“They would occasionally put me in to see what I could do,” he said, but on a unit featuring All-Met Jalen Christian and La’Kye Alston, opportunities were few and far between.
But with Christian and Alston graduated, that left a hole in the offense. That meant the 5-foot-11 junior with electrifying speed would finally get his chance this season — and as he demonstrated early on against Seneca Valley, he’s been up to the challenge.
On a night when Jake Funk ran the ball 40 times, it was the other playmakers who cracked the tough Screaming Eagles defense and led the Swarmin’ Hornets to a 21-3 road victory Friday in Germantown. The win over No. 10 Seneca Valley (8-1, 6-1 Montgomery 3A) makes No. 2 Damascus the last unbeaten team in Montgomery County.
Vinson showed off his speed and playmaking abilities on the opening possession. On the fourth snap of the game, Julian Kinard faked a handoff and then flung a pass to his left, behind the line of scrimmage. There stood Vinson, who caught the ball in stride, sprinted to the outside and ran in for the 41-yard score.
“To start now, it’s just great making plays,” Vinson said.
That was the first of two passing touchdowns from Kinard. The senior didn’t throw much, but made the most of his opportunities. In the second quarter, he connected with Joey Salisbury for an eight-yard score that put Damascus ahead 12-3 going into halftime.
“We knew they were going to be keying on Jake a lot, so we really had to get to the play-action, and it really worked,” Kinard said.
That lead was more than enough for the Swarmin’ Hornets (9-0, 7-0), who locked down the Seneca Valley attack and drained the second-half clock with runs from Funk. The senior finished with 264 yards and found the end zone on his final carry — a one-yard run — in the closing moments.
The defense put pressure on Seneca Valley quarterback Petey Gaskins throughout the game and kept running backs Adrian Platt and Darius Golston in check.
Whenever the Screaming Eagles’ offense threatened, Damascus was able to make a stop. In the fourth quarter, Gaskins launched a deep pass that Vinson deflected into the hands of teammate Tyler Hall for the interception.
Vinson’s night wasn’t finished. After Funk’s touchdown, with Seneca Valley driving deep into Damascus territory on its final possession, Vinson dived for an interception in the end zone to clinch the Swarmin’ Hornets’ victory.
“If we can win in this tough environment, I think we can win anywhere,” Kinard said. “I think we can really do our job and just push through it.”