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Hancock bows out in blowout

November 15, 2003|by CURT HORNBECKER

THURMONT, Md. - What once were dreams now are delusions of grandeur.

The Hancock football team had visions of a long, methodical march to the state championship, using a power-oriented ground game to gain substantial yardage by blasting huge holes in the opposing defense.

But the Panthers' ground game came to a grinding halt at the hands of the Catoctin defense Friday night, as Cougars claimed a 42-0 victory in the Maryland Class 1A West semifinals.

Catoctin will travel to Beall next weekend to decide the regional championship. Beall beat Smithsburg 28-7 Friday night.

The loss marks the end of Bill Sterner's five-year coaching career at Hancock. Sterner announced his retirement before the start of the season.

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"The football program is on solid ground now," Sterner said. "And no matter who takes over, I'll be able to help make sure it stays that way as the athletic director."

Cougars coach Doug Williams was confident that his defense would play well against Hancock (6-5), but he was less optimistic about the offense. Those doubts quickly were dispelled as Catoctin scored on its third play from scrimmage. The Cougars scored on their first six possessions.

"I was concerned if our offense would show up tonight," Williams said. "I knew we'd play well defensively; our defense has been playing well the last few weeks. But right from the get-go, our offense started to execute."

Catoctin (8-3) finished with 444 yards rushing on 47 carries, with Dave Burrier accounting for 162 of those yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries.

"When you have a line like our line, anyone can run through those holes," Burrier said. "That's got to be one of the best lines in the state."

It was Burrier who got the Cougars on the scoreboard first, with a 74-yard sweep down the right sideline.

"For the brand of football we play, we have good speed," Sterner said. "Other coaches told me during the season that we could really run. But (the Cougars) have a lot more speed than we do. We just couldn't match up with them."

When the first of three turnovers cut short the Panthers' second possession, Catoctin gained 51 yards on its next two plays before Burrier scored his second TD on a 5-yard burst for a 14-0 lead.

An eight-play, 60-yard drive with Joe Rakoski carrying the final 4 yards made it 21-0 before Burrier's third score from 29 yards out.

Hancock couldn't get anything going offensively, gaining just 74 yards on the ground and 89 yards total. Workhorses Josh Ruppenthal and Jordan Sterner combined for 15 rushes and 57 yards.

Burrier's final TD, covering 8 yards, ended the first half with Catoctin ahead 35-0.

On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Adam Venables finished the scoring with a 76-yard sweep down the right sideline.

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