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Leopards, Warriors find their motivation

November 10, 2007|By MARK KELLER

With everything the Boonsboro and Smithsburg football teams have on the line in the final week of the 2007 season, it's hard to imagine either team needs motivation.

But, in the event they do need motivation, the Warriors and Leopards - arch rivals about 12 miles from one another - are playing for the 41st time tonight at Smithsburg. That alone should be enough to start the motors of players on both sides.

"I think it's more that it's Boonsboro. It's just the rivalry of the game," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "We've played some tough games over the years, and this one's going to be another knockdown, drag-out kind of game."

Figuring out which team has more hanging in the balance depends on your perspective.

At stake for Boonsboro:

A playoff bid. For the Warriors, it's simple - beat Smithsburg, make the postseason. Boonsboro is currently fifth in the Class 1A West standings, but a win over the Leopards would vault the Warriors over Mountain Ridge into the fourth and final region playoff position.

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"I don't think we've ever been in a situation like this, that we needed to pull an upset the final week to get in," Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said.

"There have been years we had to win to get in, but on paper we were the better team. We just had to take care of business. This year is different."

The other side is just as simple for the Warriors - lose to Smithsburg, the season's over.

The MVAL Antietam title. A win over Smithsburg and a Catoctin loss to Brunswick would give the Warriors the conference title outright for the second straight year. Should the Warriors and Catoctin both win, they would both share the title with Smithsburg.

"We won the conference last year and if you get in that position, you want to try to defend," Anders said. "And we're still in the hunt for that."

At stake for Smithsburg:

A perfect regular season. A team has come into this game with a 9-0 record five times. In all five cases, that team left the game with a 10-0 mark.

"I'm sure it's something they'd like to accomplish," Orndorff said. "At least I think they'd like to be undefeated."

The MVAL Antietam title. Smithsburg has the most direct route to this. If the Leopards win, they win the conference - something they haven't done since 1984, which was also the last time they were 9-0 facing Boonsboro. If they lose, they need Catoctin to win in order to keep a share of the crown.

Momentum for the postseason. The Leopards have already clinched their spot in the playoffs. They'll be the No. 3 seed in the 1A West bracket and will face the loser of Saturday's Fort Hill-Allegany game in Cumberland next weekend.

"We're happy we're in the playoffs. We have a goal - just play until you can't play anymore," Orndorff said. "But first things first."

First comes tonight's game. Once that's finished, both teams will move on to the next step, whether it's on the field or not.

"I told the kids, 'If you can't get excited about this game, I don't know why you're here,'" Anders said. "There's not much more to it than that."

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