Paint Branch 3, Springbrook 2.
In the last two weeks, the Paint Branch High School football team has a slight edge in combined points leading up to its matchup with Springbrook. The game — 6:30 p.m. Friday at Montgomery Blair High School — features two teams that have lost two in a row after 2-0 starts and are desperate to get back on the playoff track.
“If we continue to do the things that we’ve been doing these last two weeks especially, the playoffs are a pipe dream,” said Paint Branch coach Mike Nesmith, whose team was shut out by Quince Orchard then lost to James H. Blake, 7-3. “We’re going to struggle to beat anyone remaining on our schedule if we continue those things. That’s not just coach speak. That’s a fact.”
Paint Branch and Springbrook are the only two Silver Spring-area teams to make the playoffs in the previous four years. Paint Branch reached the postseason in 2011 and 2009, and Springbrook qualified in 2010 and 2009.
Paint Branch (2-2), Springbrook (2-2) and Blake (2-2) — all members of the state’s 4A North Region — face uphill battles to make the playoffs this year. Last season, an 8-2 Perry Hall team qualified for the region’s final playoff spot.
Einstein is 2-2 in a loaded 3A West, and the area’s other three teams — Kennedy, Blair and Northwood — are a combined 1-11.
So, for one of those 4A North teams to ensure the Silver Spring area is represented in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year there’s a good chance it must win all its remaining games. That starts Friday with Paint Branch and Springbrook trying to get their offenses back on track.
“We’re going to have to get explosive plays, because their defense doesn’t give up a lot of points without explosive plays,” Nesmith said. “We have to get a long pass to get downfield or a big, long run of some sort, because, if you don’t, you’re not going to drive down the field.”
Still, Springbrook coach Adam Bahr said Paint Branch — which, led by quarterback Gaston Cooper, scored 41 points against Rockville and 42 points against Magruder — has the best offense his team has faced this season.
“They’ve got weapons all over the field,” Bahr said. “We’re going to have our hands full Friday night. There’s no doubt about that.
“We have not faced a quarterback like Paint Branch’s. He’s dynamic. He throws the ball well. They run that zone read, where he waits and waits and waits and he’s reading the line and then he’ll pull and run. So, this is a big challenge for us.”
In addition to slowing Paint Branch, Bahr knows his team, beset by several injuries, must score more.
“We need to get back a little bit of our mojo,” Bahr said. “We’ve kind of lost our way, and that starts with me. I call the offense.”
For either team, this week would be a great time to find its way.
“Can we make a playoff run?” Bahr said. “I suppose we’re going to win this if that’s something that we want to do.”