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Same rivalry, different stadium

November 10, 2007|By TIM KOELBLE

A new chapter in the history of the North Hagerstown-South Hagerstown football rivalry will be written tonight.

After 50 years in which the intense rivalry had exclusively been played at School Stadium, a new venue becomes part of the lore when North's Mike Callas Stadium hosts the 51st edition.

No longer will the schools alternate host responsibilities at School Stadium - North can finally stay on home grounds when it comes to playing South in football.

As a player and then a coach, North's Dan Cunningham has been involved in about 15 of the games.

"To finally be the true home team is a big advantage for us," said Cunningham. "To us, it is big because we now have our own turf to defend. You really didn't have that feeling before."

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For South coach Greg Kellick, this will be his 30th year as part of the rivalry, but it's the first time he's ever had the additional questions to be answered, such as "when does the bus leave for North?" and "what uniforms will we wear?"

"I still don't know what time the bus is leaving," Kellick said after practice on Wednesday. "It will be a strange feeling playing the last game on the road."

The Hubs (3-6) have dominated the Rebels (1-8) the past four years and hold a 25-24-1 series advantage. North has won by an average of 41-4 the last four years, including three shutouts - one a 44-0 win last year. South has not beaten North since 2002, a 39-0 victory as part of an 8-4 playoff season.

"North has done a great job and they've had the really nice athletes," said Kellick. "We'd like to get it back to being competitive in this series where it goes down to the fourth quarter. The kids might like blowouts, but we as coaches - and I'm sure the fans do, too - like to see close games."

While both teams have endured the usual bumps, bruises and lost minutes to key players, it's the final game when everyone is ready to let it all out.

"We're all in uniform," said Cunningham. "We've seen South on tape I think five times. They're a spread option-I team still searching for identity. I think they pose a threat with the two 6-4 kids so we'll have to disguise some coverages and we'll have to stop (Eric) Phillips."

Cunningham was referring to South receivers Cory Shank and Tywan Lee, a pair of juniors who can hurt opposing defenses if everyone is on the right page with quarterback Wes Samples, who has 10 touchdown passes, including seven to Shank.

On the other hand, Kellick knows his team must come out of the gate with some enthusiasm, something that was lacking in the first half of last week's loss to Walkersville.

"It's a fine line of being ready in this game," he said. "You know the excitement will be there early. We just need to have more control on offense early in the game and move the ball ourselves."

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