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Hubs finish historic run

November 08, 2003|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

The clock ran down to 0:00, opening the starting gate for North Hagerstown's players and fans to start storming the School Stadium field.

In days gone by, it just would have been a party if the Hubs had defeated South Hagerstown in the city rivalry. Back then, it was always a positive end to an otherwise trying season.

This time it was different ... far different. The Hubs' 41-0 drubbing of the Rebels was far more important than an emotional Band-Aid. It was jubilation. It was history. It was 10-0 perfection and a guaranteed berth in the Maryland Class 2A West region playoffs.

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"We've seen a lot of highs and lows here ... a lot of lows. This feels a lot better," North coach Danny Cunningham said. "To see the looks in the eyes of the guys. To see them smile and watch their faces light up. That's what it's all about.

"We were joking around. And now we are 10-0. You know, 10-0 is a whole lot better."

Cunningham would know after spending years at North Hagerstown as a player, an assistant coach and, now, the third-year head coach. It was well worth savoring.

The grounds and track around School Stadium were littered with paper signs and confetti that made the whole scene look like the Mummers' Parade. This was bigger, though. It was the completion of the Hubs' march to a perfect regular-season record, the best in school history.

Families took photos with and of their sons to remember the night that they were an unchangeable part of North Hagerstown history.

The Hagerstown Gridiron Championship Classic trophy was like winning the Stanley Cup for the Hubs, who took turns carrying the hardware and posing for pictures with it like champion hockey players.

To top it all off, the Hubs prolonged their season for at least one more game - a round-of-16 matchup in the 2A state playoffs.

The finishing touch of the celebration came at midfield as the two teams congratulated each other. Cunningham shook hands with South coach Greg Kellick to complete the passing of the torch.

Last year, the handshake sent the Rebels to the playoffs. This year, it was the Hubs' turn.

"This is great for the city of Hagerstown to have back-to-back teams reach the state playoffs," Cunningham said. "For a while, we didn't have anyone going. Now South did it last year and now we are going this year."

For Kellick, it was bitter and bittersweet at the same time, thanks to the memories of last season.

"(North) should be higher than a kite right now," Kellick said. "Everybody from North, South, Boonsboro, Williamsport and all the fans in Washington County should be pulling for them. To go 10-0 is a big thing - it's only the second time in 40-some years in Hagerstown. That's a lot of ball games. I feel bad for our kids but I feel real good for them."

And North Hagerstown is feeling real good today. The playoffs were already assured, but it would have been little consolation if the Hubs had lost to South on Friday.

"If they had beat us in this game, the whole season would have been ruined," said North tailback Bryan Slater, who rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns. "There is no way we wanted to let them win.

"Now we have won the conference championship and the city championship. Now we want the Maryland state championship."

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