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FB Preview -- Rebels look to find balance on offense

September 02, 2009|By MARK KELLER/keller@herald-mail.com

Sometimes when Greg Kellick watches Hunter Phillips run the South Hagerstown offense, reality smacks him in the face.

The longtime Rebels coach tends to forget that his quarterback -- despite having a few varsity starts under his belt -- is only a junior.

"He's going to be solid, but he's still a 16-year-old kid. I have to remind myself of that sometimes," Kellick said. "Hunter exceeded expectations last year, so a lot of the offense should be second nature to him now. But then when he makes a mistake, I look at him and wonder what's wrong.

"He's still going to act like a junior sometimes."

One of Kellick's goals early in the season is to lessen the pressure on Phillips -- whether it's real pressure or only perceived.

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"When we brought him up last year, he was just happy to be there. He was part of the team," Kellick said. "Now he's the quarterback, everybody's looking at him that way and he's sort of been isolated. His demeanor has to be right, so we have to get him back into being a part of the team."

Another junior, Nick Stubbs, will play a large role in that. Stubbs also was called up to the varsity team last year and saw significant time in the backfield. This year, Stubbs will be the featured back in the Rebels offense, which Kellick said will be more run-oriented.

The loss of huge receivers Cory Shank (6-foot-3) and Tywan Lee (6-4) to graduation almost dictates that change.

"Last year, with Cory out there, we were going to throw the ball," Kellick said. "We don't have those big receivers this year, so we will have to run the ball more. And Nick is the kind of back that you can do that with."

The Rebels have a solid foundation on the line with three returning starters: Dustin Rowland (6-0, 325), Dakota Bartlett (6-5, 290) and Travis Kline (6-4, 275).

South is changing to a 4-4 defense after operating out of a 50 base set for years. The change will put more responsibility on the defensive line to make tackles rather than just gobble up blocks for the linebackers.

"The tackles should be making tackles in this defense. In a 50, they give themselves up to let the backers make the tackles," Kellick said.

Rowland and Bartlett will start at the defensive tackle positions, with Mike Moroz and Dylan Burkett on the ends.

A new batch of linebackers will include senior Ryan Wood and juniors Stubbs and Trevor Haupt. Dulaney Williams returns in the defensive backfield.

Kellick said the Rebels kicking game will be their best in years with the addition of David Savage from South's soccer team.

"We've always had good running backs at this school. There have been years we've had four good running backs but we've not been able to find a consistent kicking game," Kellick said. "You have to go back to Ronnie Webb (in the late 1980s) to find when we last had that.

"We had David out there doing extra points the other day. The ball comes off his foot high, it gets up quick, and his kickoffs are in the end zone or near it. We've not had that luxury very often in the past."

Click here for South Hagerstown football roster and schedule.

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