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Weekend walk-through: Maryland

Cougar Coach Dave Mencarini says there's 'little margin for error.'
Cougar Coach Dave Mencarini says there's 'little margin for error.' (Preston Keres)

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Who: No. 4 Damascus (1-0) at No. 6 Quince Orchard (1-0)

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When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.

Data: Either one of these teams could be holding the Maryland 3A championship trophy at M&T Bank Stadium in December, yet this is the fourth straight year they've met in the first three weeks of the season.

That's not necessarily a bad thing, according to Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini.

"It's sometimes better to get a big game out of the way early," he said. "It gives you a good idea of where you are."

And unquestionably, Quince Orchard has been a notch above Damascus the past three years. Prior to their 2006 regular season meeting, which Damascus led 28-7 late in the third quarter, the Hornets had never lost to Quince Orchard. Not only did the Cougars come back and win that game, 35-28, as well as a first-round playoff matchup, 54-21, six weeks later, they have not lost to the Damascus since. In fact, since falling behind 28-7 in that 2006 game, Quince Orchard has outscored the Hornets by a combined 189-37 in a little more than 17 quarters.

And since the past three regular season meetings have all occurred before the first day of fall, the Cougars' dominance has set the tone for both teams' seasons - Quince Orchard, confident and comfortable en route to five consecutive 10-victory campaigns, while Damascus is forced to play with a little more sense of urgency the rest of the season.

The Hornets have made the playoffs a Maryland-record 12 consecutive seasons, but have gone into the final week each of the past two years needing a victory to solidify a spot in the super-competitive 3A West Region, which includes powers Linganore and Seneca Valley, as well as Quince Orchard and rising programs like Clarksburg and Tuscarora.

"It's not the end of the world if you lose," Mencarini said, "but there's very little margin for error in the 3A West."

The teams have turned their competition toward a good cause this week. Mencarini's oldest daughter, eight-year-old Courtney, had juvenile diabetes diagnosed in April, and both schools have been involved in a week-long fund-raising competition. Each school is selling t-shirts emblazoned with images of both teams' helmets and the phrase "The Battle For A Cure." All proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Around the area

Coming off its thrilling 47-41 come-from-behind victory over Rockville - its fourth straight dating from last season - Walter Johnson will try to go to 2-0 at Bethesda rival Whitman. Before this current streak started with the Wildcats' eighth game last season, it took them 63 games to earn four victories. Whitman, meantime, looked very strong in its 35-7 victory over Northwest last week. . . . Parkdale opened the season with a bang, beating High Point, 47-6, as senior quarterback Bejoe Mundit passed for 275 yards and five touchdowns. But that was against High Point, which has the Washington area's longest losing streak at 22 games. Saturday, the Panthers face the Maryland 4A South Region two-time defending champions. And after a 21-14 loss to Suitland in the season opener, Wise can hardly afford a misstep against a team it beat 48-0 last season.

- Josh Barr, Alan Goldenbach, Jason Mackey and Greg Schimmel


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