Just prior to last night's game in Germantown, Northwest's cheerleaders unveiled a banner calling this "The season for the big payback."
The Jaguars then settled another score, as senior wide receiver-defensive back French Pope scored two touchdowns and intercepted two passes in the first quarter to lead Northwest to a 40-6 victory over Poolesville before a homecoming crowd of approximately 3,000. The win avenged a 46-8 defeat to the Indians (2-6) last season.
Northwest (7-1), which began the evening eighth in the Maryland 2A playoff race, won its third straight since losing to top-ranked Seneca Valley.
"French was outstanding today," Northwest Coach Randy Trivers said. "He's Mr. Everything. He could play offensive tackle if we needed him to play offensive tackle."
Pope measures 5 feet 6 and weighs 165 pounds.
Last night, Poolesville defenders were dropping all over the field, partly because it was drenched from a first-half rainstorm, but mostly because of Pope's elusiveness. After receiving a short pass over the middle, Pope sidestepped two linebackers and ran 40 yards into the end zone for the game's first score.
"I didn't see them, but I just smelled the end zone because I hadn't scored a touchdown all year," Pope said.
Three plays later, he picked off Poolesville quarterback J.M. Ascienzo and sprinted 33 yards down the left sideline to give the Jaguars a 14-0 lead. "We had a nice rush by the defensive line," Pope said. "I came in and saw the ball the whole way. It was there for the taking and I put it in."
Pope intercepted Ascienzo again on Poolesville's next offensive play, and two plays later quarterback Brian Shaw (8 of 9, 155 yards, 4 touchdowns) found Anwar Phillips for a 15-yard touchdown to make it 21-0. Pope also had a spectacular 54-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter, and an interception in the third quarter nullified by penalties.
"We've been working for this since November," Pope said. "It's all about offseason conditioning. We stayed together all year and everybody has been committed."
Two more touchdown passes to Phillips and tight end George Hackey and a 34-yard touchdown run by Raymond Custis made it 40-0 at halftime. Custis rushed for 122 yards on 12 carries and has rushed for 1,006 yards this season. Shaw has passed for 1,006 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"Balance has been our strength all year," Trivers said. "That showed tonight."
Northwest, a second-year school, is fast becoming Germantown's second football powerhouse. Located two miles from Seneca Valley, the Jaguars returned their entire team from last year and now have defeated four teams--Einstein, Rockville, Walter Johnson and Poolesville--they lost to last season.
CAPTION: Even though this 54-yard punt return for TD was nullified, Jaguars' French Pope (33) still found end zone twice.