Leopards keep rebuilding team

September 07, 2000

Leopards keep rebuilding team

By DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

SMITHSBURG - Football coach Buddy Orndorff is in year three of his restoration project at Smithsburg, and so far, his foundation is a solid one.

He went 0-5 to close 1997, 2-8 in 1998 and 5-5 last season. To improve even more in 2000, Orndorff simply needs to change a few numbers - roster numbers.

His lineup has 45 players, but 17 are sophomores that were promoted when the school cancelled its junior varsity program this season.

"When we start winning, the kids will come out. But in order to win, you've got to have kids," Orndorff said. "We're turning the corner, but it's a question of just how big is that corner."


Last year's Leopards took that corner on rails, riding a senior-dominated lineup (led by all-area running back Darrell Clopper and all-state punter Jon Henson) to playoff consideration as late as week 9. This year's version, however, will use the tractor-trailer approach - wide and slow.

"A lot of these kids were subs last season," Orndorff said. "Thank God they payed attention."

The offense is anchored by its line, where David King is at center and David Engelman will flank him to lead the charge for Smithsburg's current tailback by committee. Jon Papich, Mike Dietrich and Chris Mimnall will try to fill Clopper's shoes, shoes that ran for 1,225 yards and 15 TDs a year ago.

"We're not as far along as last year, where we walked in and picked up right where we left off," Orndorff said. "But this is a young line. ... They've got a lot of potential, and we'll see where they go.

"We'll go as far as they take us."

Defensively, Orndorff is much more comfortable, and the depth is there, but only at the expense of his JV team.

"You've got to have kids to play and we didn't have them," Orndorff said. "These kids are on varsity now and they're not quite varsity tested and that will hurt.

"But we think they can survive spelling some starters. We want the numbers so we can build things here again ... but we've gone from one of the biggest schools in the league to the smallest. That makes a difference."

The only thing he wants to see the same is the attitude that has lasted through the good times, and the bad.

"This is a fun group. They tolerate each other and they listen," Orndorff said. "They correct their mistakes and they know their roles, too.

"They just have to believe in themselves. If we get beat, it's not going to be because they aren't trying."

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