WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Head coach Dave Mencarini has steadily built Quince Orchard into a staple program in the D.C. metropolitan area. Entering his ninth season at the Gaithersburg high school, Mencarini has amassed an eye-opening 85-14 record, a state title in 2007 and dozens of college recruits.
And then there was last season, a 13-1 gem by all accounts, which ended in the ultimate heartbreak. An Old Mill two-point conversion on the very last play of the state championship game at M&T Bank Stadium devastated the Cougars 36-35.
"It was a great gutsy call. The good thing is that it's not like [Rob Chesson] walked in the end zone. But he got it in," recalled Mencarini. "I didn't want to watch it [on film]. But as a coaching staff we all kind of thought, let's bring some closure to it. It is what it is."
The closure has worked, and Mencarini says this 2012 team seems as focused as ever. Don't expect a "hangover" from Quince Orchard this season. The Cougars are returning 15 starters including a tremendous front seven, featuring Marcus Newby, a linebacker committed to Nebraska. Carlo St. Regis, Kieran Gregory and Tyrell Williams are other names to watch out for.
"The positive thing that you can take away from losing the state championship game, is that 75 percent of our team returns and knows what it feels like to walk off the field the way that we did, in the manner that we did," described Mencarini. "I don't have to do a lot of motivation. Because we have so many guys that are returning, that are great leaders, are they know what it feels like it."
The 2011 season is in the past. Mencarini says he doesn't make any mention of the final play, because he doesn't have too. This is a new group ready to make their own mark.
For more on Quince Orchard, stay tuned for our preseason magazine, due out in early August. Follow updates on our twitter account.