Leopards, Warriors meet again

November 06, 2004|by DAN KAUFFMAN

One team is a week away from a playoff game. The other would like to end an often difficult season with a win to be proud of.

Yet when Smithsburg (8-1, 5-1) hosts Boonsboro (3-6, 3-3) this afternoon in the 38th installment of the rivalry which the Leopards lead 19-18, records will mean little.

"It's always been the classic rivalry," Leopards coach Buddy Orndorff said. "There's been years we've had great teams and they've beaten us, and years they've had great teams and we've beaten them. Your record doesn't mean anything, it's a pride thing."


"It is one of our big rivalries with it being a traditional game for a long time," Warriors coach Clayton Anders said. "It has special meaning. We know Smithsburg is going to advance to the playoffs, and we want to feel good about what we do. We want to show up to play. We want to make sure (our) guys understand they have everything to gain."

More than rivalry bragging rights is on the line for Smithsburg, which sits second in the Maryland Class 1A West ratings behind Allegany. A Smithsburg win and an Allegany loss to its rival - Fort Hill, the top-rated team in Class 2A West - could lead to the Leopards earning the No. 1 seed depending on how all the bonus points work out.

Rooting for Fort Hill won't be a problem for Orndorff, a Sentinels alum who said he will be missing the Cumberland clash for the first time in more than a decade.

"It comes down to we have to win this ball game, and Allegany has to lose and a couple other scenarios have to happen for us to have home-field advantage two games in row, which I would love for all of our fans," Orndorff said.

"But it's Boonsboro, that's what we've emphasized all week. It just comes down to playing the game. ... I'm sure they'd love nothing more than to knock us off. That would make their season. I'd feel the same way if the situation was reversed. They've just been unfortunate not to have had a winning season."

Smithsburg's top weapon has been running back Justin Thompson, who has rushed for 1,148 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 8.1 yards per carry. Matt Feiser has 850 yards and 10 touchdowns rushing, averaging 10.2 yards per carry.

Quarterback Josh Daniels has completed 42 of 77 passes for 835 yards and seven scores. Dustin Mitchell has 20 receptions for 365 yards.

"We're gonna play our game, run the ball the best we can, throw the ball and take advantage of whatever Boonsboro's giving us defensively." Orndorff said. "We've won some games throwing the ball, but most games we've won running. We feel confident throwing the ball, moreso this year than in a long time."

Boonsboro will counter with the runnng of James Barnes (651 yards, 6.9 average, 12 touchdowns) and the combo of quarterback Zach Shoemaker (55-for-121, 881 yards, seven TDs) and receiver Josh Lewis (22 catches, 439 yards, four TDs).

Anders believes things will be decided in the trenches.

"It doesn't matter what level of football you're at, you have to have some semblance of control at the line of scrimmage," Anders said. "It doesn't matter what we line up in offensively, if we don't control the point of attack, our kids won't have much success. We have to make sure whoever's assigned to the (key) block, we have to get there."

Winning that battle will be difficult against Smithsburg's fast defense, keyed by Feiser at his linebacker spot.

"We're just going to show up and play defense, try to take away what they do best and make them work for what they get," Orndorff said. "Boonsboro's going to be be exceptionally hard to defend, they shotgun a lot now and (Shoemaker) throws the ball well and has a lot of good receivers. It's not going to be an easy game."

The winner will have achieved more than just a victory over a rival. For Smithsburg, it's a chance to gain some momentum heading into - and possibly two rounds of home cooking in - the playoffs. For Boonsboro, it's a chance for the Warriors to win four of their final five games and finish with a winning MVAL Antietam record.

"Winning the last ballgame of the year is always a good thing," Anders said. "It helps the seniors feel good about the season, and it gives direction to your freshmen. At the beginning of the season, maybe things didn't go as well as planned, but it gives you some sense of accomplishment if you can point and say, 'We did this.' It'd certainly be a big win."

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