Those numbers are a product of better footwork following the loss to Northwest on Oct. 11, Cooper said, and he’ll need to work through his progressions again this week when the Panthers (7-1, 4-0 Montgomery 4A East) host the talented defense of
“Coaches have really tried to emphasize that and press that down on me at practice, and just staying through my progressions and not force a bad play,” Cooper said. “We feel like we can move the ball on anybody, so it will just be another game.”
Cooper certainly moved the ball at will last week against the Barons, throwing for five touchdown passes. Sherwood, with a secondary that features versatile Elijah Spottswood (two interceptions against Quince Orchard) and Alec Perez (seven interceptions this season), has allowed just five touchdown passes all season. Cooper said he will be focused on keeping his “feet alive,” Friday, extending plays when he sees pressure. Cooper, who also leads the team in rushing with 397 yards and 12 touchdowns, has also thrown 24 touchdown passes. Of those scores, 11 have gone to senior Javonn Curry (41 catches, 600 yards) and eight have found the waiting hands of Ryan Stango (39 catches, 625 yards).
“I’m happy that he can take a lot of pressure off of me,” Curry said of Stango, “and that he can make the plays that he can.”
With two weeks to go, this game will likely determine the Montgomery County 4A East champ, and will have major implications on home-field advantage. That is a crucial piece of winning in November, Curry said, although as Cooper put it, the offense will run fast-paced regardless.
“It’s nothing that we can’t really handle,” Cooper said. “[Sherwood] will give us a good run for our money. . . we just have to do what we’re capable of doing.”
Uphill climb for Montgomery 3A squads
The Maryland 3A West region ranks among the toughest in the MPSSAA, one that routinely places four championship contenders in the postseason each year.
Talented teams have been left out of the playoffs in the past as a result, and this year looks no different.
Of all the playoff divisions in each classification, the 3A West has the most combined undefeated and one-loss teams remaining with four. That has led to a high points average at the top, leaving a few of the Montgomery County teams sitting on the outside looking in with two weeks to go.
Damascus (7-1) has clinched a playoff berth with an points average of 9.81. The next closest Montgomery County team is Seneca Valley (5-3), tied for fifth place, with 5.88. Rockville (5.50) and Einstein (5.43) are in eighth and ninth place, respectively.