Building a Lasting Legacy (Photos)
I started out driving for Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium around 4:30 last Friday evening. I felt like I was the last one to leave town.
Families, students, neighbors, even my cycling dad friends were all on their way to Lot A at the stadium to tailgate, I was headed for the Press Box. Most were packing food, cold weather gear and a season of football memories. Me – I had about 50 pounds of camera and computer equipment and ½ of a $4.99 Roast Beef sub from Harris Teeter.
The ICC was busy by 5PM with many cars passing me eastbound towards I-95. Many had QO paw bumper stickers. In the Friday night I-95 jam up that exists between the ICC and Route 32 I saw even more cars with QO Paw bumper stickers.
I was seated in the Press Box with Mike Cuthbert, Sports Writer for The Town Courier by 6:15 p.m. The newsies were just entering the box from all over the state to watch the 4A State Championship game between #3 Wise and #6 Quince Orchard.
At approximately 6:45 p.m. the Red Army entered the stadiums lower box seats. I went to the sidelines at 7 p.m.
If you ever have seen a QO football game you would know that the student section infamously calls themselves the Red Army (as opposed to White or Black) as that is one of the three branded colors of the school. They travel well.
By 7:10 p.m. QO parents and fans filled the visitor sections covering all seats from end zone to end zone.
Wise, from Upper Marlboro, one of the newest and largest Prince George County high schools showed up in force a while later but did not nearly have as many Friday Night Light followers as their opposition.
Once the game began I moved to the Wise sidelines to shoot – because there was too much press, marshals and followers along the QO sidelines. For me though the opposing sideline is a great spot by which to make the crowd comparisons. I shot from the Wise sideline for nearly 3 quarters – admittedly, because I like to have the Red Army in the background of my action photos.
Championship games are the best of high school football – it’s loud, the sidelines are energetic, there is lots of raw emotion, and it counts for a lifetime of memories.
QO would fall short once again. Wise came up with the big play with 2:14 minutes left in the final quarter.
The QO faithful stayed to the game’s conclusion and they all stood in silence eventually breaking out in supportive cheers after both teams shook hands.
In my sideline viewed opinion the QO community stood very proudly behind them, perhaps as expected, but more so in respect for what they mean to and have provided that upper Montgomery County area. Pride.
That group of 70 students along with their many coaches and support staff did what they said they would do at the end of the last season finale – return to M&T Bank Stadium for another title shot. Despite adversity during the season they did just that.
Until that evening they lost only two games – one to Old Mill in last year’s championship over time final and one to Seneca Valley earlier this fall – all by a combined margin of 4 points. They lost by 5 on Friday night. A record of 25 wins and only 3 losses is the enduring hallmark for this year’s seniors.
Opposing schools will have familiar fan taunts for QO winter sport teams as they did consistently last year – calling out “Old Mill” and now substituting it with “Wise” – as some significance of being 2nd best. But in this county no high school football team consistently matches up year after year on the football field with Quince Orchard.
Why is that? You can look at the coaches, the athletes, the booster club but from my perspective it is a little more. It’s because no other Montgomery County school has a better community following year after year than exists in that little corner of Gaithersburg. Damascus, maybe, Clarksburg is building, Good Counsel is too dispersed, Seneca Valley has a ways left to go for a comeback. QO stands well above all.
Seasons do pass. Larger football legacies are assembled like those at Richard Montgomery, (60’s); Gaithersburg (70’s); Seneca Valley (80’s – 90’s) and now its QO’s turn.
In that little Gaithersburg community those good memories continue to build into a lasting legacy.