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Rebels facing aerial assault

November 15, 2002|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - South Hagerstown football coach Greg Kellick is going to find out just how far his defensive backfield has progressed this season.

Seen as a possible weakness in the preseason, the secondary stepped up to the challenge as the Rebels allowed just five passing touchdowns all season - none in their final three games.

That unit will be tested again Saturday afternoon as South takes on Dunbar at Baltimore Polytechnic High School in the school's first playoff football game.

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"From the film I saw, (Dunbar) goes out of a pro formation, throw it up and let their receivers run under the ball," Kellick said. "There were a lot of three-step drops and throw a fade pattern."

Dunbar (8-2) is a team known for being quick and athletic. They have two receivers - Herman Hayes and Larry Dixon - each with over 30 receptions and 600 yards. Hayes has 10 TD catches.

But with players like David Miner, Antoine Cooper, Jamel Smith and Antwan Jones in the secondary, the Rebels (7-3) might be able to match the Poets stride for stride ... and leap for leap.

"When you run those kind of short drops and long patterns, there's a lot of air under the ball," Kellick said. "If we can put a guy like Miner or Cooper on somebody and go up for some of those jump balls, I like our chances."

Unlike teams in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League - where teams are run first, pass second - Kellick said Dunbar will look to throw first. That knowledge will keep the secondary back in coverage and place the onus of stopping the running game on the defensive line.

"They can't come up and play the run," Kellick said. "Their plan is to throw 50 to 60 percent of the time. That should keep us back."

The short drops will also make it tougher for defensive end Donnie Gatrell to get to the quarterback. His nine sacks this season put him among the leaders in the area.

Instead, Gatrell, Clayton Swisher and the rest of the front five of the Rebels will try to get as much pressure as they can in a short time on quarterback Byron Selby while containing the run.

"They do try to set some things up. There is some rhyme to what they do offensively," Kellick said. "They're not just lining up and throwing. They have a scheme behind what they are doing."

Defensively, the Poets allowed 143 points this season, but that figure is skewed by a 55-14 loss two weeks ago to Gilman, the No. 1 team in the state.

The South offense has performed well since the second half of the Catoctin game, scoring 105 points in their final 14 quarters of the season. Miner has been particularly good, throwing for over 100 yards in three of the last four games and five touchdowns in the last two games.

South implemented a power-I formation package before the Middletown game and could use it on occasion Saturday, but Kellick said the Rebels will work primarily out of the option with Smith and Mike Campbell lined up behind Miner.

"If they line up in the defense we saw, the option set could work, especially the dive part of it," Kellick said. "The linebackers weren't flowing to the ball like we see in our league. That can help open up the pass, too."

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