore a muscle in his calf after making a cut on a run against the Coyotes. He heard a “pop” in his knee during the play, and started to hold the knee after the play — thinking he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament.

“I thought it would be worse when it first happened. I’m just glad that I can play again,” said Vault, who is committed to Northwestern.

The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Vault was playing well before the injury on Friday. He returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, and had already gained 67 yards on seven carries and 50 yards on two catches. Vault, who ran for over 1,000 yards in both his sophomore and junior seasons, has rushed for 315 yards and seven touchdowns this season.

Gaithersburg (3-0, 1-0 Montgomery 4A West) will meet undefeated Northwest (3-0, 0-0) on Saturday afternoon, and will rely on running back Xaviyer Mosley, a 5-f00t-9, 170-pound speedster who has rushed for 121 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries this season.


After Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini was awarded the game ball for his 100th win, he handed it off to his father Joe, who has been coaching in Montgomery County for over four decades. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

“He’s very capable,” Vault said of Mosley. “I know we can win without me. We proved it on Friday. I went down for two quarters and it was a pretty close game...they held it down.”

Mencarini gets win No. 100

Dave Mencarini was doused with a cooler of water after Quince Orchard defeated Damascus, 7-6, Friday night, his player dancing around him. For those that merely orbit around the Cougars, this was an odd scene, considering it was a mid-September game that Mencarini’s players expected to win. But for those that live and breathe with the team every week, this one was special.

Friday night’s all-out struggle was a classic Montgomery County defensive showdown, and Mencarini wouldn’t have had it any other way for his 100th win at Quince Orchard. His first win at the school was also his first win as a varsity football coach, which came nine years ago when the Cougars beat Wootton 43-9 in the 2004 season opener. Since then Mencarini has lost just 16 games, winning one Maryland 3A state title in 2007 (the Cougars moved up to 4A in 2011) and two second-place finishes in the 4A title game (2011, 2012). Mencarini has won 10 or more games in seven of his nine seasons, and Quince Orchard has gone 55-2 against league opponents since 2004. In all nine seasons, Mencarini has led his team to the state playoffs, and only in 2004 did the Cougars not win at least one postseason game.

On Friday, he was just happy to escape with his latest win. It took a last minute effort from the Quince Orchard (3-0, 1-0) defense, which forced Damascus to miss a 44-yard field goal with 46 seconds left.

“I think it was more important that we won this game, for this team. Being 3-0, beating a great Damascus team in a really hard-fought game, I think it’s more important than my 100th win,” Mencarini said. “It was emotional afterwards in the fact that . . . the kids gave me the game ball. In my mind, I thought what better way to recognize the great coaches, and the people I had around me.”

After Mencarini was awarded the ball, he handed it off to his father Joe, who has been coaching in Montgomery County for over four decades – and has spent the last 10 years coaching as an assistant under his son at Quince Orchard.

“He’s been by my side for all 100 wins,” Mencarini said. “It was more important that he got the ball than me.”

Damascus’s Christian has patient approach

Damascus junior cornerback Jalen Christian now holds 17 offers from Division I schools around the country.

Christian, though, has no timeline to make a decision. In fact, that offer list could grow before he decides to focus his attention on any teams.

Christian, a four-star recruit according to Rivals.com, visited Notre Dame in August but has yet to receive a scholarship offer from the Fighting Irish. As more schools show interest, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to limit his options at this time.

“I need to get a couple of games and visits in and then I’ll narrow the list down,” Christian said.

Damascus Coach Eric Wallich said Christian’s looking for a school with a strong academic background.

“Education is important to his family,” Wallich said. “As for proximity, I’m not sure how important that is for him.”

Nearby schools to offer Christian include Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech and West Virginia. Clemson, Oklahoma, Ohio State, South Carolina and Wisconsin have also offered.

Though Christian has a long way to go in his recruitment, he said various schools are looking at him at different positions. Some want him to play defensive back while others prefer for him to be a slot receiver. He has no preference on where he plays at the next level.

“Either way, I’m going to compete for a starting position,” Christian said.

Einstein’s Wilson bounces back

Khalil Wilson had a night he and his teammates won’t forget anytime soon.

On Friday against Rockville, the Einstein running back churned out 409 yards and five touchdowns in a 48-35 win.

The 5-8, 240-pound back was tough to bring down, showcasing his vision in Einstein’s first win of the season.

“We thought we could do some things on the ground,” Einstein Coach Jermaine Howell said. “It was beyond our wildest dreams that it would be this good.”

A year ago, Wilson was one of the state of Maryland’s most productive runners, tallying 1,567 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Wilson’s fortunate he’s been able to participate in both of Einstein’s games. In late June, Wilson tore his meniscus which required surgery. He wasn’t cleared until the week of the Damascus game, a 49-22 loss on Sept. 6.

Einstein’s week two game against North Harford was canceled due to inclement weather and won’t be rescheduled. With the added rest, Wilson had the metro area’s top statistical performance last Friday.

“He’s become very patient,” Howell said. “He’s already a big, bruising back but the kid is proving to be one of the best in the area for the second year in a row.”

Defense as impressive as offense at Wootton

Wootton’s high-flying attack has generated some buzz throughout Montgomery County.

Quarterback Sam Ellis has already thrown for 989 yards and nine touchdowns. In last Friday’s 41-0 win against Churchill, wide receiver Jibri Woods caught 10 passes for 185 yards and a touchdown.

However, the Patriots’ defense has also stepped up early this season.

In three games, Wootton has shut out two opponents with the defense surrendering an average of only 135 total yards per game.

In the win over Churchill, sophomore Trevon Diggs, who had two offensive touchdowns as a wideout, scored the game’s first points with a 40-yard interception return for a score.

The Patriots, at 3-0, are the only remaining undefeated team in the Montgomery County 4A South region.

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