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Hancock wins sixth, looks to postseason

November 08, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER

HANCOCK - Bill Sterner thought he had it all figured out.

He'd go out in style. His team would win big, his offense would gain more than 300 yards on the ground and his son would rush for at least 100 yards and a few touchdowns. Then, he could hang up his whistle and retire to a life of leisure.

It was the perfect plan, except for the retirement thing. That might have to wait at least a week, since his Hancock football team's 49-7 thrashing of Bishop Walsh Friday night likely propelled the Panthers into the Maryland Class 1A West regional tournament, the school's second playoff appearance and first since 1986.

The only way that Hancock's season will not be extended is if Allegany defeats Fort Hill today. Assuming that doesn't take place, the Panthers (6-4) will face either Beall or Catoctin on the road next weekend.

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"I told the kids, 'You're not going to extend this thing for me, are you? I've had this day marked on the calendar for a long time,'" Sterner said. "But as long as they keep playing, I'll go along for the ride. For a small school to still be playing after 10 games is something special."

The Panthers' powerful ground game proved more than Bishop Walsh (3-7) could handle, with Jordan Sterner and Josh Rupenthal providing the punishing inside attack, while Kenny Clark's speed delivered a threat on the outside. That trio accounted for 266 of Hancock's 341 yards rushing, with Sterner's 107 yards on 18 carries leading the way.

Sterner also picked off one of the Spartans' 44 passes and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown to deny Bishop Walsh its second touchdown of the game and all but seal the deal for the Panthers.

"They were driving down the field, and I told the team we needed a pick or a fumble," Jordan Sterner said. "I was starting to get the hang of what (Bishop Walsh quarterback Chris Henderson) was doing and I just broke on it. About 15 yards down the field, I thought I could take it in."

The Spartans provided a unique challenge for Hancock's defense. Bishop Walsh rushed the ball only once all night, on a 1-yard keeper for a touchdown. The rest of its rushing yardage (minus-23 yards for the game) came as a result of Henderson scrambling or being sacked.

Sophomore quarterback Jaret Trail got the Panthers (6-4) on the board midway through the first period on a 1-yard sneak. Sterner made it 14-0 early in the second quarter on a 6-yard run.

Ryan Joy, who finished with 64 yards and two scores on three carries, rounded out Hancock's first-half scoring on a 34-yard jaunt.

Two more scores by Sterner, a 7-yard Rupenthal run and Joy's second TD rounded out the scoring for Hancock.

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