Editor’s Note: This is the second in a two-part Q&A about the Quince Orchard-Henry A. Wise state championship game. Part I ran Wednesday on Gaithersburg Patch.
Gaithersburg’s Quince Orchard High School will meet Upper Marlboro’s Henry A. Wise High School in Friday night’s Maryland 4A Division state football championship game.
Quince Orchard hopes to avenge last season’s loss in the state title game, 36-35 to Old Mill, while Wise returns to the title game for the third time in four seasons.
QO head coach Dave Mencarini took some time to share his thoughts with Gaithersburg Patch on Friday’s game.
Gaithersburg Patch: Wise has handled its opponents with relative ease this season. Do you see any weakness in Wise that you're looking to exploit in your game plan?
Quince Orchard head football coach Dave Mencarini: I can’t really find one. We’ve exchanged a lot of film between the two programs and been looking to find things. I guess if you’re looking for a weakness, their biggest strength could also be their biggest weakness in the fact that they haven’t had any close games of late. I think their closest ball game was a 28-7 victory a couple weeks ago against Eleanor Roosevelt. They haven’t had a chance to get into a tight ball game, whereas we’ve been in several. It’s my hope that that plays into conditioning as well.
There’s been a lot of games where our starters have been out early, just like at Wise. There’s also been quite a few games where our guys have had to play into the fourth quarter and down to the last seconds of the game, and I think that would be an advantage for us, if we’re fortunate enough to keep the game close between them. As it gets later on in the game, fatigue can kind of set in. It’s definitely something we’ve discussed as a program this week.
Patch: Earlier this season you mentioned a handful of players you expected to step up and carry the mantle, including Tyrell Williams, Matt Choi, and Carlo St. Regis, among others. Have those players lived up to your expectation? Who has shined unexpectedly that could make an impact Friday?
Mencarini: I think those guys have done exactly what I thought they would do because they are great players. Those guys, Marcus Newby, Kieran Gregory. I think the one guy that it goes without saying doesn’t surprise me but has kind of gotten lost in the shuffle of the publicity some of the other players have gotten is DeAndre Johnson. He’s a guy that, as a rusher, plays running back, plays slot receiver, returns kicks, plays defensive back. He is by far our most valuable player because he does so much for the team to help us win. He’s the littlest guy on the field and he’s got the biggest heart. He’s just been awesome for us.
When Tyrell went down with an injury early on in the season we moved [DeAndre] around into certain roles. He can handle all that. He’s got a great football mind and he’s had so many explosive plays for us. He’s just been really fun to watch and I’ve really enjoyed coaching him.
Patch: Fill in the blank. In order to beat Henry A. Wise, my team must ________________?
Mencarini: Match their intensity. Wise has had very few games where they’ve had to play somebody who can match their intensity, who’s kind of struck back so to speak. Wise is a very physical football team and I think my team is very physical. So we have to match their intensity. They have some big guys; they have some big, athletic and great players. We can’t get caught up in that. We have to go out and do what we’ve done for the last 13 weeks and match their intensity.