Friday, April 18, 2014 9:30 AM
Published on: Thursday, November 21, 2013
By Donna Broadway
BURTONSVILLE- Paint Branch (10-1) defeated Sherwood (7-4) 42-7 in the 4A north regional semifinals. This is the second time in two weeks that the teams met and the second time Paint Branch defeated Sherwood in a blowout victory. The first time, Paint Branch beat Sherwood 55-21.
Though Sherwood had first possession, a turnover led to a nine yard touchdown by Johnny Littlejohn giving Paint Branch the first points of the game. Sherwood answered Paint Branch’s touchdown with a 32-yard run by Chris Minor. That was their only touchdown. Quarterback, Neven Sussman left the game in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. With their first backup already injured, Sherwood turned to their third string quarterback but the momentum was gone.
Paint Branch had a record setting game with a 67-yard touchdown to Javon Curry in the second quarter. Sam Stewart had four extrapoints and Javon Grafton had three touch downs, including a 70-yard drive. Curry had two touchdowns and quarterback Gaston Cooper had a one-yard touchdown.
This was Paint Branch’s first playoff win since 2009. Their only championship win was in 1975.
“I am extremely proud of the defense and how they played. Spottswood is an extremely good running. They have several good kids. To be able to do that consecutive games essentially against a good team after struggling last week, getting back to playing that level of defense is good,” said Paint Branch head coach Mike Nesmith.
Nesmith attributes the teams 10-1 record and quarterback Gaston Cooper’s improvement to offseason training and chemistry building for the team
“There was a lot of film study in the off-season, a lot of self reflection on his part and really understanding. He’s just a talented kid and sometimes that can work against you. You try to fit the ball into really tight windows, he has a tremendous amount of faith in all his receivers that they’ll come through for him if he puts it up for himself,” said Nesmith. “He takes a lot of risks that would cost us at times so we spent the off season studying the mistakes that he made and once he really bought into letting me teach him, it just took his game to another level. A level we knew he was capable of but it’s just nice to see him reach this. We are extremely proud of him but he gets all the credit because he received the coaching and did a lot of work on his own.”
In the 2012 playoffs, Sherwood was defeated in the regional finals by Westminster 62-28. First year head coach and Sherwood alumni, Chris Greer said he is proud of the team.
“It was tough, we lost our quarterback in the second quarter and our next backup was already injured and so we’re on our third string quarterback who really did a great job and moved the ball a little bit in the second half and he led the team. I’m just proud of these seniors,” said Greer. Not a lot of people even expected us to make the playoffs this year and I’m proud of them for buying into the program. A lot of people think we overachieve but these guys set really high standards and my book they achieved them and this is just a start.”
Sherwood running back/quarterback Elijah Spottswood said he will miss the Friday night games and is looking forward to playing in college.
“It hurts now that we can’t play on Friday nights anymore. That’s where memories are made. I know I’m going to play on the next level,” said Spottswood.
Despite their second blowout loss against Paint Branch in two weeks, Spottswood only had positive to things to say about their opponent.
“Paint Branch is a force to be reckon with and hopefully they represent Montgomery County late in the state playoffs,” said Spottswood.
Paint Branch will take on Perry Hall in the 4a north regional finals on November 22 at 7p.m.