Reighard’s return lifts Seneca Valley; Quince Orchard defense continues to dominate

Jonathan Newton/THE WASHINGTON POST - Seneca Valley quarterback Calvin Reighard (5), shown during an Oct. 25 loss at Damascus, returned from a concussion to spark the Screamin’ Eagles to victory against North Hagerstown.

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After practicing sparingly last week coming back from a concussion, Seneca Valley junior quarterback Calvin Reighard began Friday’s Maryland 3A West semifinal against North Hagerstown on the sideline. Coach Fred Kim had full clearance to use Reighard in the team’s playoff opener but wanted to give backup Maurice Gaines the first chance to run the offense.

When the Screamin’ Eagles drove inside the North Hagerstown 20-yard line on two of their first three drives and came away without any points, Reighard got the call and led the team to a 12-7 win over the Hubs.

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Damascus wide receiver Jalen Christian has multiple offers as a high school sophomore.

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Reighard passed for 145 yards and rushed for a fourth-quarter touchdown for Seneca Valley, which will host Urbana in Friday’s region final. The Hawks upset top-seeded Damascus, 24-23, in overtime.

“It opened things up once we got Calvin back in there,” Kim said. “We were able to go back to our offense, doing the things that have worked for us all season.”

Seneca Valley (10-1) hadn’t allowed much defensively until North Hagerstown hit for a 73-yard touchdown pass in the middle of the fourth quarter to cut its deficit to one score. The Hubs drove into Screamin’ Eagles territory on their final possession, but senior Jamir Wilson jumped a curl route for an interception, sealing the victory.

Senior James Jones-Williams, Seneca Valley’s leading rusher, missed last week’s win over Watkins Mill with a hamstring injury and did not see action against North Hagerstown until playing a few snaps at linebacker on the team’s final defensive drive.

“They had us on the ropes, there’s no doubt about that,” Kim said. “But we’ve been in those situations before. When they were driving, it didn’t affect our kids at all. They rose to the challenge.” ...

After a perfect regular season, top-seeded Damascus saw its playoff run end abruptly Friday against Urbana. The Swarmin’ Hornets (10-1) rallied from a 16-point hole to force overtime and then scored first in the extra period on senior Caleb Baisden’s 10-yard run, but the Hawks answered back with a touchdown.

Rather than try for the extra point to extend the game, the visitors converted the game-winning two-point conversion on a play action pass play from sophomore Donovan Pannell to senior Brendan Wharton. It is the second straight year the top seed in the region has lost its first playoff game as Seneca Valley fell to eventual state runner-up Thomas Johnson last fall.

Urbana (8-3) will now visit the Screamin’ Eagles in a matchup that Fred Kim called “our ultimate nightmare” because of its family ties.

Kim’s son, J.P., is a sophomore at Urbana who played linebacker and fullback for the Ijamsville school’s junior varsity squad this season. J.P. Kim was called up to varsity for the playoffs. Seneca Valley offensive coordinator Bob Plante’s son Brandon, a junior, plays running back and cornerback for the Hawks.

Cougars’ defense continues to dominate

Quince Orchard’s defense, which gave up just 47 points during the regular season, made another statement in Friday night’s 4A West semifinal win over Bethesda-Chevy Chase. The Cougars held the Barons’ talented run game in check in the 55-13 win, and Clay Shelton-Jones returned an interception 17 yards for a touchdown to blow open a 49-6 halftime lead.

The No. 9 Cougars (10-1) have outscored opponents 295-29 in the past six weeks, a testament not only to the development of an offense led by backup quarterback Matt Choi (213 yards of total offense) and running back Tyrell Williams (92 yards rushing and three touchdowns), but also to a defense that has lived up to its reputation as one of the state’s best.

“I think the other night has been a culmination of what has been occurring the last five or six weeks,” Quince Orchard head coach Dave Mencarini said. “They have been unbelievable…my concern going into (next week’s game against Northwest) is that we haven’t played four quarters of football in a few weeks. And we’re going to have to play four quarters of football to beat a good Northwest team. Obviously I’m very concerned.”

Northwest earned its rematch with Quince Orchard with Friday’s 34-7 win over Churchill. Senior Quarterback Matty Callahan threw for 304 yards and one touchdown and ran for another while his precision on several third and fourth-down conversions in the first half kept Churchill’s defense on the field for long stretches. Replicating that success won’t come easy against a Quince Orchard team that held Callahan to 22-of-43 passing in a 24-10 win over the Jaguars in September. Callahan did account for 224 yards and a touchdown in that game, but Northwest was never in a position to win.

“You look at what he’s done over the course of this season, and his career, the guy doesn’t have to many bad games,” Mencarini said of Callahan. “One, you keep him off the field. And two, you mix up the looks that you give him.”

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