But when the No. 16 Screaming Eagles meet third-ranked Quince Orchard Friday evening in a Montgomery nonleague game, Herbert will be charged with the toughest assignment of his career. In the wake of a revamped offense that has been crippled by injuries at key skill positions, the Cougars have evolved with a unique two quarterback system – one that uses junior Tobin Pagley as a classic passer and wide receiver Matt Choi as a “Wildcat” formation runner. Choi, who led the team in rushing with 91 yards in last week’s win over Northwest, is also a former quarterback in the program and will test Seneca Valley’s secondary, too.
“I’m going to have to be more focused. I’m going to have to be paying attention, allowing the rest of the defense to know what’s going on on the field,” Herbert said. “QO is a real fast team. Definitely going to have to be on my toes.”
Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim, who served as the head coach at Quince Orchard during the 2002 season, said the Cougars “probably have the best defense in the state of Maryland, bar none.”
But his defense at Seneca Valley has played inspired football in four wins, and has come up with pivotal stops in the fourth quarter in victories over Northwest and Churchill.
Herbert doesn’t want his unit to buy into the notion that Seneca Valley is the “other” defense in this highly touted matchup. Limiting Pagley and Choi will be crucial come Friday – and thinking about outdueling Quince Orchard’s defense is a potentially costly mistake.
“I would argue that they’re one one of the best offenses in the state,” Herbert said. “I think it is going to have to come down to what defense is going to show up for the night. I hope our defense is prepared to fulfill that.”
Game to watch: No. 15 Damascus (4-0) at Sherwood (3-1), Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Damascus has rolled through the first month of the season, outscoring its opponents, 148-14, in four wins. That success has been a windfall for the team’s backups as most of the Hornet starters have played only a few fourth-quarter snaps all season. Some of the squad’s top playmakers have spent more time on the sideline after halftime than on the field to this point.
Fifteenth-ranked Damascus (4-0) expects its toughest test to date on Friday with a Montgomery nonleague trip to Sherwood (3-1). Coach Eric Wallich has done his best to prepare his team for a full 48-minute game, but in reality, the Hornets — who rely on several two-way starters — haven’t experienced one yet this season.
“You never really know how guys are going to respond,” Wallich said. “You start to wonder a little bit about cramping and things like that.”
Damascus has built those large leads by showcasing its dangerous stable of skill position players. Senior Zach Bradshaw (Virginia) and sophomore Jalen Christian — both wide receivers who also start on defense — have three total touchdowns apiece this season with each of those scoring plays covering more than 20 yards.