BETHESDA – The 2023 high school football season kicked off Friday night in Montgomery County as Walter Johnson visited regional rivals Bethesda-Chevy Chase.
In a combative and, at times, defensive affair, the visiting Wildcats held off the Barons for the 21-14 victory.
It is Walter Johnson’s first win under new head coach Aaron Fiddler, who took over for Larry Hurd Jr. as he was promoted to the school’s athletic director.
“Because of who Coach Hurd is, it’s not been any pressure,” said Fiddler. “He’s been there every step of the way for me. He’s been a good mentor for me.”
Fiddler’s previous head coaching position was at Hedgesville High School in West Virginia. He has also coached at other schools in West Virginia and Virginia.
“It’s big time for our program to get this win tonight,” said Fiddler. “I’m really excited for our guys and our coaches.”
However, B-CC struck first, as quarterback Carson Griffey led his team downfield on their first drive of the game, ending with running back Chris Jones pushing through defenders for a seven-yard touchdown.
The Wildcats responded on their ensuing drive as quarterback Charlie Blessing connected with Reid Wisniewski on a huge pass, which set up a quarterback sneak touchdown. Walter Johnson scored its two-point conversion to take an 8-7 lead early in the second quarter.
“We grinded really hard,” said Blessing. “Our new offense is really tough. We came together as a team. Our chemistry’s really coming together.”
With less than five minutes remaining before halftime, Walter Johnson found the end zone once again as Dylan Byrd took the handoff and scampered 38 yards down the field for a touchdown, making it 15-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Barons fumbled the ball, and the Wildcats recovered, leading to Blessing connecting with Daniel Kenvo for a seven-yard score with 30 seconds left in the half.
“Charlie does a great job, just like a lot of our guys,” said Fiddler about Blessing. “Charlie gets us in and out of plays when we have a call that we need to change. It’s great to have a senior leader like that.”
The second half didn’t involve much scoring, as both defenses stepped up and made some big stops. B-CC made two attempts to score in the red zone late in the third and early in the fourth but were stopped both times.
The Barons cut the deficit by seven late in the fourth, thanks to Lucas Scribner scoring on a 13-yard touchdown run.
“I’m proud of the way they fought,” said B-CC head coach Ben Minturn. “There’s a lot we can clean up and a lot we can do to get better.”
However, when the Barons got the ball back later, Griffey attempted a pass tipped and intercepted by Thomas Pitsenberger, sealing the away win for Walter Johnson.
“First interception, not going to lie, it feels good,” said Pitsenberger. “I love the win. That’s all that matters for us.”