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County rivalries remain tugs-of-war

Leopards, Warriors reverse roles

Leopards, Warriors reverse

Leopards, Warriors reverse roles

November 13, 2005|By MARK KELLER

keller@herald-mail.com

One needs to look no farther back than last season to know that anything can happen when Boonsboro and Smithsburg take the field to close the football season.

Smithsburg entered the 2004 game at 8-1 and were cruising to a Class 1A West playoff spot. Boonsboro had struggled to get to 3-6, with nothing to look forward to but playing its main rival.

Of course, Boonsboro won the game 36-30 and evened up the series record at 19-19.

In 2005, the roles are reversed. This year, the Warriors (7-2) are the team with plans beyond today's game at Boonsboro. With their first playoff in four years already in hand, the Warriors are playing the role of the favorite.

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Boonsboro also has something else to play for. Having already clinched a share of the MVAL Antietam title, the Warriors could win their first outright league title since 1993 with a victory tonight.

But danger could lie ahead for Boonsboro. The Leopards (3-6) have won three of their last four games after an 0-5 start. And there's that whole idea of exacting a bit of revenge for last year's loss.

The Leopards are led offensively by senior running back Justin Thompson, a Herald-Mail All-Area First Team selection a year ago who got untracked four weeks ago against South Hagerstown.

Thompson ran for 237 yards in that game and has tallied nearly 1,000 yards on the ground in the last four games.

Quarterback Andrew Bohan has thrown for 870 yards and eight touchdowns, with the majority of his completions - 51 of 57 - going to one of three receivers: Dustin Mitchell, Chris Brown and Matt Thompson.

But the Smithsburg offense will face a stern test against Boonsboro. The Warriors defense is on a record-setting pace in the MVAL Antietam this year, giving up just 29 points in six conference games - all wins. The Warriors also have recorded five defensive touchdowns and a safety this season.

The player who spearheads the Boonsboro defense also makes the offense go. Quarterback/defensive back Zach Shoemaker has made more interceptions defensively (five) than he has thrown offensively (four). He has thrown for 511 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for four more scores.

The strength of the Warriors offense is the running game, led by fullback Adam Rippeon. Rippeon was slowed by injuries the first half of the season, but he has become the Warriors' workhorse in the second half, carrying 59 times for 422 yards and eight touchdowns in the last four games.

Kyle Kane (495 yards, 3 TDs) and Ryan McClean (278 yards, 4 TDs) - who was brought up to the varsity squad in part because of Rippeon's injuries - give Boonsboro a pair of outside threats.

Shoemaker doesn't throw often, but when he does, he spreads it around. No receiver has more than seven receptions, but five players have at least four catches.

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