No playoffs, no matter: West Potomac tops Mount Vernon again in Battle of the Highway

 

West Potomac players

West Potomac defensive players get instructions from the sidelines during their win Friday night. (Jon Roetman picture)

With his team likely eliminated from playoff contention, West Potomac’s Zack Monson used his right shoulder to help the Wolverines salvage their season with a victory over their Route 1 rival.

The senior linebacker stuffed Mount Vernon running back Jordyn Reid at the 1-yard line late in the fourth quarter, part of a goal-line stand that helped the Wolverines beat the Majors 34-20 on Friday night at West Potomac High School.

With the Wolverines up by 14 and roughly 5 minutes remaining, Reid took a handoff and plowed toward the end zone with hopes of cutting the West Potomac lead in half. Monson had other ideas, dipping his right shoulder to stop Reid short of the goal line. Mount Vernon’s fourth-down pass attempt fell incomplete and West Potomac was able run the final 4 minutes, 34 seconds off the clock.

“I read the guard pull and I went in the gap and saw the running back and just went low,” Monson said. “Last time, he dove and went under me and scored (in the third quarter), so I just went extra low.”

With a 4-5 record entering Friday’s contest, the Wolverines knew they would likely be competing in their final game of the season. That didn’t stop West Potomac from playing hard and extending its win streak over rival Mount Vernon to nine games. The Majors haven’t beaten the Wolverines since 2006.

“We just tried our best, tried our hardest,” Monson said. “We probably knew it was our last game so we just left it all out on the field.”

West Potomac took the lead for good on the opening play of the fourth quarter when running back Daiimon Cleveland took a direct snap and scored on fourth-and-goal from the 1, giving the Wolverines a 27-20 advantage. Less than five minutes later, Cleveland caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tanner Jones, extending West Potomac’s lead to 34-20.

Cleveland finished with 220 yards on the ground and scored three total touchdowns.

Jones threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 19-yard strike to DeAndre Webb that gave the Wolverines a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter.

“They stayed resilient, (and I’m) always happy to see them do that,” West Potomac head coach Jeremiah Ross said. “If it is the end — which more than likely it is — I think we did a great job.”

West Potomac finishes with a 5-5 record. Once the other Friday games came in, it became apparent that the win over Mount Vernon wasn’t enough to secure a playoff berth.

Ross voiced his displeasure with the current playoff system, saying it doesn’t reward teams for scheduling difficult opponents, but acknowledged the Wolverines didn’t take care of business during the season. Three of West Potomac’s losses came against teams from the perennially tough Concorde District, including a seven-point defeat against two-time defending state champion Westfield.

“If [West Potomac players] learn from the things that they could have done better and it helps them later on in life, than that’s great — and that’s more so what we’re looking for,” Ross said. “If the worst thing in their life is to go 5-5, they’re going to be OK.”

Slow start, miscues doom Majors

While West Potomac’s season is likely over, Mount Vernon finished the regular season 7-3 and will compete in the postseason for the second consecutive year under head coach Monty Fritts. On Friday, the Majors appeared capable of snapping their lengthy losing streak to the Wolverines before a costly mistake derailed their efforts.

After falling behind 17-0, Mount Vernon rallied to tie the score at 20 and forced a West Potomac punt late in the third quarter. But instead of having strong field position with a chance to take the lead, the Majors squandered the opportunity when a player mishandled the punt and West Potomac recovered on its own 29-yard line. The Wolverines then put together a 10-play scoring drive and never looked back.

Reid finished with 163 yards and a touchdown on the ground for the Majors, and also caught a touchdown pass. Mount Vernon quarterback Tim Heltzel threw a pair of touchdown passes, including a 4-yard toss to Kofi Kwarteng late in the second quarter. Kwarteng’s leaping grab, which cut the West Potomac lead to 17-13, was set up by his 80-yard reception on the previous play.

Playoff matchups

The first round of the Division 6 playoffs will see two local teams chasing a region title and a shot at the state playoffs:

  • Hayfield (7-3) will host Hylton (7-3). The Hawks completed the regular season Friday with a 42-31 win at Oakton, giving the Hawks a five-game winning streak entering the playoffs.
  • Mount Vernon (7-3) will play at Woodbridge (9-1). The Majors will be looking for their first Division 6 playoff win in program history after losing three of their final four regular season games.

Note: Edison’s turnaround season fell short of the Division 5 playoffs after the Eagles lost 33-21 to Lee on Friday night in Springfield. Edison finishes 3-7, a two-game improvement under first-year coach Chad Lewis.

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