There are four words that a coach, up five points with just more than a minute remaining in a first-round playoff game, absolutely does not want to hear. Still, it’s what Seneca Valley High School defensive back Jamir Wilson said: “I actually messed up.”
He’s never looked so good messing up.
With North Hagerstown driving on the Screaming Eagle 32-yard line, quarterback Nick Karlen dropped back to pass and pump-faked to a receiver across the middle. Wilson jumped. His man faded back, or wanted to, but James Jones-Williams walled him off, and Karlen’s pass ended up badly underthrown and directly into the hands of the very relieved Wilson. The Screaming Eagles would kneel the clock out to hold on to their 12-7 victory in Germantown.
“Seniors have to make plays,” Seneca coach Fred Kim said. “Our seniors have to make plays, they must make a difference in the ball game and that’s exactly what he did. He stepped in there and played his coverage perfectly and made the play. And what set that up was James Jones, who did not play the entire game. We put him in at linebacker in coverage and he walled the kid exactly the way we told him to … that was the difference right there.”
The real back-breaker appeared to have happened earlier in the quarter when Calvin Reighard, who was cleared by his doctors earlier that day to play after suffering a concussion last week, scored on a 1-yard keeper to cap a grinding, 16-play, 92-yard drive that took all of 6 minutes and 37 seconds.
“Normally we try to be a fast-paced offense and score quickly,” said Reighard, a junior who finished with 152 yards and one touchdown. “But we realized they were winded a little bit and [we] wanted to pound the rock a little bit and kind of take them out of their own game.”
But the Hubs’ offense, which had averaged just 2.4 yards per play during the first 39 minutes of the game, turned around and returned with a touchdown of their own on a 73-yard catch and run from Tre Anderson.
Seneca had a pair of drives stall and North took over on their own 21 where four Hubs would combine for 47 yards in five plays, making the crowd a little more anxious then they would have liked. But then Wilson jumped too early, Jones-Williams played road block, and the senior safety gladly cradled in Karlen’s pass.
“We said to ourselves ‘We got to win this on defense.’ We can’t expect the offense — when we’re down our top two football players, we got to put our best wideout at running back and change things around, and expect to win a football game, so we knew it was going to be tough.”
Meanwhile, over in neighboring Damascus, the Hornets were stunned in overtime by a resurgent Urbana team that gives the Screaming Eagles home field advantage one more time as well as a very awkward situation at home for Kim and assistant coach Bob Plante. The two coaches have sons currently playing for Urbana.
Said Kim, “That certainly is Bob Plante’s and my own worst nightmare.”
Seneca Valley 12, North Hagerstown 7
Seneca Valley (10-1) 0 6 0 6—12
North Hagerstown (9-2) 0 0 0 7—7
SV—Kellen Staton 22 run (Nayan Patel kick failed)
SV—Calvin Reighard 1 run (Calvin Reighard pass failed)
NH—Tre Anderson 73 pass from Nick Karlen (Isaiah Keyes kick failed)
Seneca Valley—Kevin Joppy 20-94; Kellen Staton 11-40; Ephraim Joaquin 4-13; Maurice Gaines 3-8; Calvin Reighard 4-5.
North Hagerstown—Isaiah Keyes 11-59; Preston Carey 3-35; Kyle Hewlett 7-27; Nick Karlen 4-16; Roland Renner 2-6; Tre Anderson 3-0.
Seneca Valley—Calvin Reighard 12-17-152-1; Maurice Gaines 1-2-10.
North Hagerstown—Nick Karlen 4-10-92-2.
Seneca Valley—Nick Fahs 5-86; Kevin Joppy 5-48; Kellen Staton 1-10; Austen Herbert 1-9; Travis Arthur 1-9.
North Hagerstown—Tre Anderson 2-77; Roland Renner 2-30.