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Balanced Leopards leaving opponents uneven

October 02, 2007|By MARK KELLER

At 4-0, the Smithsburg football team is off to its best start since 2004, but it's not the record that's most impressive about that start.

The Leopards have manhandled three of their four opponents thus far, outscoring Northern Garrett, Poolesville and Clear Spring by a combined 132-7.

But before you can dismiss the Leopards as a team beating up on weaker teams, you have to look at the result of their third game of the season - a 38-30 victory at Winters Mill.

Smithsburg went airborne against the Falcons, with quarterback Bryan Faulders throwing for a school-record 295 yards and two touchdowns. The Leopards also rushed for 121 yards in that game to keep Winters Mill honest.

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Long known as a running team, the new balance the Leopards are showing in 2007 have made them a team to be reckoned with - in the MVAL and, perhaps down the line, in the Class 1A playoffs.

Faulders has been fairly efficient, completing 62 percent (34-for-55) of his passes for 556 yards, with six touchdowns against two interceptions.

Running back Bobby Smith is averaging 95 rushing yards a game and Erick Parker is gaining about 9 1/2 yards a carry (19 for 179 yards).

Josh Conway (15 receptions, 287 yards, three TDs) and Kevin Kocsis (13, 195, 2) are one of the best receiving duos in the area. And, since missing his first PAT attempt of the season, Matt Plumley has become automatic, hitting 23 in a row - including a school-record nine last week against Clear Spring.

With all of that offensive success - the Leopards have punted only five times this season, all against Winters Mill - it's easy to overlook a defense which has surrendered only 37 points.

They'll face a stiffer test this week at Walkersville, which has found some offense the last two weeks in wins over Catoctin and Brunswick.

But the Leopards have started the year like a team determined to have a special season. There's little to indicate they won't continue the same way.

In the polls

The top five teams in The Herald-Mail Super 7 stayed the same this week. Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs did not play, while Smithsburg, Greencastle and Boonsboro all won.

Mercersburg Academy climbs back in at No. 6 after beating Lawrenceville.

Jefferson moves into the poll at No. 7 despite a 2-4 record. The Cougars beat Musselman, last week's No. 6 team, and their four losses have come against teams with a combined record of 16-3.

Friday night's schedule includes Clear Spring at South Hagerstown; North Hagerstown at Winters Mill; Smithsburg at Walkersville; Williamsport at Brunswick; Martinsburg at Hedgesville; Jefferson at Fort Hill; Musselman at Bridgeport; Moorefield at Berkeley Springs; James Buchanan at Waynesboro; and Greencastle at Susquenita.

On Saturday, it's Hancock at West Nottingham; Chambersburg at Bishop McDevitt; South Carroll at Boonsboro; St. James at Flint Hill; and Mercersburg Academy at Blair Academy.

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