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For Rebels, new is good

November 22, 2002|by MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

It's nearly unanimous: This isn't your typical South Hagerstown football team.

A simple look at the numbers and the facts proves that.

  • South (8-3) clinched its first playoff berth this season, which it turned into its first trip to the state semifinals with a 42-0 win over Dunbar in the Class 1A quarters Saturday.

  • The Rebels' third straight winning season marks the first time South has had such a streak since 1961-64.

  • The 112 points allowed by the South defense is the best per game average for the team since 1967.

  • Their 269 points scored is the most in school history. The 227 scored in 10 regular season games is fourth-best.


South has made its share of impressions in the last three weeks, on teams they've already faced and teams yet to come on the schedule.

"South Hagerstown is a very impressive team," said Beall coach Roy DeVore, whose team plays host to the Rebels tonight in the 1A semifinals. "They have excellent athletes, an excellent nose guard and linemen. They're a big-play team, and we're going to have to play an excellent football game to beat them."

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While the Rebels may have been a surprise to some, they haven't necessarily surprised themselves. From the first day of summer practices in August, coach Greg Kellick made a seven-win season and a playoff bid the team's primary goal.

The players, however, were thinking bigger.

"They're saying, 'Why not eight or nine?'" Kellick said in the preseason. "I told them to get to seven, then we'll worry about the others."

South got to the seven-win mark the final week of the season with a 39-0 win over North Hagerstown. It was the largest margin of victory in the history of the series and earned the city just its second playoff berth since the state tournament began in 1974.

North qualified for the postseason in 1990, when Hubs coach Danny Cunningham was the team's quarterback.

"We wish we could have played spoiler like we did a couple of years ago," Cunningham said following the North-South game. "But South is a solid team and I'd like to see them bring a title back to Hagerstown."

Middletown coach Tim Ambrose has been one of South's biggest advocates recently. Three weeks ago, his Knights weathered a late rally to beat the Rebels 26-25 by denying a last-second two-point conversion.

"That's the best team South has had in years," Ambrose said after that win. "They've got good numbers and they've got good size. That's a good team that we just beat."

He echoed those sentiments on Tuesday at the MPSSAA press luncheon at Ravens Stadium in Baltimore.

"South has a real shot to win that title," Ambrose said. "With their speed and their line, they're going to be tough."

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