The Northwest High School football team returned to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time since December, and though the weather was warmer, the crowd was quieter, and the games were less physical, the result was the same.
Playing in the Baltimore Ravens 7-on-7 Football Tournament, the defending Class 4A state champion Jaguars defeated their three opponents, capping off the tournament with a victory against defending Class 1A state champion Fort Hill in the title game.
“The most important thing is that it helped us develop ... it’s helped us work on our communication,” Northwest coach Mike Neubeiser said. “... We try not to dwell too much on the victory but we really try to concentrate on the details of it.”
Northwest scored with ease in Saturday’s eight-team touch football tournament, compiling 22 touchdowns in the three games. The Jaguars found the end zone in all but one possession in its 7-4 quarterfinals victory against Kent County, then defeated Broadneck 8-5 in the semifinals.
“I feel better this summer,” said rising junior quarterback Mark Pierce, a second-year starter. “Last year we were trying to figure ourselves out and who we were. It took time during the season to figure out what we had to do to win but I feel like this season we know ourselves a lot better and we know what our team can do.”
The Jaguars graduated several key contributors on offense, including Josh Gills and Matt Watson, but returning players such as E.J. Lee, Troy Lefeged, Aaron-David Beidleman and Brandon Williams are taking on greater roles, Pierce said.
“It’s hard to lose those guys, but we have a lot of people stepping up,” Pierce said.
Northwest and Oxon Hill — which lost to Broadneck in the quarterfinals — were the lone representatives from Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, respectively.
The Clippers offense ran smoothly in the overtime defeat, with senior Anthony Dougherty at quarterback and senior transfer Devon Gaskin (Charles H. Flowers) leading the receiving corps. Gaskin opened the game with a touchdown reception and had another touchdown late in regulation to send the game into overtime.
“[The transition] hasn’t been that hard because at Oxon Hill, they’re very family oriented. And they’re fun, they help me have fun,” Gaskin said. “At Flowers I had fun, but I’m having more fun here right now.”
Dougherty, a starter since his freshman season, said Gaskin has been a welcome addition to the pass-heavy offense.
“It spreads us out more and allows us to make big plays,” Dougherty said.
The Clippers are hoping to take another step forward after going 5-5 last season and 2-8 the year before.
“Just keep working hard, and come out on top,” Gaskin said.