Since narrowly beating Springbrook by eight points in its season opener, Paint Branch has won four straight games going away, pounding opponents into submission the last month. The Panthers have increased their point total in each week during that stretch (scoring 42, 43, 48 and 54, respectively), pitched two shutouts and allowed just 19 points — with only 12 given up by the defense.
Paint Branch (5-0) is looking to keep the run going this weekend against a strong Northwest team, that has mirrored the Panthers’ productivity in four of five games this fall. The Jaguars (4-1) are fresh off a 50-0 win over Blake and have combined to outscore opponents 165-26 in their victories this season. Northwest is the most proven team Paint Branch has met to this point in the season, Panthers wide receiver Javonn Curry said.
“That’s the best team. . . that we’ve faced, that we’re going to face, right now,” Curry said. “They have athletes on their team, so that makes them a good team. They’re well coached.”
Curry has enjoyed a breakout senior year, catching 24 balls (he caught 25 all of last season) for 364 yards and six touchdowns through the first five games, including six catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 54-7 win over Einstein. He has been one of the primary benefactors of a stellar start by quarterback Gaston Cooper, who is one of Montgomery County’s most productive quarterbacks. Cooper leads the team in both rushing and passing, and his numbers have steadily gone up the last three weeks. The 6-foot, 180-pound signal-caller has has thrown for 149, 241 and 301 yards in those three wins respectively, and has 13 passing touchdowns to go along with nine rushing scores.
Northwest has a similair athlete in Joshua Gills, who plays quarterback, running back, slot receiever and cornerback for the Jaguars, and who through the first four games this season has recorded over 400 yards of total offense in passing, rushing and recieiving, with seven touchdowns.
With the win over Blake, Northwest rebounded after a 26-6 loss to Gaithersburg the week prior. But the Jaguars already count quality wins over Seneca Valley and Richard Montgomery, and are looking for a third this weekend against an explosive Paint Branch sqaud that hasn’t been tested in over a month. Containing Cooper and company early on could be the key. In its five games this season, Paint Branch is averaging 30.6 points in the first half — including 16 points in the first quarter. Last week against Einstein, all six of Cooper’s touchdowns came in the first half, including passes to Curry of 47, 33 and 15.
“The offense we run is very fast paced,” Curry said .“We have athletes on offense that can score the ball. You never know who the ball is going to go to.”
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