Weekend walk-through: Maryland

By Josh Barr, Alan Goldenbach, Jason Mackey and Greg Schimmel
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, September 23, 2010; 8:10 PM

No. 17 Seneca Valley (3-0) at No. 4 Damascus (3-0), Friday, 6:30 p.m.

This is familiar territory for Seneca Valley and Damascus, northern Montgomery County's two most dominant programs, combining for 13 state titles since 1992. Both are off to strong starts, outscoring their opponents by at least 20 points per game, and each holds title aspirations.

That wasn't necessarily the case last year. After Seneca won last year's game, 16-15, in overtime, both teams stood at an uncharacteristic 2-2. Damascus ultimately won its final six games to earn its 12th consecutive playoff berth; Seneca wound up missing the postseason for just the second time in 20 years.

Just because both teams look strong doesn't mean they know they are headed for an 11th game this season. With both competing in the Maryland 3A West Region - arguably the state's toughest - only a 10-0 regular season will allow the teams to relax. The region houses other typical powers like Quince Orchard and Linganore, as well as Clarksburg and Tuscarora, which both draw from deep talent pools.

"In the 3A west, there's such little room for error," Damascus Coach Eric Wallich said. "You can be an 8-2 team and still miss the playoffs. And even if you do [make the playoffs] you still have to get past a team like Seneca Valley again."

Both teams are noticeably more talented than a year ago, which should make for a terrific game. Damascus senior quarterback Connor Frazier showed in a 27-23 victory over Quince Orchard on Sept. 10, when he threw for 205 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 99 yards and another score. He should have top target, senior wide receiver Brandon Phelps, back in the lineup after missing last week with a strained hip flexor.

Seneca, meantime, expected Sherwood senior transfer Cyrus Britt to carry its rushing attack. Britt, though, tore knee ligaments over the summer and is out. No problem for the Eagles; senior Eddie Cunningham has rushed for 539 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Junior quarterback Tanner Vallely made his first start last week and completed 9 of 14 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-21 victory over Einstein.

Around Montgomery

Springbrook (3-0) will try to win its fourth straight game for the first time since 2006, when the Blue Devils host Blair (1-2) Friday. Senior Devon Pestano has rushed for 556 yards and five touchdowns in the three games, including 213 yards and three scores in last week's 32-7 victory over Wootton … In order for Bethesda-Chevy Chase to move to 4-0, the Barons will have to beat Whitman (2-1), which they haven't done since a 20-19 victory in 1999. Since then, the Vikings have topped B-CC 10 consecutive times by an average of 24 points. … Watkins Mill, which hasn't won more than four games in a season since going 5-4 in 2002, can move to 4-0 with a victory at home Friday over Clarksburg … No. 14 Sherwood hasn't lost a September game since a 3-0 loss to Whitman on Sept. 18, 2004. The Warriors can close out their sixth straight perfect September Friday at Magruder.

Prince George's game to watch: Eleanor Roosevelt (3-0, 3-0) at Wise (2-1, 2-1), Saturday, 2

The Raiders have been the Washington area's most dominant team in the season's first month, racking up three shutouts and averaging 46.6 points of offense .

While impressive, however, those victories have come against three teams that have yet to win. However, Roosevelt Coach Tom Green thinks there is another reason for his team's success. Through three games, the Raiders have lost just two fumbles and quarterback Shawn Petty has not thrown an interception.

"Last year, we averaged four turnovers a game," Green said. "We had seven against Bowie, five against Suitland, five against [C.H.] Flowers and four against Wise in the playoffs.

"If Shawn makes good decisions, I think we'll be in pretty good shape. All of our skill guys can make big plays. We just need him to distribute the ball and not turn the ball over."

Wise graduated most of the players from last season's squad that won a second consecutive Maryland 4A South Region title. Running back Uriah Bethea has rushed for 299 yards and six touchdowns in the Pumas' first three games, but he will be missing two key blockers on Saturday. Fullback Kevin Staton and tight end Victor Tabbs were ejected from last week's 27-6 victory over Bladensburg and must sit out against Roosevelt.

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