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Beating Rebels could ease Hubs' pain

November 07, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

North Hagerstown seniors taking part in the 51st battle between the Hubs and South Hagerstown on Friday night will be out to make it a clean sweep of the Rebels during their prep careers.

The Hubs, who went 0-5 to begin this season, want to finish the year on a positive note with a win and a 4-6 record.

"Sending the seniors off with a win would be so huge for them," said North coach Dan Cunningham. "These kids were down early and bought into rising to the occasion and coming back."

Two big spokes on the wheel are running backs Justin McDonald and Diez Johnson, who have combined for 1,625 yards rushing this season and 13 touchdowns while fighting injuries throughout the year.

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"We'll come out to play and win the city trophy," said Donaldson. "This game means a lot. It means I won't be playing high school football anymore. We'll go out and do what it takes to win."

Donaldson, who is sporting a head of fire-engine red hair this week, leads the Hubs with 818 yards rushing, 11 ahead of Johnson. Cunningham said he will miss both of them after Friday's game.

"(Diez) has been the cornerstone of our offense for the last three years," he said. "He's the kind that never says a lot and lets his numbers speak. Over his career, he has shared the number of carries, and he still has gone over 2,000 yards for his career. He has sacrificed numbers for the team.

"They both put the team in front of themselves," said Cunningham. "Justin will even run in during practice and run on the scout team. You just couldn't ask for more out of these two."

The Hubs, however, could have asked for a better twist of fate to the first half of the season, which cost them dearly in trying to make the playoffs for a fourth time in the last five years.

North had a key play reversed in a season-opening 26-20 loss to Heritage (Va.), were beaten 19-18 on a last-second field goal by Musselman and blew a 23-0 fourth-quarter lead in a 24-23 loss to Winters Mill - three games that made a big difference for the Hubs.

Cunningham even felt if the Hubs could have seized some opportunities on turnovers in last week's 18-10 loss against Frederick, the outcome might have been different.

"Not being in the playoffs is not where we want to be," said Cunningham, "but by the same token we have matured as a group of players."

The Hubs also have been hit by injuries.

"(Donaldson and Johnson) are still fighting some injuries, and we've had key people like (Kyle Malcolm) and (Josh Lyle) on both sides of the line hurt," said Cunningham. "We lost a significant amount of playing time from these guys."

The Hubs also started the season with James Brunson at quarterback until an elbow injury to Brunson brought in Bryan Calendine. Brunson has since returned to the defensive secondary and has played as a wide receiver.

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