GAITHERSBURG – The Quince Orchard High School football team opens its season with a third consecutive win, dominating Walter Johnson 42-0 Friday night to continue its quest for a second straight state championship.
“I thought we did some good stuff on defense and special teams tonight,” said Quince Orchard head coach John Kelley. “But we weren’t clicking as well on offense tonight, but that’s going to happen sometimes. But so far, we’ve played pretty well.”
For Kelley and his Cougars, last year’s title win is no longer in mind and “really means nothing.” Instead, with a new and younger roster, the focus has been to make this year’s squad a championship contender.
“This is a completely new year,” said Kelley. “It’s a new team. We have to continue to get better every week, and we’ve got a lot of room to get better.”
Tavahri Groves had two touchdowns in the first quarter (one in the air, one on the ground), while Iverson Howard had two rushing scores.
“Both those kids are special,” Kelley stated about Groves and Howard. “I’m glad that they’re on my team.”
Groves’ first touchdown came off a 22-yard pass from Savan Briggs, while his next score had him running into the end zone from 15 yards out to make it 14-0.
“We’ve got to put more work in,” said Howard. “We’ve got to get back to practice. We’ve got to get more work in, so we can repeat.”
However, the Cougars struggled on offense against Walter Johnson. Quince Orchard fumbled the ball in the second quarter, and WJ recovered.
Later in the first half, the Cougars also fumbled on a bad snap. However, on the next play, the Wildcats gave the ball back to Quince Orchard on a fumble, leading to a 5-yard touchdown run from Howard to make it 21-0 at halftime.
“It was a good win,” said Harvey. “But we’ve got Damascus next week, so we’re just preparing for Damascus now.”
In the third quarter, Kelley unveiled his bag of tricks by attempting a fake punt, with punter Elisha West taking the ball over the 25-yard-line for a first down.
The trick play led to Howard shedding multiple tackles on his way to a 23-yard rushing touchdown to improve the rout to 28-0.
“We came back from halftime,” said Howard. “We had to fix our mistakes and get better. All worked at the end.”
In the third, Briggs completed a long pass to Kobe Neal, who made an incredible catch down the sideline, which set up a 3-yard rushing touchdown for the Cougars.
The game’s last score came courtesy of the Quince Orchard defense after it blocked a Walter Johnson field goal attempt. Josh Weitzman picked up the loose ball and returned it 63 yards to the house to seal the Cougars’ win.
“Defense got it done,” said Harvey. “But the defense needs to improve more because if we play like this next week, we’re going to lose. We’re going to look at the film, and we’re going to practice more.”
Photos by Mike Clark/The Sports Pulse