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Rebels first take city title, now get ready for playoffs

November 11, 2002|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Entering Friday night's game, there was a slim possibility South Hagerstown could be left out of the Class 1A playoffs if it lost to North Hagerstown in the Hagerstown Gridiron Championship Classic.

Not wanting to leave anything to chance, the Rebels pounced on an early opportunity and never let up, beating the Hubs 39-0 at School Stadium in the 46th meeting between the schools and locking up tight their first postseason berth.

"We're very proud to be the first," South receiver Antoine Cooper said. "We'll try to represent our school the best we can and try to go all the way."

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David Miner completed all six passes he threw in the second half, including three for touchdowns, to break the game open and give the Rebels plenty of momentum going into their first Week 11.

"We wanted to win the game, first of all," South coach Greg Kellick said. "But if you go out and barely win, you've got to fix a lot of things and you're worried about everything that went on. This way, we go in with a very nice win and if there was anybody here scouting us, we gave them something to look at."

It took just over two minutes for South (7-3, 7-2 Monocacy Valley Athletic League) to gain control of the game. After the defense held North on its first possession, Hubs punter Kyle Robinson couldn't handle a high snap. South's Josh Bussard scooped up the loose ball and scampered 24 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

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"Any time you spot them an early touchdown it's trouble," said North coach Danny Cunningham. "It's tough to play catch-up with a team of that caliber."

The Hubs (2-8, 2-7) held their own throughout the first half. Following a 10-yard second-quarter touchdown by Jamel Smith that put the Rebels ahead 13-0, North marched the ball down to the South 24-yard line. But a holding penalty backed up the Hubs to the 35, and a Quielan Gantt-to-Derrick Keith pass on fourth down fell short in the final minute of the first half.

"We were sloppy in the first half, and some of that may have been because they played well in the first half," Kellick said. "If we hadn't gotten that fumble or they don't get that penalty, we could very easily have been down 7-6 at halftime."

South raised the level of play in the second half, led by Miner. The junior quarterback sandwiched first-down passes to Matt Reichert around a 31-yard run by Cooper to get the Rebels inside the North 25. On first down, Miner scrambled to buy time and released a pass just as he was leveled by Keith Singleton.

Singleton was celebrating his hit until he turned around to see Reichert had hauled in the pass for a 23-yard touchdown.

The second half continued in that fashion for the Hubs. Miner returned a punt 44 yards to the North 21, then connected with Ben Mertz on two straight passes for a 26-0 lead.

"We did a good job of shutting down the run, but Miner made some good reads on our secondary and made some great passes," Cunningham said.

The Hubs had their best chance to get on the scoreboard late in the third quarter. They punded the ball inside the South 10 on the power of running backs Bobby Waugh and Derrick Keith.

But the Rebels defense stiffened on third-and-goal, dropping Waugh for a 1-yard loss and Gantt for a 6-yard loss after he fumbled the fourth-down snap.

The win capped one of the most successful seasons in years for the Rebels.

They finished second in the MVAL standings, their best finish since joining the league in 1989. South's 7-3 record was its best since 1990 and gives the Rebels three straight winning seasons, the first time that's happened since they put together four straight from 1961-64.

The 39-point margin of victory was the largest in series history and the 39 points scored by the Rebels matches the most scored by one team in the series. South recorded a 39-6 win in 1965.

The Rebels lead the series 24-21-1.

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