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FB Preview -- Leopards not sitting idle after losing stars

September 02, 2009|By TIM KOELBLE/koelble@herald-mail.com

Smithsburg football coach Buddy Orndorff could have his own television show called "The Leopard Talent Search" this season.

With the graduation of seven Herald-Mail All-County players, Orndorff is spending the preseason looking to fill more than just a few holes.

"I've never had to overhaul this much," said Orndorff as he enters his 13th year as the Leopards' head coach. "We've had three years of exceptional football with the last two classes."

The most recent went 10-1 last season with a star-studded cast that included Offensive Player of the Year Josh Conway, Defensive Player of the Year Alex Akers, Kyle Orndorff, Erick Parker, Tyler Scott, Taylor Metzger and Jeb Slick.

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While filling out the lineup is a priority, Orndorff says the Leopards will face "the most brutal schedule since I've been here."

Smithsburg opens Friday at North Carroll followed by consecutive home games with Walkersville, South Carroll and South Hagerstown before heading to North Hagerstown. In the offing, a home game with Catoctin and a trip to Brunswick looms before the season-ending rivalry at Boonsboro.

"North Carroll has a great tailback, Walkersville has a highly recruited quarterback and then we get more 2A teams," said Orndorff. "I'm always optimistic. We've got a lot of juniors fighting for positions and we had a strong JV team. We've got some depth again."

That depth needs to start at tailback where the Leopards try to replace the 1,234 rushing yards put up by Parker.

"We've got some guys that can go north-south with the ball," said Orndorff. "They can run."

The list includes seniors Jake Gouff, Taylor Damuth and Jerome Payne, along with juniors Ben Daniels and Derek Smith, a transfer from Fairfield, Pa.

They'll look to run behind two of Smithsburg's bigger players, senior tackles Edward Waltz (235) and Casey Rowland (230).

At quarterback, Kyle Orndorff completed 50 percent of his passes, with 16 of his 41 completions going for TDs, to go with a passing rating of 197.6.

So who steps in?

"Morgan has got experience, going to camps and the 7-on-7s in Frederick, and did very well with his reads," said Orndorff.

Smithsburg will continue to employ its Multiple-I offensive set and try to "do whatever it takes to win, running or passing," according to Orndorff.

"We'll stay with a balanced offense, keep with some flex to the system," he said.

Defensively, replacing Akers and his 120 tackles won't be easy in the Leopards' standard multiple-4 alignment.

Gouff and fellow seniors Jong Kim and Dean White are likely starters at linebacker.

"With our size, it'll be an uphill battle," said Orndorff. "You just don't want to get beat up while you're trying to develop these players."

Click here for Smithsburg football roster and schedule.

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