To reach the 4A state semifinals for the second straight year, the vaunted Quince Orchard defense stifled a potent Northwest offensive attack, including surrendering just 60 yards in the first half of that 4A West Region final.
To return to the 4A state championship game, the Cougars will have to slow perhaps the most prolific offense in the state. Westminster (12-0) is paced by senior quarterback Deryk Kern, who accounted for nine touchdowns in last weekend’s 62-28 rout of Sherwood to win the 4A North Region final.
Kern, in fact, has been part of 65 touchdowns this fall, including a state record 61 scores through the air. In doing so, he has amassed 3,612 passing yards on 188-of-310 passing with 10 interceptions to lead the Owls to the state semifinals for the first time.
His favorite targets this fall have been Bradley Metcalf (42 receptions, 904 yards, 18 TDs), Darius Clifton (44/947/10) and Garrett Bean (50/948/18). Dan Johnson is the Owls top rusher with 781 yards and four scores on 93 carries.
The Cougars will counter with a defense that has allowed just 5.8 points per game with five shutouts and held eight opponents to under 10 points. Its paced by linebackers Carlo St. Regis and Marcus Newby, a ball-hawking defensive line and a backfield that’s paced by D’Andre Johnson, who returned a fumble for a score among three total touchdowns in the team’s 41-7 win against Northwest Friday night.
More importantly, Quince Orchard (11-1) brings a redemptive attitude that it carries over from last year’s heartbreaking loss to Old Mill in the 2011 4A state final. The Patriots won the contest on a two-point conversion in overtime.
“We’re not done yet,” said Cougars coach Dave Mencarini following Friday’s rout of the Jaguars (8-4). “This is a great win and we’re happy and we’re excited, but this isn’t our ultimate goal and there are a lot people in this program and in this community who have a bad taste in their mouth still. We’re trying to do something about that.”
Offensively, Quince Orchard brings a balanced ground game in its spread attack that’s paced by Matt Choi, Tyrell Williams and Johnson, who have all rushed for more than 500 yards on the season.
Choi, a senior who replaced injured starter Mikey Murtaugh, has been efficient leading the Cougars’ aerial attack, passing for nearly 800 yards while spreading the ball around to numerous targets.
Westminster’s defense had grown into a pretty stingy group until Sherwood dropped 28 points on it. Before that game, the Owls had allowed 28 total points in victories against Winters Mill, Century, Leonardtown, South Carroll and James H. Blake.