Northwest 20, Seneca Valley 0

For three weeks, Northwest senior fullback and defensive end Chris Ropko and his teammates received nothing but bad news. Because of the sniper attacks in the Washington area, practice after practice was moved inside, and the chances of finishing the season became smaller each day.

Ropko, however, insists there was never a moment when his teammates lost focus. And after the Jaguars' dominating 20-0 victory over No. 11 Seneca Valley last night, it was hard not to believe him.

The Jaguars slogged through their muddy home field for 213 rushing yards and completely bottled up a Seneca Valley team that entered the contest averaging 32.5 points per game.

"When the sniper was loose and we had the layoff, we busted our tails," said Ropko, who plowed his way to two touchdowns. "We were going full tilt, and I'm telling you it paid off tonight."

Northwest, which won its fourth straight, improved to 5-2, including 4-1 in the Montgomery 4A/3A League. The Jaguars, who have shut out their last two opponents, also earned neighborhood bragging rights. Northwest evened the all-time series against its Germantown rival at two and dealt Seneca Valley (5-2, 3-1) its second loss in three games.

Junior running back Travis Jackson led Northwest with a game-high 98 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and senior ChiChi Mansaray added 75 yards on seven carries.

Field position played a key role in the victory. Northwest, which won the opening coin toss but deferred its decision to the second half, kicked off to start the game and then chose to kick off again in the third quarter.

It paid off -- the Jaguars pinned the Screaming Eagles deep in their territory both times and did not let up. Seneca Valley started all 10 of its drives inside its 35-yard line. Northwest, meantime, started five of its 10 drives in Seneca Valley territory; the Jaguars' worst starting position was their 38.

"Field position had a lot to do with it, but I don't think it mattered," Seneca Valley Coach Terry Changuris said. "We couldn't run the ball, we couldn't throw the ball, we couldn't do anything. We did not handle the conditions well. Northwest played a great game, and they just dominated us."