South's playoff hopes crash

November 11, 2000|By BOB PARASILITI

South's playoff hopes crash

South Hagerstown's season of irony ended with the cruelest twist of all.

The Rebels took the field Friday for the 44th renewal of the City Game as the featured guests of the party. They ended the evening as the subject of a wake.

South Hagerstown's dream season filled with visions of Maryland state playoffs, an uncontested high finish in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League standings and an end to a two-game losing streak to their cross-town rivals ended with a thud.

The bubble burst with the final whistle in a 7-6 loss to North Hagerstown. And with it went the edgy anticipation of waiting for the school's first-ever playoff berth and feeling of accomplishment that goes with winning a game against a long-time rival.


Instead of cheers, there was deafening silence.

"It's like I told the kids, you are gonna hurt," South coach Greg Kellick said. "We have had a lot of highs, this is a low. In a week, all the good things that happened this year will come up front, but for now, you will feel this."

It was a little soon for the Rebels to think about accomplishments when an unsuspected failure sat staring them in the face. It was all tears, no cheers.

There wasn't any time to remember the biggest irony - after finishing the 1999 season as an 0-10 doormat, South had the local community talking about the postseason. A lot of teams were now looking up at the Rebels with their 6-4 record and 600 percent improvement in just one season.

"If someone would have told me that we would have been entering this game in this situation, I wouldn't have believed them," Kellick said.

When it came down to it, ironically the wind took the air out of the Rebels.

A prevailing 15 mph wind took away half of South's offensive gameplan and North's defense controlled the rest. The Rebels looked to pass the ball to create big plays, the major nemesis of the Hubs all season long. The wind blew away that option.

And slowly but surely, the Hubs used the weather to their advantage.

The more North grounded out yards on offense, the more time went off the clock. With each passing second, the celebration of the Rebels faithful which jammed the visiting stands got quieter and quieter.

And when the end was near, the crowd was leaving ... and so was South's dream trip to the playoffs.

"We just kept telling the kids that if we didn't win there wasn't going to be any playoffs," Kellick said. "It was a tough job convincing them of it with others telling them things about the playoffs."

Even in this wake of a finish, Kellick could swallow his disappointment for a little celebration, almost as if he was setting a party date for next year.

"We've always said that we wanted to reach the point to make the playoffs," Kellick said. "This year, we had a couple of slips - losing to Greencastle and the loss to Walkersville. We just have to say we can't let those slip away. Next year, we'll have to try a little bit harder."

And then it will be time to party.

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