Game of the Week: Northwest vs Paint Branch


Aj Yearwood

The Panthers have been hard at work all week as they prepare to take on 4th seeded Northwest on Friday night.

Aj Yearwood, Staff Writer

This week Paint Branch hits the road to take on Northwest in the third round of the 4A state football playoffs. In PB’s last game against Einstein, a 56-20 dominant win, the player of the game was senior running back Khalil Radway, who put up 238 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. According to Khalil, the Panther run game is one of the keys to their success. In fact, he declares that “We have the best-run game in the state.” For Khalil, who has been the Panther’s primary running back, it “feels good” that the coaches trust his ability to run the ball effectively. 

In their next matchup, the 9-1 Panthers take on the 10-1 Jaguars in a battle that should be worthy of this level of the playoffs. Both teams suffered their only loss of the season to number one seed Quince Orchard with the Panthers dropping a tight one on September 3rd by a score of 20-13, while the Jags lost 31-0 on October 22nd. 

This early-season loss for the Panthers was something that showed them what they needed to do the rest of the season. Now, according to Paint Branch kicker Josh Muller, “the team is feeling confident.” This confidence is what this team needs in order to beat Northwest, a perennial power in Montgomery County. 

PB assistant coach Myron Flowers knows that the team’s preparation has been important, especially when they are focused. He notes that “Practice makes perfect when you actually attack practice.” 

The last time the Panthers played Northwest was in the playoffs in 2019 where they lost 20-12. Northwest went on to the 4A state title game that year where they fell to Wise 35-14. In the playoff matchup that year between PB and Northwest, the Jags held the Panthers to 204 total yards, with just 77 through the air and 127 on the ground. A key to this year’s matchup will be improving on those numbers and being more effective on third down as PB went just 4 for 14 in the 2019 matchup. 

This year, the Panthers are led on offense by Radway and fellow senior Octavian Smith, Jr. Both players have excited fans and frustrated defenses all season. Smith, who just received his sixteenth division one offer from Boston College, has 872 passing yards on the year with 13 touchdowns to only 2 interceptions. Radway has amassed 864 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns on the season. No offense is able to operate without a strong line, and this year’s O-line is led by senior left guard Shaun Lee, center Malik Easterling, left tackle Elrenton Andrews, right tackle Levine Zayzay, right guard Jordan Bennett. 

The wide receiver corps is led by seniors Isaiah Russell and Sam Korpoi and junior Tavon Bailey. Russell leads the team with 24 receptions for 411 yards and 5 touchdowns. Overall, the Panther offense averages just over 44 points per game. 

The Panther defense is led by seniors Jordan Knight, who has 71 total tackles and 3 sacks, and Sam Korpoi, who totaled 59 total tackles and 2 sacks. Other key contributors on the defense are senior Isaiah Young, Lee, and Andrews. Lee helped set the tone in the playoff win against Einstein with an 8-yard sack on the first play of the game. The Panther defense has suffocated opponents all season as they only allow 6.5 points per game.  

Fans can expect an offensive barrage from both teams on Friday night as the Jaguars have similar numbers as the Panthers. For this matchup, Paint Branch junior Rashad Bradley believes, “If we play good and they play well we’re still gonna come out on top.” 

The winner of this matchup will move on to the state semifinals and take on the winner of the Blair/Wise game following Friday.