Rockets’ offense and defense shine as RM defeats Gaithersburg on Senior Night 28-12 to clinch playoff berth


Photo by Tony Sandoval

Evan Scheinberg

The night began as seniors from the football, cheer, and poms teams were recognized for their participation and commitment to RM throughout their tenure at the school. As each senior came strolling down the midfield line, the student section erupted into cheers.

Richard Montgomery’s own marching band delivered an outstanding performance of the national anthem once again with more and more football players joining in the continuation of the equal rights protest by raising their right fists throughout the anthem.

Gaithersburg won the opening coin toss and opted to kickoff, giving RM the first possession of the game. After a short kick return by senior Enrique Zuniga, the Rockets began the possession on their own 35 yard line. On the very first play from scrimmage, Spencer Silverstein connected with fellow junior Hunter Arbeeny for a 65-yard touchdown to open the game. The team, as well as entire home crowd, broke out in booming chants for Arbeeny. Senior kicker Juver Diaz knocked in the extra point to give the Rockets a 7-0 lead just seconds into the game.

The Trojans’ possession was short and sweet, as they were stuffed by the Rocket defensive line and shut down on great pass coverage by senior Kris Ricks.

The Rockets’ sideline was fired up from the beginning. Senior Fabien Chiza, a member of the football program for all four of his years at RM, led his teammates in calling out plays while on defense, as well as cracking jokes to his teammates and coaches to keep the mood light.

On fourth down with one yard to go, Silverstein handed the ball off to senior captain Tylen Hebron, who maneuvered his way all around the defense, finding a hole and running the ball into the end zone for his first score of the night. Diaz followed the 44-yard score with a PAT that split the uprights, giving the Rockets a 14-0 lead with time winding down in the first quarter.

Photo by Tony Sandoval
Photo by Tony Sandoval

Gaithersburg’s possession resumed when play began in the second quarter. The RM defense held down the fort once again, forcing the Trojans to punt after only two sets of downs.

With time running down under a minute left in the half, junior safety Daryn Alexander leaped off the ground and hauled in his first interception, putting the Rockets in scoring position with a mere 26 seconds left to play. The score remained 14-0 as both teams jogged off to the locker room.

The second half commenced after an entertaining rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” by the RM Poms squad. Diaz’s kickoff to Gaithersburg was returned to the Trojans own 37-yard line. The Rockets’ sidelines continued to encourage the Rockets’ continuous all-out efforts on the field.

Gaithersburg, however, answered RM’s efforts with a well-strung drive themselves. Two big gains on the ground led to their eventual score to end the Rockets’ shutout. The holder fumbled the ball on the PAT, so the resulting score was 14-6 in favor of the Rockets with just under 10 minutes left in the quarter.

RM came out on their own possession in hopeful fashion. Silverstein picked up a crucial first down on a quarterback sneak, and Hebron continued to do his part of the offense. Meanwhile, sophomore lineman Kianoush Afshar led the line in clearing Hebron’s path on multiple plays.

Photo by Tony Sandoval
Photo by Tony Sandoval

On the second play of the Trojans’ drive, Alexander intercepted his second pass of the night, once again putting the Rockets in scoring position. Soon after, Hebron ran in his second touchdown of the game for short distance out of the end zone. The PAT was converted, and the Rockets extended their lead to 21-6 with the quarter ending soon after.

The Trojans orchestrated a drive down the field through short passing and rushing to begin the fourth and final quarter. Deep in Rocket territory, junior Avery Reeves-Williams dragged down the Trojans’ quarterback, who let go of the ball as he fell to the ground. Junior defensive lineman Treavon Parsons was in the right place as he laid out to intercept the ball. The sidelines erupted with praise for Parsons and approval from the coaching staff.

After the Parsons interception, RM seemed to have another scoring drive in action. However, Gaithersburg’s defense stiffened up, forcing the Rockets to turn the ball over on downs once again.

Senior George Bryan fielded Gaithersburg’s onside kick on RM’s 40-yard line. The Rockets ran the ball as time was winding all the way down in the game. With less than a minute to play, the game ended with a successful handoff to Hebron and his third touchdown of the night, along with the fourth successful PAT from Diaz. The final score was 28-12, in RM’s favor.

Photo by Evan Scheinberg
Photo by Evan Scheinberg

The Rockets clinched their second consecutive playoff berth with their win over Gaithersburg, and they look to clinch home field advantage next Friday at Randallstown High School.

Featured photo by Tony Sandoval.