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New coaches give 'Cats, Rebels fresh starts

September 14, 2007|By ANDREW MASON

Joe Burger wants to bring some of Smithsburg's winning ways to Williamsport, while Scott Buhrman hopes to have more success at South Hagerstown than his father, Bruce, had.

Both former assistant girls soccer coaches are first-year head coaches this fall.

Burger spent the previous five seasons as Bill Fowkes' assistant at Smithsburg, enjoying five straight Maryland Class 1A West titles and state-championship runs each of the last two years. His daughter, Emily, was a senior captain on the Leopards' 2005 team.

"Back-to-back state championships was kind of hard to walk away from," Burger said, "but I wanted to take that next step."

He replaced J.R. Mellott, who was 32-29-4 in his four seasons at Williamsport.

The Wildcats went 0-2 at the Washington County Tournament to begin this season.

"It was a rough start for us, but as coaches you always say that it's not where you start, it's where you finish," Burger said. "It's all about just taking baby steps the first year. We're not going to conquer the world right away.

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"We have a long way to go to get close to where the Smithsburgs and North Hagerstowns are. I'm a very competitive person, though, and I'm in it for the long haul to make it a more competitive program.

"I couldn't ask for a better group of kids and parents at Williamsport. It's just going to take us some time."

Bruce Buhrman coached the South girls for all 12 seasons of the program's existence, before stepping down after last year because of new duties at E. Russell Hicks Middle School, where he works.

His son, Scott, who spent the previous two years working as his assistant, said he felt responsible for the program after his father left.

"I felt a responsibility to the girls and a responsibility to the school," said Scott Buhrman, who teaches social studies.

The Rebels, who went 5-9-1 last year, have never had a winning season.

While South is off to an 0-4 start this year, Scott Buhrman said things are different.

"Our demeanor has changed. We're more focused, more determined and we're functioning as a team," he said, crediting a lot of the change to his new assistant, Dan Scally.

While the Rebels don't have enough players to field a JV team this year, Scott Buhrman said that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"We have a large crop of ninth-graders playing at the varsity level, and that's infused the team with a new energy," he said.

"South is 100 percent better than what they were last year," said Fowkes, after his Leopards beat the Rebels in the first round of the county tourney. "They have a clue. They're thinking soccer out there. As the season goes on, they're going to be OK."

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