The consensus game of the year in Montgomery 4A West football takes place Friday night at Richard Montgomery when undefeated heavyweight Quince Orchard takes on Gaithersburg, a team reinvigorating its storied football tradition after a 3-7 season last year.
The main question surrounding the showdown is whether Gaithersburg’s Northwestern-bound running back Solomon Vault will play against a nightmarishly quick and strong Quince Orchard defense that’s allowed just 20 points all season. Vault, who Coach Kreg Kephart says would be “the fastest player on the field” if he plays, has missed three games with a leg injury, and both player and coach say they won’t know until Friday whether or not he will be able to go.
“I’ve been still trying to practice, but I’m still day to day. . . .” Vault said. “It’s a decision that me, Coach Kep, my mom and dad will make. Of course I want to play, because it’s a big game. . . it’s going to be crazy. But gotta be smart.”
Whether the Cougars (7-0, 2-0 Montgomery 4A West) must stop Vault or Xaviyer Mosley, who rushed for 128 yards and a touchdown in last week’s 40-6 win over Magruder, Quince Orchard defensive back Malcolm Brown says he and his teammates are expecting a “tough ballgame” from the Trojans.
“[Whether Vault plays or not] doesn’t really change things for us,” Brown said. “Him playing would make it a little more challenging, but we will prepare as if he’s going to play in the game. And if he doesn’t, that doesn’t really matter to us. We’re preparing for a challenge either way.”
And while Gaithersburg (7-0, 3-0) would certainly love to have Vault in the fold for what the running back called “the biggest game since my freshman year,” Kephart says he won’t write his team off without him.
“[When Solomon] got hurt in Week 3, everyone said we were done — a one man team. And we went out and beat Clarksburg, beat Northwest, beat Wootton, all when people thought we were done for the year,” Kephart said. “Obviously we’d love to have Solomon, he’s a special running back. But to the team’s credit, we’ve proven we’re far from a one-man team.”
With or without Vault, Gaithersburg will face an uphill battle against the Cougars, who have mauled opponents by an average of just under 32 points per game this season. Quince Orchard’s lone test came in a 7-6 win over Damascus, the only time the Cougars have scored fewer than 35 points or won by fewer than 28 this season.
The Trojans boast an average margin of victory of 19 points, but without Vault, they had to gut out a come-from-behind 6-3 win at Churchill earlier this month. Kephart says he’d prefer a low scoring game against Quince Orchard, which is probably a good thing for the Trojans to shoot for as Quince Orchard has yet to yield more than seven points in a game this season.