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Boonsboro-Smithsburg: Best case scenario - Just win, baby

November 05, 2009|By MARK KELLER

The Boonsboro football team is about as close to a postseason berth as a team can get without actually having clinched.

Warriors coach Clayton Anders doesn't want to take any chances, however.

"We're very close to being in even with a loss this week, but if we lose, it depends on everyone else," Anders said. "So the best scenario for us is to go out and win this week and not let it come down to that."

That's easier said than done. The Warriors (5-4) close out their regular season at home Friday against rival Smithsburg (6-3), which already has clinched one of the four playoff spots in Maryland Class 1A West.

This year's matchup doesn't have quite the intrigue as last year's, when both teams entered the game with a 9-0 record, but there are nearly as many things on the line.

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The winner claims -- officially -- the MVAL Antietam title and -- unofficially -- the Washington County title.

"It's county bragging rights, it's your archrival ... if you can't get up for that, you better check your pulse," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said.

Smithsburg ended a four-game losing streak against Boonsboro with a 20-13 victory last season that cut the Warriors' series lead to 22-20.

Both teams were hit hard by graduation, and though neither team has reached the heights they reached a year ago, 2009 has been more of a reloading season than a rebuilding one.

Both teams got off to slow starts before streaking at midseason.

The Warriors started 1-3, the last of those three losses a 52-8 thumping at the hands of Catoctin. They then won three straight before splitting with the Hagerstown schools the last two weeks.

"As bad as we felt losing to South, we felt that good after beating North (last week)," Anders said. "We gave them some opportunities with good field position and we shut them down pretty well. As far as our defense is concerned, that was as well as we've played all year."

The Leopards started 1-2 before winning five of their last six, including a thrilling win over Williamsport on the final play of the game last week.

"If you would have told me when we were 2-2 that we could end up 7-3, there might have been some money lost," Orndorff said.

"We're in a real good position right now that a few weeks ago I wouldn't have thought we would be in," Orndorff said.

Neither team does a lot of passing -- between them they've thrown just 98 passes this season -- so the defenses will be keyed on stopping the opposing running game.

For Smithsburg, that means slowing down Boonsboro's Branden McLean and Drew Lowery, who have carried the ball almost an identical number of times.

McLean leads the Warriors with 986 yards on 109 carries, while Lowery follows with 759 yards on 107 carries.

"That's really just the way it works out. It's not a conscious thing to get them equal touches," Anders said. "I'm amazed by that sometime in my scouting and charting. But on the other side, it's easier to defend when you know one guy is going to get the ball all the time."

"As long as they have those two, they'll be in the game. They're as good as any two backs we'll see," Orndorff said. "McLean is so fast and strong and Lowery has great balance. You never get him down with just one guy."

Where Boonsboro has two runners, Smithsburg finds three backs more effective, rotating carries between Ben Daniels, Derek Smith and Taylor Damuth.

Daniels leads the Leopards with 733 yards on 124 carries, Smith has406 on 99 carries and Damuth has 307 on 80 carries. They have 16 of Smithsburg's 18 rushing touchdowns.

"They have a bevy of tailbacks they use and they're confident in each one of them," Anders said. "There's not a big difference in them, and there's no real drop off from one to the other. That's a luxury they have -- they can keep them fresh."

"They all look real, real good. I can't complain about any of them," Orndorff said. "They run really hard, north-south, really hit the holes well."

Fort Hill and Allegany already have clinched the top two seeds in 1A West and will host the region semifinal games at Greenway Avenue Stadium in Cumberland next weekend.

While both Cumberland teams will prove to be formidable opponents, this year's Fort Hill squad is arguably one of its best ever and is ranked eighth in the state.

That gives both Smithsburg and Boonsboro a little more incentive to win this week -- a chance to put off a date with the Sentinels for at least one more week.

"It's going to come down to who wants it more," Orndorff said. "We always say that, but in truth, that's what it is."

"We want to get that sixth win, have a bona fide winning season and beat our archrival," Anders said. "Those are the things we can control. If we slide up to No. 3, that's great. But either way, we'll be happy with that sixth win."

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