Both Maryland 4A West Region semifinal games are rematches of tight regular season contests. Here's a look at the key factors in each game.
Richard Montgomery (7-3) at Damascus (9-1)
Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Regular Season Result: Damascus 13, Richard Montgomery 7 (2 OT), Sept. 17 and 18
The teams started their game on a Friday night, but with eight seconds remaining and the score tied at 0-0, lightning suspended play. The teams returned the following night, went to overtime, and defending Maryland 4A champion Damascus prevailed, 13-7 in double overtime.
* Since Then: Damascus has gone 6-1, including a hard-fought 26-20 victory over Quince Orchard, to secure the top seed in the Maryland 4A West Region. The Hornets' lone stumble came against Northwest, 27-24.
After the loss to Damascus, Richard Montgomery lost the following week to Sherwood to fall to 1-3 and seemingly out of the playoff picture. But the Rockets rebounded, won six games in a row and secured the final spot in the Maryland 4A West Region.
"At that point [after the loss to Sherwood], we had gone 1-9 [in the 2003 season] and 1-3," Richard Montgomery Coach Mike Bonavia said. "It was a matter of the guys believing. One false step along the way, and this wouldn't have happened."
* This Time: Richard Montgomery is one of the area's hottest teams and should have plenty of confidence. The Rockets' workhorse -- senior running back Steve Weedon (179 rushes, 1,667 yards, 13 TDs) -- sat out last week's 14-7 victory over Blair with the flu but should be back at full strength this week. He is the key to the Rockets' attack and will need to have a big game on both offense and defense.
In four playoff victories en route to last year's Maryland 4A title, Reidy carried the ball 150 times for 751 yards. While the Hornets have weapons on offense other than Reidy (258 carries, 1,222 yards, 12 rushing TDs this season), their success again will hinge on Reidy's effectiveness.
"We know Reidy's going to get the ball 40 times," Bonavia said.
This is the Rockets' second playoff appearance since 1985 (the other came in 2001), while the Hornets are making their seventh consecutive trip to the postseason.
Quince Orchard (8-2)
at Churchill (9-1)
Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Regular Season Result: Quince Orchard 22, Churchill 6, Sept. 10
The Bulldogs went up 6-0 in the first quarter but did not score again. Quince Orchard got two touchdowns from senior running back Cameron George to take a 15-6 lead, then put the game away with a huge defensive play. Junior defensive end Bani Gbadyu forced a fumble with a quarterback sack, and senior Brendan Willard scooped up the ball and raced 46 yards for a score. It was one of six turnovers forced by the Cougars, including two interceptions by senior Jemayne Nowlin.
Since Then: Churchill has not lost. The Bulldogs, in fact, have dominated, outscoring opponents 252-42 and winning their last six games by an average of 30.3 points. Nick Scrivens took over as starting quarterback after the Quince Orchard game, and the senior, a soccer player who is playing on the football team for the first time, has energized the offense. In the last five games, Scrivens has completed 54 of 91 pass attempts for 954 yards, 14 TDs and no interceptions.
Quince Orchard, meanwhile, has gone 6-2 since it beat Churchill. The Cougars' two losses came by a combined 13 points to defending No. 4 Damascus and No. 14 Northwest, teams with a combined record of 18-2.
This Time: Few teams are hotter than the Bulldogs, who have averaged 35 points per game and allowed just 4.7 during the last six weeks. While Churchill has been winning games by blowouts in recent weeks, Quince Orchard has been in several close games. In addition to the two losses, the Cougars edged Whitman, 14-7, and needed a late drive to beat Gaithersburg, 26-20. Experience in close games could give Quince Orchard an advantage if tomorrow's game comes down to the final few minutes.
This is Churchill's first playoff appearance since 1995, and it is Quince Orchard's first playoff appearance since 1993.