When Gaithersburg Coach Kreg Kephart first took a look at his team's schedule before the start of this season, he found six games that the Trojans should win -- not gimmes, he said, but certainly matchups that favor a playoff-caliber team.
Kephart also circled four games against Montgomery County's elite that would likely prove much more difficult. To make the playoffs, Kephart said, he thought they would have to win two of those four games.
It turns out Kephart was wrong. The Trojans need to win just one.
"I figured we had to win two of these four and I figured we would win two of them," Kephart said.
With two games remaining, the Trojans (6-2) are 6-0 in the should-wins and 0-2 in the rest. If Gaithersburg hopes to avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight season, it will have to win one of its two remaining games -- no easy task.
Gaithersburg hosts No. 17 Quince Orchard tomorrow night and a win against the Cougars (7-1) could lock up a postseason berth for the Trojans. As would a win against No. 10 Sherwood (7-1) in the Trojans' regular season finale. As with Quince Orchard, the Warriors' only defeat of the season came against top-ranked Damascus (8-0).
"We've got to win," Kephart said. "We've got to win at least one of them. I feel good. We've been playing well. I certainly wish we were playing easier opponents. [Quince Orchard and Sherwood] each lost to Damascus and no one else. They beat everyone else and Damascus seems to be the cream of the crop."
Gaithersburg won by a combined 207-45 in six games against Whitman, Wootton, Magruder, Churchill, Walter Johnson and Watkins Mill. However they fell short against Northwest, 25-16, and Seneca Valley, 29-21.
The top four teams in the Maryland 4A West advance to the region playoffs. The Trojans are currently third in the region with 64 points. (Teams receive eights point for every victory against a 4A team and seven points for a win against a 3A team. Teams also receive one bonus point for defeated opponents' victories). Richard Montgomery (6-2) sits in fourth place with 60 points. Northwest (5-3) is currently the odd team out with 57 points, followed by Blair (48) and Magruder (47). Sherwood is one of three Montgomery County teams in the 4A North and is guaranteed a playoff berth.
Richard Montgomery hosts Springbrook Saturday night before closing out the season at Northwest. Northwest plays at Damascus tomorrow night.
Gaithersburg would earn a postseason berth with a victory against Quince Orchard or Sherwood because of the bonus points they would receive. However if the Trojans were to lose twice, it would leave the door open for both Northwest and Richard Montgomery -- and possibly Blair or Magruder -- to earn the final two spots.
Damascus is on pace to enter the postseason as the region's top seed for the third consecutive season.
Damascus Coach Dan Makosy said the team has no plans to coast in the final two weeks against Northwest -- the only team to knock off the Swarmin' Hornets during last year's regular season -- and Blair (5-3).
"The years we do well in the playoffs are the years we play tough competition," Makosy said. "I like each week being tougher and tougher, it gets you ready for the final ride of the season."