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Hubs set to represent Team Maryland in Houston

July 11, 2007|By MARK KELLER

Dan Cunningham and Mike McMillan are going a long way to represent the state of Maryland.

The North Hagerstown High School football coach and senior wide receiver are flying to Houston today to take part in a 7-on-7 football tournament at the facilities of the National Football League's Houston Texans this weekend.

McMillan is one of 12 players on the Team Maryland roster, which draws from all four divisions of the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

Cunningham is serving as an assistant to Vince Ahearn, the head coach at Frederick High School.

Players were nominated by their coaches following the NFL High School Player Development camp, which was held at Frederick in May.

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"The team is pretty much based on that camp," Cunningham said. "The big guys are kind of thrown out of the loop. This really is a tournament for receivers, defensive backs and quarterbacks."

McMillan actually fits each of those positions. He was primarily used as a possession receiver by the Hubs the last two years, but Cunningham figures to use McMillan in a much more varied role this season.

"He's our 'Slash.' He's definitely a kid you're going to have to find on the field," Cunningham said. "He's played a little quarterback in practice, and this format suits him well."

The format resembles Arena Football, though without the walls. Teams play two 12-minute halves, with play starting on the opponent's 40-yard line. The offense has four plays to get inside the 20, at which point it gets four more chances to score.

Players commonly play on both offense and defense, and the offensive and defensive sets are dictated, which puts the team's success directly on the shoulders of the players.

"You know what you're going to get on offense, so it boils down to the kids going out and performing," Cunningham said. "It's athlete on athlete and you have to take advantage of the matchups that you have in your favor."

North Hagerstown has been a regular on the summer passing league circuit over the past few years, which Cunningham said has helped solidify the Hubs program each fall.

"I think it's opened a lot of eyes. The kids get confidence in themselves and work with one another," Cunningham said. "They get to know what their strengths and weaknesses are, and that puts us ahead when we start practice in August."

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