Friday night marks the first time Quince Orchard's varsity football team takes the field since an . Cougars' head coach Dave Mencarini spoke with Patch to preview the season. In Part II of our Q&A (below) Mencarini gives Patch an inside look at his roster.
In Part I, .
Gaithersburg Patch: What players did you lose and need to fill a void in the lineup? Who do you see stepping up in those roles?
Quince Orchard Head Coach Dave Mencarini: Well obviously you talk about running back, we lost a major component of our offense last year in Mark Green, who, as you know, is the all-time leading rusher in our school’s history and was a tremendous, tremendous player. Again, not to sound like a jerk, but we’ve lost great players every year and the thing I take pride about in my program is we’ve always had kids that will be here to fill those roles and embrace the fact that, ‘You know what, I have to wait my turn now.’
We’ve got guys at running back and quarterback we’re really excited about. Our quarterback situation we have a junior taking over, Mikey Murtaugh takes over for Billy Plante. He has been at quarterback since he was six years old, so what he knows, he’s got that quarterback moxie, he’s a straight A student, so he brings a level of intelligence and he’s just a smart kid and can bring a different element to our offense. Billy was a great athlete, could run, could throw pretty well. Mikey, his skills are what you look for in a high school quarterback. A kid that can make good decision, make some throws when you need them, tough throws, and he’s a really good leader.
In the backfield, replacing Mark Green will be Tyrell Williams, who was our fullback last year. He’s a big, 210 pound fullback/tailback kind of guy. There’s an old saying in high school football that "you put the ball in your best player’s hands," and Tyrell is one of our best players. I think how we get him the ball may be different. Our offense, the great thing about our offense is we play to the strengths of our personnel. In year’s past we’ve had great runners like Mark and Ben Sasu and [others], this year we’ve got a committee of running backs led by Tyrell and a quarterback that can throw the ball pretty well.
Patch: We've all heard about , but who are some other key players to watch this season?
Mencarini: I think a key guy is our tight end/defensive end Kieran Gregory. He’s a three year starter, he’s committed to the University of Richmond, he brings, the good thing about a lot of the players I'm going to talk about is they have a lot of games underneath their belt. They’ve played a lot of games and they’re experienced. He’d be the first one, Tyrell Williams would be the second one, our middle linebacker Carlo St. Regis, again a guy who’s a three year starter. All those guys have a wealth of experience.
One kid we’re really excited about on both sides of the ball, offense and defense, he’s a junior, his name is Elliott Davis. Kid ran the ball last year in kind of a reserve role but has asserted himself as a big play wide receiver and corner. Another guy who really helps us on offense, defense, special teams besides Elliott is D'Andre Johnson. D'Andre started all 14 games last year, was great as a return guy. Started in the slot for us and played corner. We’re excited about what we can do, spread the ball around through Tyrell, Kieran at the tight end and D'Andre on the perimeter.
Patch: What are your expectations and team goals for the 2012 season?
Mencarini: I think early on in the season just to kind of manage, I don’t want to say manage the hype, but people are going to talk about us, we’ve got a high profile player in Marcus and you’ve got 15 of 22 starters returning on offense and defense and the expectation is going to be how do you manage that?
My expectation really is to rise to the occasion each Friday night. It’s something that we’ve had to do every year, especially now with such a difficult schedule, you can’t take a week off. So our kind of philosophy is we want to make practice pretty difficult on Monday and Tuesday so that Friday night is easy. And I don’t mean we’re going out and beating these kids up, but we’re putting them in a lot of situations where they have to think and execute under duress physically when they’re tired and stuff like that. I just think it’s kind of our program philosophy that we’ve always followed.
The other thing is with the understanding in mind that all anyone cares about is how good you were in your last game. That’s my favorite. The last game we played up until Friday didn’t end the way that we wanted. You kind of just play with a little chip on your shoulder and the fact that I went to a scrimmage (last Wednesday) and was kind of getting heckled by some rival fans, kids who would chant ‘Old Mill! Old Mill!’ as I was walking by. That’s good. And I appreciate those kind of things, but that’s kind of the thing that motivates me every day with practices and hopefully it motivates the kids as well. They understand that there’s an empty, kind of sick feeling in our stomachs and we have an opportunity to do something about it [this] week.
Check out the to vote for Quince Orchard's season opener against Sherwood.