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Knights march east with 2A title in view

November 29, 2002|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - For 17 seniors, today will mark the end of their scholastic football career.

They have an opportunity to do what so few are able to accomplish - ending the year with a victory and a state championship.

All the stringent two-a-day workouts, tedious practices, weightlifting hours and competitive games boil down to a 3 p.m. kickoff at Ravens Stadium when Middletown meets Hereford for the Class 2A crown.

"This is the game we have been looking forward to," coach Tim Ambrose said. "This level is the highest of all."

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Led by Josh Keeney and fellow co-captains Adam Ellison, Bryan DeMoss and Ryan Cutsail, the Knights will march into their third state title game seeking to bring home the title for the first time.

Other seniors include Chris Linehan, John Boyle, Nick Fogle, Will Gawler, Bobby Gilligan, Shawn Stotelmyer, Dale Palmer, Brian Cosgray, Troy Birkenbuel, Dan Meinders, Darin Mills, Josh Wolf and David Haertel. All will wear the black and orange for the final time.

The Knights (11-1) powered past Wicomico 35-0, while defending 2A champion Hereford (12-0) rolled over Edmondson to set up the finale.

Keeney rushed for 179 yards in a little more than one half as the Knights dominated both sides of scrimmage against an undermanned Wicomico team.

Things are likely to be different today.

"When you reach this level in the finals, you are going to play against a formidable team like Hereford," Ambrose said. "Steve (Hereford coach Steve Turnbaugh) has a committment with his program and has done a great job."

Hereford has been in the playoffs each year since 1996 and won the title in 1997.

The Bulls average more than 300 yards and 39 points per game offensively from their wing-T offense. But those numbers are the same ones Middletown looked at with Wicomico.

Two running backs share the spotlight for Hereford. Fullback Adam Goldboski (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) gained nearly 1,800 yards during the regular season and tallied 25 touchdowns. Halfback Pat Butt (5-10, 183) picked up almost 1,200 yards.

Defensively, the Bulls run a five-man front, supported by standout linebackers Goldboski and hard-hitting Nate Wdowiak (5-11, 220).

"We played well against Wicomico in most areas," Ambrose said. "But we need to cut down on the penalties that we had. Hereford is very big in size on offense and they have two good backs."

Excitement in the Knights camp? You bet, excitement that's continued to build since the final game of the regular season against Walkersville.

"There was a certain level of excitement among the players after that game," Ambrose said. "Then, before the Glenelg game I told them that character, focus and desire are the things that will get you through life. After the game there was another level of excitement."

Ambrose said he reminded them of those important factors last week, much as he has done previously and will do this week.

"Playing in Ravens Stadium will be remembered the rest of their lives and I'll always remember this one as a coach," said Ambrose. "It will be the same for everyone on the team."

He pointed out a player such as senior Meinders. "He's been playing football and been here every practice, and hasn't played the total of one full quarter this year, but he'll remember this just like Keeney and the others."

There's a post-game team dinner scheduled for 7. The Knights certainly hope it is a celebatory dinner.

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