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Prep Football Coach of the Year

Familiarity with Smithsburg bred content for Orndorff

Familiarity with Smithsburg bred content for Orndorff

December 14, 2008|By MARK KELLER

SMITHSBURG -- The Smithsburg Leopards had a great year in 2007, winning their first nine games before dropping the season finale to arch-rival Boonsboro and bowing out in the first round of the Maryland Class 1A West playoffs.

As good as that season was, coach Buddy Orndorff knew 2008 could be even better.

He was right. Like their immediate predecessors, the 2008 Leopards also won their first nine games, but this group finished off the perfect regular season with a win over the Warriors.

A week later, the Leopards refused to lie down as sacrificial lambs against Allegany in the playoffs, giving the Cumberland school a battle it hadn't bargained for before the Campers prevailed, 30-20.

Because of that perfect regular season, Orndorff has been selected as The Herald-Mail's Area and Washington County Coach of the Year.

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"The thing that impressed me about this bunch was that they never backed down," Orndorff said. "Their desire to want to play well and to win is as good as any Smithsburg group I've been a part of in 34 years."

The Leopards won the MVAL Antietam title outright one year after sharing it with Boonsboro and Catoctin. It was their first outright conference title since 1984, which was also the last Smithsburg team to finish a regular season 10-0.

"I never really felt we were going to get beat," Orndorff said. "Once games started I had my doubts and worries, but I never went in thinking we were going to lose."

Orndorff had seen this coming. He was well aware of the talent he would be blessed with because his oldest son, Kyle, was part of this class.

"I've watched them for eight years because of Kyle," Orndorff said. "I've always had an idea of some of the players who were coming up, but I knew all of these kids already before they even got to high school."

Orndorff said the key to the success of this year's team was that the players knew their roles. The chemistry that the players had developed since their years in junior football made them what they were, he said.

"Everyone knew what they were supposed to do," Orndorff said. "I told Carroll (Reid, the former Smithsburg coach), 'It's the type of team you'd love to coach ... didn't back down, always showed up, knew their jobs.

"He said, 'It certainly seemed like it. Congratulations.' That meant a lot to me."

Orndorff never fails to credit assistant coaches Jeff Barnhart, Jay Hartley and Terry Verdier for their contributions to the team's success.

"I've got a great staff," Orndorff said. "Jeff does a great job with the line, Jay's been with these kids for years and Terry's defensive schemes ... the kids have really responded to what we're doing and they're a big part of that."

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