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On offense or defense, Conway makes his mark

September 05, 2008|By MARK KELLER

SMITHSBURG -- Ask Josh Conway to choose between playing offense or defense and you'll initially get a very short answer.

"Oh, wow."

Fortunately, the Smithsburg senior doesn't have to choose one or the other -- and that makes coach Buddy Orndorff happy, too.

"Truthfully, there is no one side of the ball for him. He's just a football player," Orndorff said. "He's solid on both sides of the ball. He is definitely not a one-dimensional kid."

The numbers from 2007 support Orndorff's assessment of Conway, who enters the 2008 season as one of the top two-way players in the Tri-State area. Last year, Conway:

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n Tied for third in the area in receptions (29);

n Tied for fifth in the area in receiving yards (518);

n Tied for 17th in the area in tackles (85);

n Led the area in interceptions (6).

"Josh is very football smart," Orndorff said. "He sees the field very well at free safety, he's very adept at getting open offensively and as a return guy, he's as good as anybody around."

The same could be said for his leadership skills. Whether it's on the football field, the basketball court or the baseball diamond, Conway has assumed -- and welcomed -- the role of a team leader. Yet, Conway still defers to "team" first.

"We're getting a lot of leadership this year from all the seniors," Conway said. "There are a lot of guys stepping in. Everyone's picked it up right away to try to get to the same point we were last year, or even better."

"I think that's what makes Josh a good leader, that he does put the team above himself," Orndorff said. "He's not the total package, the team is. He's out there helping the freshmen and JVs. He does a nice job talking to the younger kids. You can't ask for any more than that."

As one of a very few returning starters on offense, Conway said he realizes there are high expectations for him this season. Still, he knows he can't carry the team himself, nor does he intend to try.

"I think we're all getting better with each other. If someone else does well, we're all going to do well," Conway said. "The chemistry is building on our team. As long as we're one, we'll get it done. It's more what we can all do to help the team than any one guy can do."

Pressed again for an answer to the original question -- offense or defense? -- Conway pauses.

"Oh, wow," Conway said. "I really enjoyed offense all my life, but defense is where it happens. It's a lot more intense, you get to hit some people, there's a lot more thinking ... there's a lot more to do on the defensive side. You can really go at it.

"And like they say, defense wins championships."

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