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For Hubs, it's the Super bowl

November 07, 2002|by MARK KELLER

keller@herlad-mail.com

Talking to Greg Kellick and Danny Cunningham, there's no denying that the North-South game is as big as it's always been for these two coaches and their teams.

There is, however, one distinct difference this season.

For the Cunningham and the Hubs, Friday night's 46th renewal of the city series is as big as it gets for the 2002 season.

For Kellick and the Rebels, they will only get bigger from here.

Barring a sizable and unlikely chain of events, the Rebels (6-3) will be headed to their first playoff berth whether they beat North on Friday or not.

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The Hubs (2-7) will pack up their gear until August of 2003 following the Hagerstown Gridiron Championship Classic.

"It's just our Super Bowl, our big game," Cunningham said. "With the woes of a 2-7 season, this could change everything and help us to look at the year in a different light."

Just two weeks ago, following the Hubs' win over Smithsburg, Cunningham delighted in knowing that North could again play a part in South's playoff destiny.

In 2000, when Cunningham was an assistant coach under Glenn Cross, the Hubs knocked off South 7-6 in the season finale to deny the Rebels a playoff berth.

Circumstances probably won't allow the Hubs to ruin South's party this year, but that doesn't make the game any less important to Cunningham, who's torn between using the game as a building block for his returning players and a sendoff for his seniors.

"It's about half and half," Cunningham said. "You want to see the seniors go out on a winning note, but for those young guys, it's a lesson.

"This is North-South, and that's totally different from anything else they've done this year."

Cunningham said he's seen little change within the school since the city's announcement that it will award a trophy to the winning school following Friday's game.

"Right now, it's still not that big a deal around our school," Cunningham said. "There used to be spirit days and pep rallies. Right now, to them, it's just another game."

Kellick said there has been some added excitement inside the walls of South, but not necessarily becuse of the North-South game.

"I think a lot of the excitement is about the playoffs," Kellick said. "The regular excitement for North-South is there, but for the kids in school, they're getting excited about the playoffs."

Cunningham said he wasn't upset that the Hubs would not decide the Rebels' playoff fate. In fact, he was congratulatory toward South and, in particular, Kellick.

"They've earned the spot. They're there for a reason, and that's that they're a good football team," Cunningham said. "I'm real happy for Kell, too. I've got a lot of respect for him and what he's done there."

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