The Maryland 4A playoffs, as Clarksburg Coach Larry Hurd sees it, started for the Coyotes in early October. Clarksburg started the season 2-3, and in its first three games it was outscored 73-21. After a wrenching 13-12 loss to No. 6 Damascus on October 4, Clarksburg was facing the challenge of winning its final five games in order to have a realistic chance at the postseason.
And that’s exactly what happened. What followed a shaky start was one of the better runs in the area this season — and after beating Richard Montgomery, 33-7, on Friday night, Clarksburg (7-3) is the Maryland 4A West region’s No. 4 seed and will meet top-seeded Quince Orchard in Friday’s first round.
“We’ve been in the playoffs and had to win every week. So this is basically the sixth week of the playoffs,” Hurd said. “The kids have really responded. We’ve had some really, really big wins.”
Against Richard Montgomery, Clarksburg’s running game had one of its best performances of the season. Running back Travis Holland ran 21 times for 167 yards, and Tyler Fenslau added 18 carries for 162 yards and five touchdowns. Fenslau was especially effective in the red zone, scoring on runs of 5, 5, 3, 6 and 5 yards. It was Fenslau who came up with the key touchdown run and two-point conversion run in the final moments of a 14-13 win against Northwest last month, which was the signature win of the Coyotes’ turnaround.
This was the type of season Hurd envisioned back in August, when he was preparing to return 11 players that started games as sophomores in 2012. The Coyotes played a brutal schedule last fall as well. All of that has led to this week, Hurd said, and the team is approaching Quince Orchard the same way it did the first week of this season, when it lost 35-7. Hurd is sticking to what got him here, but his team isn’t the same.
“Young kids are starting to play older. We’re still an extremely young ballclub,” Hurd said. “Some of these younger kids are starting to turn the corner. Some of these juniors are starting to look like seniors.”
With Paint Branch’s 35-34 win over Gaithersburg on Saturday, the Panthers locked up the top seed and homefield advantage throughout the Maryland 4A North playoffs. But the win also locked up a meeting with Sherwood for the second time in the three weeks.
The Panthers (9-1) will host the Warriors (7-3) Friday night, which will come 14 days after Paint Branch won the same matchup to secure the Montgomery 4A East title. That pushed the Warriors to the brink of playoff elimination, but Sherwood earned a berth last weekend after taking down Kennedy,20-6. It will be the seventh time in eight years that the Warriors make a playoff appearance, and the postseason debut for first-year coach Chris Grier.
Senior running back Elijah Spottswood rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Cavaliers, and he is now just 49 yards shy of 1,000 for the season. It has been the most productive campaign of Spottswood’s young football career. Aside from rushing for 951 yards and 14 touchdowns, he has four interceptions and has taken a punt and kick return back for a touchdown.
Those numbers come just months after he suffered an ACL tear on April 6, when he was injured while competing at a football camp at Gallaudet. Spottswood is a diabetic, “so I know when things aren’t right,” Spottswood said of his body. With that in mind, he knew he was ready to come back and play in late August despite being just five months removed from a knee surgery, he said.
“It’s been difficult in some aspects. Some times a pop here and there will scare me and I’ll have to deal with that for the next week,” Spottswood said. “It’s really been a blessing to come back as quick as I have and be able to play to the best of my ability and do what i can for my team.”
No team from the Montgomery 4A South division was able to reach the 2013 postseason.
Whitman (7-3) won the division, but the Vikings did not receive the necessary help to get in the state playoffs. It was still Whitman’s best year since 2010, when the Vikings went 7-3 in the regular season but lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Whitman finished behind Clarksburg (7-3) for fourth place in the state’s 4A West Region. The Coyotes beat Richard Montgomery on Friday to clinch the region’s final postseason spot even after Whitman won its season finale, 17-13 against Blair.
Whitman senior Zac Morton concluded his high school career with school records in single-season rushing yards (1,498) and career rushing yards (2,973).
The Vikings’ win over Blair capped a four-game winning streak after a 21-6 loss to Damascus on Oct. 14 left them at 3-3 after six games.
“We did feel we had our backs against the wall,” Whitman Coach Jim Kuhn said. “We felt we had to win to get in and keep winning each game. Each week we’ve been up for the challenge and the task that’s been in front of us.”
Seneca Valley began its season with a lot of youth on both sides of the ball.
It ended just outside the top four of the 3A West standings, finishing the season in fifth place. At the season’s beginning, the Screaming Eagles (7-3) decided to start freshman running back Adrian Feliz-Platt and move toward a spread offense to cater to the team’s strengths. Over the final three games, senior quarterback Calvin Reighard threw for 563 yards and five touchdowns.
Seneca Valley is missing out on the postseason for the first time since 2009, but it came close to sneaking in.
In their three losses, the Screaming Eagles lost by a combined 16 points, with each game decided by seven points or fewer. All three schools that defeated Seneca Valley — Northwest, Sherwood and Damascus — reached the playoffs.
Rockville’s Chuck Reese and Wootton’s Sam Ellis had the top two passing yardage totals in the area. Reese finished with 2,932 yards and 37 touchdowns, while Ellis ended the year with 2,870 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Diggs caught an area-best 77 passes for 1,102 yards and 11 touchdowns (13 total). Woods had 66 receptions for 992 yards and seven touchdowns.