MOCO Football Preview: Sherwood vs. Paint Branch

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BURTONSVILLE, Md. (WDVM) – There are no postseason implications on Friday in Montgomery County, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to play for.

Under the lights Friday, Sherwood and Paint Branch will play for a chance to finish their condensed seasons undefeated and to beat their rival from down the road.

“I think a win over Paint Branch means that we’re state champions to be honest,” Sherwood senior quarterback Sean Yamada, who will play lacrosse at Susquehanna next year and hopes to walk on to the football team there, said. “We’ve played them four times the past two years and we’ve come short. We came short twice last year and we won’t be coming short again.”

Sherwood made a statement with a 31-0 win over Damascus last week. In the first week, they played Quince Orchard tough in a scrimmage of one quarter. Warriors head coach Tom Crowell tells WDVM that the players are buying into the system and led by his 17 seniors, are playing some good football against tough competition.

“We’re not trying to make a statement, we’re just trying to go out and play football and try to play the best we can play,” Crowell said Thursday. “Paint Branch is a serious program and they’ve been good for a long time.”

Others on Sherwood’s squad say that the desire to beat Paint Branch predates their time on the team.

“We’ve lost to them twice in a row, my brother also lost to them last time he played them so it will be another taste of revenge and avenging ourselves and doing what we have to do,” Sherwood senior wide receiver Jalen Clyatt said. “And we’re ready. It’s coming.”

Paint Branch has had Sherwood’s number in recent years. The Panthers have beaten Sherwood four times in the past two seasons, ending the Warriors’ season in the playoffs twice. They’ve also beaten them in each of the last five meetings.

Paint Branch head coach Michael Nesmith says his team is not underestimating their opponent.

“This is a rival and no matter when you play them or what the circumstances are you want to win that game,” Nesmith said. “There are some guys that I lost to 30 years ago that still let me know about it when I see them. And I was like, you don’t want that.”

Compared to Sherwood’s 17 seniors, Paint Branch has a younger squad, led by key juniors quarterback and cornerback Octavian Smith Jr. and running back Khalil Radway.

“We’re just striving for the best and bringing out the best out of each other and playing as a team,” Smith Jr. said. “Right now we’re all just trying to make the best of the opportunity and just come out and play ball. If we come out and execute, then we should be alright.”

But despite the upper hand in recent matchups, the Panthers also see this game as the closest thing to a state championship this season. Both also say that finishing this season with a win, would be a huge step toward a state championship in the 2021-22 season.

“For me it’s like a playoff. We want to win. We don’t want to lose to them,” Radway said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to beat them.”

WDVM will have extensive coverage of the final Friday night of high school football in Montgomery County this Spring that will air in our 11:30 p.m. 30-minute sports connection special show Friday night, other games to look out for:

  • Richard Montgomery vs. Quince Orchard
  • Northwest vs. Damascus
  • Seneca Valley vs. Clarksburg
  • Rockville vs. Gaithersburg
  • Walter Johnson vs. Churchill

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