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South no match for Catoctin

October 28, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

THURMONT, Md. - It was the biggest game of the season for the Catoctin football team, but it still didn't mean all that much.

The Cougars were in the middle of it all - a critical game to break a tie for the MVAL Antietam lead, Homecoming, a post-game fireworks show, bonfire and dance. Still, it all had its place.

It was a different world for coach Doug Williams and no one could fault his Cougars if they were with him. The time for celebration was coated with mourning.

And yet, the Cougars displayed an uncanny amount of focus and precision for the task at hand on Friday as fullback Bobby Groft rushed for 166 yards and four touchdowns - all in the second quarter - for Catoctin in a 52-14 dismantling of No. 6 South Hagerstown to claim the outright Antietam lead.

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It was some slight solace for Williams, who used the game as a diversion. Williams' infant daughter died of complications on Tuesday. Her death was the second of four suffered by family members of the Catoctin High faculty, each coming on consecutive days.

The Cougars, who wore white armbands, attended the Williams viewing on Thursday.

Williams decided to come to the game, almost in the last minute. He didn't attend practice all week, turning the duties over to assistants Paul Dumars, Guy Nesbitt and Jim Eckenrode to prepare the Cougars. Williams only chose to come when his wife - who also attended - gave him permission to attend.

"It's not about me. It's the kids," Williams said. "I thought this would all be a distraction, but obviously it wasn't. These kids ... their special ... they showed a tremendous amount of focus. This was a huge game - our biggest one so far - and South always plays us tough."

In a steady downpour and on a slick and muddy field, Catoctin came out and took care of business, for any one or all reasons. It started as the Cougars stoned South tailback Tony Bender on big hits for losses in two of the first three plays.

And then the offense took over.

"Those plays were big, but it was a very long game," Williams said. "The defense this year has set the tone for us."

Catoctin (7-1, 5-0), reverting from its spread passing game back to its double wing formation, bulled its way though South's defense. Quarterback D.J. Doyle ran 18 yards around left end for the first score and a 6-0 lead.

"These conditions were ideal for them," said South coach Greg Kellick. "We expected it to be cold, but I didn't expect the rain. We practiced for the spread stuff all week. We felt we could contain their running game. But they are much more physical than we thought up front and the rain took our speed away."

South (4-4, 4-1) answered with a 27-yard TD run by Bender to tie the score at 6-6 after the first quarter.

Then, Groft took over. The senior fullback scored on runs of 7, 1, 3 and 3 yards - the last three coming in the final 2:09 of the half - to move Catoctin to a 34-6 lead at intermission. He had 13 carries for 80 yards in the quarter.

"We were trying to make it so they had to use the fullback to beat us," Kellick said. "They found a seam and kept going at it. It's tough to fix during the game. We have been playing an attack defense, but we were forced to stay and read, which is something we're not used to doing."

Catoctin rolled up 273 yards of offense and 16 first downs in the first half, compared to 36 yards and two first downs for South.

The Cougars scored off the second-half kickoff on an eight-play drive capped by Nick Stiles 6-yard run and then took a 46-6 lead after Sean Chilson's 12-yard score.

South's Eric Phillips - who rushed for 104 yards in the second half - got the Rebels on the board with a 13-yard score, but Catoctin countered with a 49-yard run up the middle by Kyle Sanders for their final score with 7:17 remaining.

Despite all the turmoil, Catoctin posted 418 yards of offense, 378 on the ground. Doyle added 77 yards.

"I was a spectator tonight," Williams said. "I didn't call any plays ... I just watched. We were vanilla today, but that's what the coach wanted. It's a credit to the players and my coaches."

South finished with 163 yards, all on the ground, and lost three fumbles.

"They whipped us. Standing here, coming into today, I really wanted to beat them," Kellick said. "But with the week they had ... Now they have a big weekend and a nice game. I think this is what they needed. I got a feeling the Man upstairs felt the same way."

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