Seneca Valley overcomes injuries to end Watkins Mill’s playoff hopes; Jordan Larsen leads Sherwood
By Eric Detweiler and Roman Stubbs,
Seneca Valley figured to need a slightly revised game plan on Friday against Watkins Mill with senior running back James Jones-Williams on the sideline in street clothes due to a hamstring injury. Most of the team’s preparations for the Wolverines quickly became irrelevant when junior quarterback Calvin Reighard took a helmet-to-helmet hit on a second-quarter scramble and left with a concussion.
Using senior wide receiver Travis Arthur at quarterback, the Screamin’ Eagles made it work, holding on for a 20-14 win that eliminated Watkins Mill from playoff contention. After Reighard left, they didn’t attempt another pass the rest of the night, but junior Kevin Joppy finished with 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns on a career-high 31 carries to deliver the victory.
“Without those guys, 90 percent of our offense was gone,” Seneca Valley Coach Fred Kim said. “We had to do what we could. . . . They put 11 guys in the box because they knew what we were gonna do. We just strapped it on and ran it with Joppy.”
At 5-foot-9, 165 pounds, Joppy doesn’t have the ideal frame to pound the line of scrimmage and with Jones-Williams in the offense, Joppy generally plays a hybrid running back/wide receiver role.
On Friday against the Wolverines (7-3), Joppy showed he could handle the heavy workload. He provided the game’s final two touchdowns, putting the Eagles (9-1) ahead for good on a four-yard scoring run with about six minutes left in the third quarter. Because of injuries in the secondary, Joppy also played most of the team’s defensive snaps, too.
With the win, Seneca Valley clinched the No. 2 seed behind Damascus in the Maryland 3A West and a home game against North Hagerstown to kickoff the postseason. Kim said he expected Reighard to be cleared to practice on Monday and start the playoff game, while Jones-Williams should also be ready to play against North Hagerstown.
In a win or go home scenario, Watkins Mill spent the night scrambling offensively as well after senior quarterback Patrick Schlosser aggravated a shoulder injury on his team’s first series.
Four different players — all running backs and wide receivers — took snaps as part of a quarterback by committee arrangement. Junior Quinton Schaired, the team’s leading rusher this season, completed five of nine passes for 39 yards.
The Wolverines entered the game on a six-game winning streak and holding the fourth spot in the competitive region. They tumbled to seventh with the loss, missing out on their first playoff berth since 1999.
“We called that our playoff game,” Watkins Mill Coach Kevin Watson said. “It had that feeling — you could tell. The kids played their butts off. The coaches coached their butts off with all the changes they had to make. It was a good game.” . . .
Already assured of its first playoff berth since 2005, Poolesville (7-3) closed the regular season with a 28-7 win over Rockville. Senior running back Nikolay Henze carried the ball 31 times for 217 rushing yards and three touchdowns. It was the fourth time this season Henze has recorded at least 30 touches in a game. The Falcons will start the Maryland 2A West playoffs at Walkersville Friday.
Sherwood’s Larsen shows he’s grown up
Sherwood’s Jordan Larsen, although a senior, had never been asked to bail his team out with a fourth quarter drive until Friday night against Churchill. Tied at 10 midway through the final period, not only was the region’s No. 2 seed hanging in the balance, but so was the judgment on just how much Larsen had matured under center this fall.
Larsen engineered the best drive of his life, spanning 85 yards and capped off by Elijah Spottswood’s two-yard touchdown run that gave the Warriors the win. Larsen completed four of five passes in the fourth quarter for 109 yards, on a night when he completed just six passes overall.
“It was the first time I’ve ever needed to pull out a game in the fourth quarter. I had been in this situation last year in the Paint Branch game, but we were behind though. And we couldn’t do it. Our offense couldn’t pull it together,” said Larsen. “This time, we were able to do it.”
The difference between his junior and senior seasons have been dramatic for Larsen, who has thrown for over 300 yards the last two weeks after slogging through somewhat of a midseason slump. His numbers have been solidly consistent since the season opener, though, when he completed just seven passes and had two interceptions against Quince Orchard. In an offense dominated by the run, Larsen has six 100-yard passing games this season, with eight touchdowns and an additional five rushing scores. His best performance came two weeks ago in a 35-28 win over Northwest, when he threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns.
Sherwood has won five straight heading into Friday’s first-round playoff game against No. 3 Catonsville (7-3). The Warriors have outscored their last five opponents, 175-41, and much of it has been attributed to the running game behind Spottswood and Moses Vines, the latter of whom has rushed for 952 yards and 17 touchdowns this season.
The passing game has become a viable threat as the weeks have passed, and the coaching staff has designed a passing system that makes Larsen more comfortable. Bonavia said that his mechanics and understanding of coverages has gotten much better since the season started. But Larsen said that more than anything, when Bonavia told him to “calm down” right before the crucial fourth quarter drive last week against Churchill, that was when he knew he had arrived as Sherwood’s quarterback.
“They’ve shown they have confidence in me,” said Larsen. “It calms me down. It just lets me go out and execute.”