Game to Watch: Northwest (1-0) at No. 20 Seneca Valley (1-0), Friday 6:30 p.m.
Nearly 23 years after his playing career at Gaithersburg ended, Mike Neubeiser says he can recount almost every play from his final game against rival Seneca Valley — a 33-7 Trojan victory on Nov. 3, 1989.
Neubeiser, a former All-Met linebacker, has enjoyed his share of wins over the Screaming Eagles in the years since as an assistant at several Montgomery County public schools. But in his second season leading Northwest, Seneca Valley’s new chief rival, Neubeiser enters Friday’s Battle for Germantown seeking his first win against the county power as a head coach.
“For me, there’s no other game bigger than Seneca,” said Neubeiser, who was Northwest defensive coordinator for the first six games in the series between schools separated by less than three miles. “I won’t say I hate Seneca, but I strongly dislike them, so it’s a little bit personal for me. . . . You can’t ignore the rivalry. It’s built-in motivation for this week.”
Seneca Valley has held the King’s Trophy for the past five years and leads the all-time series 9-4. But Northwest, which returned 16 starters from last year’s 5-5 team, believes it has the weapons in place for a breakthrough performance this time around.
“You watch them on film, and they have athletes everywhere,” Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim said. “They’re big, they’re strong, they’re fast and well-coached. They’re surging as a program right now.”
The Eagles — who have made the state playoffs 10 of the past 11 seasons — fought off a challenge from Einstein in their opener, scoring four second-half touchdowns in a 35-20 victory. Senior James Jones-Williams is among the county’s top returning running backs.
For the record, Kim, who played at Seneca Valley in the mid-1980s, didn’t like Gaithersburg much back then, either. But he’s seen the Seneca Valley-Northwest matchup blossom into the county’s top backyard rivalry, a contest that annually brings out the biggest crowd of the year.
“It doesn’t take much to get everybody really excited about this game,” Kim said. “All of Germantown will be there. It will be an unbelievable battle.”
Elsewhere in Montgomery
Watkins Mill started its season with a 42-14 win over Poolesville last Friday, but the Wolverines will face a stiffer test this week when it welcomes No. 19 Damascus. The Swarmin’ Hornets scored three touchdowns in their season-opener before their first offensive snap.. . . In the past few seasons, the annual Churchill-Whitman matchup has decided the top team in southern Montgomery County, but the Vikings are young this time around and hoping for a better offensive showing after starting the season with a 15-3 loss to Wootton. The Bulldogs — who came up a field goal short of making the state semifinals last season — pounded Kennedy, 34-0, last week led by a pair of rushing touchdowns from new starting quarterback Jonathan Lee. . . .
Springbrook starting cornerback Baki Akbar and starting running back and linebacker Tyler Stewart were both lost for season in last week’s 14-7 win over Northbrook. Akbar, a junior, broke his wrist returning the opening kickoff. Stewart, also a junior who was one of a few players to start on both sides of the ball, broke his leg in the second quarter. Springbrook meets Gaithersburg Friday. . . .
Paint Branch is on the road the next two weeks against Magruder and Quince Orchard, but in essence, every game is a road game this season for the Panthers. For the third consecutive year, Paint Branch is playing all their home games at either Blair or Sherwood. The construction of the school’s stadium will not be completed until next season. “It’s been kind of wearing, getting on the bus for every single game,” said Coach Mike Nesmith. “It really hurts as far as getting our student body to the games. Once we get our own stadium, we can really pack it with our own kids, and I think we’ll have a great atmosphere.”
Nesmith said he also needs junior quarterback Gaston Cooper to be more sharp in his second varsity start this week against Magruder. Cooper was 11 for 20 with 207 yards and three touchdowns last week against Rockville, but he also threw two interceptions and missed on some throws. “He has the ability to be a special player,” said Nesmith. “We’re pleased with his progression, but we need more from him if we’re going to be the team we want to be.”
Around Prince George’s
After scrambling to fill a last-minute hole in their schedule, Surrattsville will host D.C. charter school Maya Angelou on Saturday at 2 p.m. The Hornets had hoped to play at Wilson on Friday, but the game had to be cancelled because of a scheduling mix-up.
Coach Robert Harris said Surrattsville (1-0) expected to play Wilson (1-1) in the second week of the season like it did last fall, but the Tigers — who are set to host No. 17 St. John’s on Saturday — asked for the game to be on Sept. 21 when the Hornets were already contracted to play Colonel Richardson High of Federalsburg, Md.
Harris said plans to play Maya Angelou were just finalized last week, and his team heads into the game without the benefit of any film preparation or prior knowledge about Maya Angelou.
“It’s a little different,” Harris said. “We’re trying to prepare our offensive line for all the different defenses they might see. Defensively, we’ll just keep sending people at them and hope to control the game that way.”
Last fall, Surrattsville lost to Wilson, 14-12, and Harris said he hopes to get the game back on his team’s schedule next year. A 1991 Carroll graduate, Harris enjoyed the matchup because last season’s Tigers featured the children of some of his former classmates. . . . After its season-opening 35-19 win at Potomac (Md.), Gwynn Park has another league matchup on the road when it travels to Friendly on Friday night. The Patriots beat defending Maryland 3A runner-up Thomas Johnson, 20-13, in their opener, taking the lead for good on a 75-yard touchdown run by junior Ravon Davis in the third quarter.
Around the SMAC
If Week 1 was any indication, Huntingtown is doing fine after losing the only head coach it ever had during the offseason.
Veteran assistant Brendan Galligan stepped in to replace his mentor Jerry Franks, who left after three straight state tournament appearances to coach St. Mary’s Ryken, and the Hurricanes (1-0) rolled to a 42-0 win over Great Mills (0-1) in Galligan’s head coaching debut.
“I was surprisingly calm,” Galligan said. “Our job as a coaching staff is to get our guys as prepared to play as we possibly can. No coach has ever made a catch or made a tackle on a Friday night.”
Under Galligan, who played for Franks at Calvert and was an assistant on his staff since Huntingtown opened in 2004, the Hurricanes stress the same grinding ground attack on offense and a hawkish defense that emphasizes forcing turnovers.
Senior running back Carl Riffe ran for 110 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, while linebackers Chris Lobas and Bobby Milie and lineman Dalonte Holland all recovered fumbles and linebacker Josh Woodburn grabbed an interception.
This Friday, Huntingtown faces Chopticon (0-1), whom they beat in the Maryland 3A South semifinal last season.
The Braves return only four starters from that 7-4 playoff squad, but maintain a physical style that could give Huntingtown trouble.
“They’re still a dangerous team,” Galligan said. “We know that whenever you play them you’re going to get bruised up.