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Smithsburg nears 1A West playoffs with win

November 08, 2003|by TIM KOELBLE

koelble@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - Smithsburg head coach Buddy Orndorff is a native of Cumberland, Md., and he'll be rooting for Fort Hill in today's season finale against Allegany.

Orndorff's Leopards took care of business on their end Friday with a 27-0 victory over Boonsboro to keep playoff visions in their heads.

In order to get its ticket punched to the Maryland Class 1A West region postseason, Smithsburg must hope that Fort Hill (8-1) disposes of Allegany (5-4). That would earn the Leopards a first-round road match at either Beall or Catoctin. If things work out, Smithsburg would make its first playoff appearance since its 1994 state championship run.

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Orndorff got a soaking on the sidelines from his players as the final seconds ticked off, but managed to temper the excitement in a postgame huddle in which his troops were ready to claim a playoff position.

"Obviously, we'll be hoping that we get together for a normal day of practice Monday," Orndorff said after the Leopards (6-4, 4-2 MVAL Antietam Conference) took the lead in the 37-year-old series, 19-18. "The playoffs are a one-game shootout, and if we're lucky enough maybe we'll get to do it four times."

Smithsburg dominated Boonsboro (1-9, 1-5) in the numbers game with the final score and total yards, but the Leopards did not play up to their expectations as they experienced three lost fumbles and eight penalties.

"We're happy we won but we had too many mistakes with the fumbles and stupid penalties," Orndorff said. "That's also a credit to Boonsboro because they played with enthusiasm."

Brandon White led a 469-yard offensive display with 129 yards rushing on 25 carries. His backfield mate, Matt Fieser, added 91 on 12 carries and each scored a touchdown.

White also contributed a 42-yard punt return for a score and quarterback Nathan Steelman hooked up with tight end Kevin Orsini for a 14-yard score.

But a swarming Smithsburg defense simply put the clamps on Boonsboro, holding the Warriors to 67 net yards rushing on 34 tries and 111 total yards.

Senior defensive tackle Scott White was one of the Leopards who hounded Boonsboro QB Zach Shoemaker and the Warriors 13 times for negative yardage.

"(Boonsboro's) offense was scouted very well and this was a credit to (Fieser) calling out the plays," White said. "We recognized what their guards were doing and our linebackers got there."

White, wearing a smile that seemed to reach from the front end of the school bus to the rear, certainly felt what his teammates did after the contest.

"It feels great winning this game and hopefully getting into the playoffs," he said.

Boonsboro stuffed Brandon White on three runs on the Leopards' first possession of the game.

After that, Brandon White and Fieser went on a tear.

Using White's 25-yard punt return to set up short field position at the Boonsboro 43, the Leopards punched in the first score on White's 2-yard run.

The first of the lost fumbles cost Smithsburg another scoring opportunity inside the 10 but the Leopards put Boonsboro in one of its eight punting efforts and Brandon White proceeded to take the football, side-step two tacklers and ramble to paydirt from 42 yards.

Fieser scored with 4:06 to play in the first half and Steelman's TD pass to Orsini capped a 90-yard drive in seven plays through the latter part of third period and into the fourth. Steelman, who completed 7 of 12 passes for 100 yards, also had a 33-yard completion to Orsini in the drive and a nifty 19-yard slot screen play to Zack Kieffer.

"No weights, no states," Steelman said. "All summer long, we hit the weights. It was important for us as seniors to be ready this year."

Orndorff, at the beginning of the year, thought it would take a 7-3 record to make the playoffs.

"I thought Allegany would have had a better year," Orndorff said. "We'll be happy to get in the playoffs at 6-4. We're a 1A school that plays three 2As and a tough 1A schedule with the MVAL realignment. The kids are deserving of the opportunity with how they worked this summer. And they came back after the Rising Sun loss (22-2)."

Boonsboro had an opportunity midway through the third period to take some of the momentum away from the Leopards when Blaec Ramos ran 92 yards on a punt return touchdown, only to be nullified with a clipping penalty.

Junior James Barnes picked up 65 yards on 16 carries for the the Warriors, who were blanked for the second time this year.

"I thought that hurt our effort, but overall I'm not unhappy with my players," Warriors coach Clayton Anders said. "I didn't think we'd be 1-9 at the beginning of the year, but our schedule was tough and we started with five of our first six games on the road. I thought our effort got better as the year went on."

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