North spells respect B-e-a-t F-o-r-t H-i-l-l

November 16, 2003

What does respect mean to the North Hagerstown football team?

Obviously, quite a bit.

Over the last 20 years or so, the Hubs haven't gotten a lot of it. With only five winning seasons in that stretch of time, that's somewhat understandable.

So, North set out to change things this year and shed a more positive light on its program, which they did to the tune of a 10-0 record in the regular season.

Instant respect? Not quite.

(Pssst ... They had a weak schedule. They didn't play anybody in the regular season. It's North, they can't be that good.)


Granted, North didn't go undefeated in the Mid-Penn Commonwealth, but they weren't exactly beating up on schools the size of Hancock.

The Hubs ran all over their opponents this year. Their defense was stifling all season, allowing just 88 points. And these are the same teams that have been beating the Hubs for the last half eon.

(Pssst ... North used to play Martinsburg, Allegany and Fort Hill all the time ... and beat them once in a while. Unless they beat them, they haven't proven anything.)

The Hubs had their shot Friday night, facing the football empire that is Fort Hill.

A program rich with tradition.

A program that would send a slew of fans to a road playoff game.

A program that had beaten North 13 straight times.

So much for history and tradition.

Instead of coming out intimidated and in awe of Fort Hill, the Hubs came out and smacked the Sentinels in the mouth, scoring 26 straight points in the first half on the way to a 33-13 win.

"I hope this shuts them up," fullback Derrick Keith said.

"We proved that we can play with the best and win," defensive end John Kline said.

"I think we opened some eyes tonight," coach Danny Cunningham said.

Respect? Yes, some. Still others aren't yet impressed.

(Pssst ... North doesn't have a chance against South Carroll. They pass the ball too well. They'll shut down North's running backs.)

All of that remains to be seen. South Carroll will be the Hubs' toughest test of the year. The Cavaliers' passing game could give North fits.

At this point, though, that shouldn't matter. Let's face it, for North to be in the position it's in right now is just this side of a miracle.

Few, if any, outside the players and coaches on the Hubs roster could have imagined that they would be 11-0 and playing for the Class 2A West title.

Few seem to be giving North much of a chance of getting past South Carroll. But is it really prudent to count out an 11-0 team?

Probably not, but the Hubs don't mind the lack of resepct. They've gotten used to it.

"It just seems like we can't get any credit," tailback Bryan Slater said. "Hopefully, (the Fort Hill win) will be the one that does it for us. If not, I hope it's next week.

"If not, we'll just have to win states."

Mark Keller is sports editor of The Herald-Mail. His column appears every Sunday. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2332, or by e-mail at

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