Hubs set for a shootout at FSK

November 17, 2006|by MARK KELLER

When asked to describe the Francis Scott Key football team, North Hagerstown coach Danny Cunningham likened the Eagles to two teams the Hubs have already faced this season.

"They have Thomas Johnson's size and Frederick's speed," Cunningham said.

On the surface, that would appear to be a disadvantage for the Hubs, who lost to those two teams in back-to-back weeks early in the 2006 season. But it's safe to say North is a much better team going into its Maryland Class 2A West semifinal game at FSK tonight than it was going in to either of those September nonconference matchups.

The Hubs (7-3) enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak and in the midst of a scoring binge, putting up no fewer than 44 points in each of their last three games.

By sheer coincidence, the Eagles (7-3) gave up 44 points to Winters Mill in their regular-season finale last week.


Both teams have shown the ability to score points, leading Cunningham to believe the Hubs could be in for a shootout similar to the one they played two weeks ago, a 49-36 win over Catoctin.

"We'd be happy with that. They're just so big, you can't teach their size," Cunningham said. "Their size is just ... they're big, flat-out big. And strong."

Indeed, the Eagles are big. The offensive line features two 6-foot-5, 280-pounders and a 6-7, 300-pounder opening holes for running backs Brad Martz and Tyler Bridges and protecting quarterback Chris Kolb.

Kolb did not play in the Eagles' loss to Winters Mill last week while nursing an injured shoulder.

The Hubs will rely more on quickness on the defensive side to counteract the size disadvantage.

"We'll have to play some games and try to create some mismatches on the line," Cunningham said. "I don't think they do anything that we can't stop. We'll just try to create our matchups and change some of our defensive fronts."

Cunningham is less worried about his own offense, which has been purring along the last three weeks, rolling up 1,046 yards from scrimmage. While the Hubs have spread the wealth in those games, some individuals have stood out.

· Diez Johnson has 346 yards and five touchdowns on 46 carries over that span;

· Justin Donaldson, who seems to make a big play every time he touches the ball, has 137 rushing yards and five touchdowns on just 11 carries;

· Logan Kelso has completed 21 of 31 passes for 303 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

"We'll take our chances in a shootout," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said he feels good about the Hubs' chances if the game goes a different way, as well. North lost to FSK in the region semifinals two years ago on a wet, muddy field. The Hubs have practiced in the mud this week in the event field conditions deteriorate again.

"Somebody asked me what we learned from that loss to Key," Cunningham said. "I said, 'To be an all-weather team.' We're trying to cover all the angles."

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