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Leopards-Warriors: More than a rivalry

November 07, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

It used to be a rivalry game and that was enough.

In the old days, whenever Smithsburg and Boonsboro played the final game of the high school football season, a year's worth of bragging rights was all the motivation either team, school and town needed.

This year, it's different. Much different. This 42nd meeting might be the granddaddy of them all in the South County Confrontation. It's bragging rights and so much more.

For starters, it's the Leopards playing the Warriors tonight at 7 at Boonsboro. Both teams are 9-0 and trying to remain undefeated.

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"You can't create a better scenario than this unless you would get to the state championship game and have someone be undefeated and play another undefeated team at that point," Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders said. "This is the landmark. You've got a 10-game season and you get to the 10th game undefeated. And then, your opponent is undefeated. There's no way to make it a whole lot bigger."

But there is.

Both teams will be playing for the outright MVAL Antietam title. Both seem destined for Maryland Class 1A West playoff berths.

And the winner will earn all that and quite possibly a first-round home game in the playoffs.

These two schools did meet in the Class 1A state final at South Hagerstown in 1994, but somehow the 42nd edition of this rivalry, which Boonsboro leads 22-19, seems nearly as big.

"I just want to win the ball game," said Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff. "You know, it's Boonsboro. I got my Alabama hat on. This is the Alabama-Auburn of high school football. You know, it doesn't make any difference what your record is, it's going to be a knock-down, drag-out game."

Tradition aside, this version of the rivalry may take on a new life, and not just because of everything at stake. The Leopards and the Warriors have contrasts and are evenly matched.

Both have speed and skill with weapons to prepare for and defend against.

Both teams can run and pass the ball.

Both teams have dependable quarterbacks in Smithsburg's Kyle Orndorff and Boonsboro's Tyler Walsh.

Both teams have a stable of top running backs -- Erick Parker and Tyler Scott for Smithsburg; Brandon McLean, Cody Snavely and Jake Demers for Boonsboro. Parker and McLean have each rushed for 1,000 yards.

Both teams have dangerous recievers -- Billy Lawrence and Josh Conway for Smithsburg; Seth Poffenberger and Sean Colgan for Boonsboro.

Both teams have tough, ungiving defenses. Smithsburg has four shutouts while Boonsboro owns two.

Both teams have threats on the special teams.

And both teams will have high emotions.

"This is a big game every year, no matter what the records are," Conway said. "They are all fired up and we will be all fired up. Last year, this was a big game, but this year will be bigger because I'm a senior."

In a game with so much equality on paper, the difference may come from efficiency rather than trickery -- although creative plays have been known to decide this game before.

"To me, and I hope this doesn't sound conceited, I don't think one of us is heads and tails better than the other," Anders said. "I think it will come down to football fundamentals -- who takes care of the ball, field position, penalties and the kicking game. So then it comes down to who makes more mistakes or who makes more big plays."

When it comes down to it, tonight's game may not prove anything. It even might, if the certain circumstances line up, set up another meeting next week in the first round of the playoffs.

"I think the winner of the game might not necessarily be the best team," Buddy Orndorff said. "It'll be the team that wants to sacrifidce and do what it takes to win the ballgame that night."

That's the part of it that makes the Smithsburg-Boonsboro matchup the local spectacle it is. Every year, the game can be counted on to spark the rivalry with each new set of players carrying on the tradition.

"This game is going to be our biggest game because we have to win to make sure that we make it to the playoffs," said Boonsboro defensive lineman Eddie Seabright. "With us being from Boonsboro, I wouldn't say that we hate Smithsburg people ... we just don't like them that much. So it's good that we get to play them and maybe beat them up a little on the field."

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