Leopards aren't a stepping stone

November 14, 2008|By MARK KELLER

SMITHSBURG -- Buddy Orndorff isn't big on formalities.

More than anything, the Smithsburg football coach doesn't want his team to be a formality.

The Leopards, fresh off their unbeaten regular season, play host to Allegany tonight in a Maryland Class 1A West semifinal and Orndorff isn't thrilled that his team is being written off simply because its opponent hails from a town called Cumberland.

"They're already selling tickets for the (Allegany-Fort Hill) rematch up there," said Orndorff, a Cumberland native himself. "They announced after the Homecoming game last week, 'We'll see you back here in two weeks.' I told these guys, 'They don't have respect for you. They think they're just going to come down here and kick your butts.'

"Look, we have to play a heck of a game to beat them. But nobody has turned in their uniform. They're going to come out and play football."


The Leopards (10-0) are in the playoffs for the fourth time in six years, but have won just one playoff game since their last state title in 1994. They're on a bit of an emotional high following their exciting 20-13 win over archrival Boonsboro in last week's regular-season finale, a victory that not only locked up the MVAL Antietam title and the undefeated regular season, but also earned Smithsburg the No. 2 seed in the region and the right to host tonight's game.

Meanwhile, Allegany (8-2) is licking its wounds after its own thrilling finale, a 26-22 loss to Fort Hill. It was a costly defeat for the Campers both in seeding and in personnel as they lost top running back J.D. Hook to a leg injury in the game.

Orndorff isn't expecting any surprises when the Campers take the field.

"It's Allegany ... 6-2 defense, Wing-T offense, good skill players, big line," Orndorff said. "Size-wise, they're as big as South, Winters Mill and Walkersville. Every bit as big and they're better.

"They're a typical Cumberland football team -- fundamentally sound and they block and tackle well."

Of course, a team doesn't go 10-0 without playing some solid football. Offensively, the Leopards are able to spread the wealth with running backs Erick Parker (1,234 rushing yards, 13 touchdowns) and Tyler Scott, quarterback Kyle Orndorff (860 passing yards, 16 TDs) and receiver Billy Lawrence (16 catches, 9 TDs).

Throw in Josh Conway, who can line up at any of those positions and produce, and you've got some weapons of mass production.

Defensively, linebacker Alex Akers has racked up 120 tackles, including 16 last week against Boonsboro, while Nieko Akers and Scott are also forces in the middle. Conway has six interceptions to spearhead an underrated defensive backfield.

"We know if we play good football, we can win," Buddy Orndorff said. "We have to play fundamental and stay balanced on offense.

"If we do that, anything can happen."

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