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Johnson, Sumlin lead new team over old

November 11, 2006|by BOB PARASILITI

In a strange sort of way, Diez Johnson and Marcellus Sumlin finished with a 1-1 record on Friday.

Their actions brought on all the bravado and emotions that go with success. But still, in the back of their minds, each of them had this slight twinge of remorse.

Johnson and Sumlin combined for five touchdowns to lead North Hagerstown to a deceivingly hard-fought 44-0 victory over South Hagerstown in the 50th edition of the city championship. It was a good feeling, and a weird one, all at the same time.

The pair have been important cogs in North's run to a tie for the MVAL Antietam title. That's the good feeling.

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But they used to play for South Hagerstown before transferring across town for various reasons. That's the rough feeling.

"I thought playing would be fun. I'd be going against old friends," said Johnson, who rushed for 88 yards and three touchdowns. "It was good to see my old coaches, too. It was fun, but it was weird."

It used to be that Johnson and Sumlin would see red. Now, they were wearing it.

It used to be keen to be green. But now, the only green they wore were the grass stains on their jerseys.

"I've been waiting all year for this game," said Sumlin, who rushed for 21 yards and a TD before scoring on a 47-yard interception return. "To come back and play against my old team. I talked to some of (the South players) during the week. This is a good feeling."

The first half was a defensive struggle as North moved cautiously and South methodically to establish an advantage. The Hubs had one thing on their side, a big-play explosiveness for quick scores, that Johnson and Sumlin helped bring to the table.

When the game started, the mixed loyalties got left in the locker.

"I forgot about it on the first play ... the kickoff," Johnson said. "It was time to get focused."

Johnson showed big-time focus midway through the second quarter when North got on the scoreboard and wedged some distance from the Rebels. The junior ran up the middle at the 3, right into a green brick wall. He bounced off the wall and turned the play into a sweep around right end for the touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

"I tried to hit the hole but it was blocked up," Johnson said. "I bounced out. I was a little surprised it was so easy, but once I saw it, I knew I would score."

It was the pressure release the Hubs needed.

"When we got the first score, it pumped me up," Sumlin said. "It feels good winning as a senior. It gives you some bragging rights, but still, this is a little tough. You gotta do what you gotta do."

Sumlin added his touchdown after North recovered a South fumble to start the second half. The Hubs drove 34 yards, capped by his 2-yard run for a 14-0 lead.

It was a score that started to knock some starch out of the Rebels.

Johnson scored on a 4-yard run for a 23-0 lead in the final minute of the third quarter. The Rebels' wheels came off when Sumlin weaved through the field for his interception-return touchdown before Johnson capped the game with a 36-yard run up the middle with 6 minutes remaining.

On the other side of the field, South coach Greg Kellick could only wonder what could have been.

"You sit there and think what a difference practice would have been this week and what this season would have been like if they were on this sideline," he said.

That's for another time and another debate. For whatever reason, tough decisions, fate and destiny moved Johnson and Sumlin to the north side of town.

The pair has thought about it all. Their memories have been covered with the celebration of victory, at least for this day.

The Hubs were anticipating the playoffs while the Rebels were anticipating handing in their uniforms.

"We gotta forget this one and get our heads back for Monday," Sumlin said. "We gotta get back to work."

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