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Football - All-Area & All-County Offense Player of the Year

Conway hits all spots for Leopards

Conway hits all spots for Leopards

December 14, 2008|By MARK KELLER

Josh Conway had just finished carrying the Smithsburg football team to a victory at Boonsboro in the final game of the regular season, a win which gave the Leopards their first unbeaten regular season in 24 years.

The senior had spent the better part of 15 minutes greeting friends and family members -- many of whom are from Boonsboro -- before he and coach Buddy Orndorff walked up the hill to the visitors' locker room.

During that walk, Orndorff said Conway issued an apology.

"He said, 'Coach, I'm sorry I got so emotional out there. I'm not that type of guy,'" Orndorff said. "I asked him if I said anything to him about it during the game, which I didn't, and I said you have to get like that sometimes so that everyone will follow you."

The 2008 Leopards were a team with a number of offensive weapons, but without a doubt, it was Conway who made the offense click because he could produce in so many different ways.

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Whether running routes and making acrobatic catches on the sideline, running reverses from his wideout position, lining up in the backfield as a tailback or even taking snaps from center, defenses always had to account for Conway when Smithsburg lined up with the ball.

So, while other players may have rushed for more yards or scored more touchdowns, few, if any, had the impact on a game as Conway, which led to his selection as The Herald-Mail All-Area Offensive Player of the Year.Conway's shining moment was that season-ending win over Boonsboro. He took over the running game in the fourth quarter, finishing with 80 yards on 10 carries -- some from the tailback position, some from quarterback -- and scoring the winning touchdown.

"I played a little quarterback my junior year and ran a little bit out of the backfield," Conway said. "I knew coming into the season that I was going to have opportunities. I'd just have to make the best of them."

He got off to a slow start in 2008 as teams worked to stop him. That began to change as tailback Erick Parker began piling up yards and quarterback Kyle Orndorff found another target in receiver Billy Lawrence.

"Josh is a big team player," Buddy Orndorff said. "Early in the year we weren't getting him the ball as much as I wanted and I told him we were working on it. He'd say, 'We're 2-0, 3-0 ... We're winning, that's what counts.'"

Conway finished the season with 20 catches for 466 yards and six touchdowns, 430 rushing yards on 40 carries (a 10.75-yards-per-carry average) and four touchdowns. He also returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns, the latter of which led to his emotional outburst in the Boonsboro win.He also made an impact defensively for the Leopards, picking off six passes for the second consecutive year and finishing fifth on the team with 72 tackles. Conway said before the season that if he had to choose to play either offense or defense, he would choose defense. Offensive player of the year or not, that hasn't changed.

"I'd still have to say defense," Conway said. "I've been a defensive guy since middle school. That hasn't changed."

Conway will play baseball at Division I Coastal Carolina next year, but Orndorff isn't convinced he couldn't play football if he wanted to.

"He's a Division I baseball player now, but I think if he put on 15 pounds he could play D-I football, "Orndorff said.

"(Erick) Parker, (Martinsburg's Ryan) Rowland, they're both big parts of their teams, but Josh was offensively such a big part for us and there are so many intangibles for him that you just can't measure. He has versatility that you just can't overlook and think it's justifiable that he's the offensive player of the year."

Joining Conway on the All-Area First Team Offense:

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