Northwest faces Quince Orchard this week in the first of two consecutive neighborhood battles for the Jaguars. Next week, Northwest meets Germantown rival Seneca Valley. Meanwhile, Sherwood and Blake meet in what amounts to a playoff game for two teams with postseason aspirations.
No. 2 Northwest (7-0)
at Quince Orchard (6-1)
Tomorrow, 6:30 p.m.
Lots of playoff points will be at stake here. A victory by second-ranked Northwest would give the Jaguars the inside track on home field advantage in the Maryland 3A West Region playoffs. A victory by Quince Orchard would go a long way toward securing the Cougars' first trip to the playoffs since 1993.
The game features a matchup of one of the area's best offenses (Northwest's) and one of the area's top defenses (Quince Orchard's). The Jaguars have scored 40 or more points in all but two games this season, and in those games they scored 39 and 27, respectively. Northwest does it with balance. Senior running back Tony Nelson has rushed for 792 yards and 13 touchdowns on 88 rushes, and senior quarterback Ike Whitaker has completed 62 of 104 passes for 1,097 yards, 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
He has plenty of targets -- seniors Darren Brownlee (19 catches, 307 yards, five touchdowns), Salim Koroma (17-280, four) and Alphonzo Griffin (11-257, three).
"Their offense presents a lot of different problems," Quince Orchard Coach Dave Mencarini said. "They do so many things from so many different formations, and they execute everything so well. . . . You really have to pick your poison because you can't stop everything."
The Cougars, meanwhile, have allowed just 67 points this season -- 26 of which came in their only loss, to sixth-ranked Damascus.
"They have some physical guys and some fast guys, and they're going to pose a very, very stiff challenge for us," Northwest Coach Randy Trivers said. "They're probably the fastest [defense] to the ball that I've seen this year. They really get to the ball as a group."
Northwest has won all but one of the teams' five meetings. The Cougars' lone victory came in 2002, when they rallied for a 30-27 victory. Northwest won last year's meeting, 42-21, and racked up 507 yards of total offense in the game.
"They've won a lot of games on fear," Mencarini said. "We respect them, but we're not scared of them."
Blake (5-2) at Sherwood (5-2)
Tomorrow, 6:30 p.m.
Both teams can consider this Montgomery 4A East Division contest a playoff game, because teams with three losses likely will miss the Maryland 4A West Region postseason.
Sherwood (5-2, 3-1) had its three-game winning streak snapped last week by Damascus, 41-21. But Coach Al Thomas's Warriors stuck with the defending Maryland 4A champions until late in the fourth quarter.
"Coach Thomas plays Sherwood down like they're nothing, but they're a very good team," Damascus Coach Dan Makosy said. "They execute very well, they don't make many mistakes out there."
Meantime, Blake (5-2, 3-2) rebounded from a loss to Richard Montgomery with a 35-12 victory over Walter Johnson last week. The Bengals' defense, which has allowed just 34 points in its five victories, will be tested by the Warriors' offense, which gained 351 yards against Damascus last week. Sophomore quarterback Deontay Twyman completed 20 of 35 passes for 250 yards, while running back Kenneth Riley had 114 yards on 27 carries.
The Warriors defeated Blake last season, 27-9.
Richard Montgomery (4-3)
at Wheaton (4-3)
Tomorrow, 6:30 p.m.
Two teams with flickering postseason hopes face off. Even finishing the season with three consecutive wins does not guarantee a playoff berth for either team, so neither can afford a loss.
After losing three of its first four games -- to unbeaten and second-ranked Northwest, sixth-ranked Damascus (6-1) and Sherwood (5-2) -- Richard Montgomery has won three straight games. The Rockets have ridden on the shoulders of senior running back Steve Weedon, who has rushed for 1,278 yards and nine touchdowns on 140 carries.
Wheaton, meanwhile, has won three of its last four games.