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New success sparks support for North High football team

November 12, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Students at North Hagerstown High School either are mighty proud of their football team or they could care less, depending on who you ask.

But one thing is certain: Having an undefeated football team for the first time in the school's 47-year history has boosted support for the team schoolwide.

"I think it's cool that they've gotten this far because normally our football team stinks," said Rose Nichols, a 10th-grader. "I'm proud of them."

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Sara Austin decorated her car with red ribbons and signs for the last game of the regular season against South Hagerstown last weekend.

"It's my senior year, I've gotta be into it. I want them to win states," she said.

Austin is bummed that she has to work at Valley Mall's food court Friday, when North plays its first postseason playoff game against Allegany County's Fort Hill High School.

But senior Chris Beer, who works full time at Kentucky Fried Chicken, said he doesn't like football that much.

And 10th-grader Britney Smith wasn't even aware that the team went 10-0 and has a shot at winning the state championship.

"It's cool and everything, but we're not really interested," said Smith's classmate, Danielle DuVall.

The last time North's football team made the playoffs, it was 1990, a year before Nirvana released "Smells Like Teen Spirit," its anthem for a generation.

A city school hasn't gone undefeated in the regular season since South High did it in 1962.

The football team's enthusiasm has spilled over to members of the marching band, who were thrilled to watch them win after seeing the team go 2-8 last season.

"You don't get any more spirited. We're there every game," said junior baritone player Ashley Ryder.

Ryder said the team's success inspired her to learn the rules of the game this year.

A winning season also has made the football team appreciate the band this year, Drum Major Johnna Wampole said.

"This year the football team actually likes us. We get 'em pumped up," she said.

Cheerleading captain Megan Greenwald said in other years, she had a hard time getting the fans involved in the game. Not this year.

"Now, it's like everybody's a cheerleader in the stands," she said.

On Tuesday, "Go Hubs!" banners were on display in the main hallway and on the fence around the tennis courts in front of the school.

Newspaper articles from every game this season are taped to a door outside the school's weightlifting room boasting headlines such "Perfection reaching classic level" and "Hubs finish historic run."

"High school students have a tendency to rip things off walls. That hasn't been touched," Assistant Principal Jeremy Jakoby said.

T-shirts boasting the conference championship win will be sold, with half the profits going toward building a stadium at North, which plays its home football games at School Stadium, the field of rival South High.

North's football revival comes at a difficult time for students, who are preoccupied with exams in this last week of the marking period, administrators said.

Because of that, a pep rally for Friday only will be 30 minutes long instead of the usual hour to 90 minutes.

Principal Robert "Bo" Myers said football isn't the center of high school culture like it used to be. There are so many other sports.

Plus, he's trying to keep the emphasis on academics.

"The big thing is it's only one part of what we do. It's helped focus on the good things that are happening here," Myers said.

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