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Akers followed brother's lead

All-County Football Defense

All-County Football Defense

December 12, 2009|By MARK KELLER

All-County Football Offense

All-County Football Coach of the Year

Nieko Akers describes his relationship with his older brother, Alex, as typical.

"We get at each other's throats sometimes, but we get along most of the time," Nieko Akers said.

As brothers often do, Nieko also learned some things from his older sibling, including a little bit about playing linebacker.

"Just getting to play with him last year, I learned a lot," Akers said. "How to read keys, making the defensive calls ... that really helped me a lot."

Akers learned his lessons well, and the Smithsburg senior is The Herald-Mail's 2009 Washington County Football Defensive Player of the Year, one year after his older brother received the same honor.

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"Nieko and Alex were both very instinctive linebackers," Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. "If you watch tape of them playing together last year, they were both on a string, going to the same place at the same time.

"It was a no-brainer moving him to the middle this year."

Akers was one of the few starters returning from the 2008 Smithsburg team that went 10-1. He followed up an 80-tackle junior season with 113 tackles this year, including 13 for losses.

"He stepped into the middle, replaced his brother and didn't back down," Orndorff said. "He really was one of the solidifying forces on defense and did a good job as a leader, reading the plays and making things happen."

Akers said he had a good feel for the middle linebacker position when the season started, but he didn't want to rely solely on insinct.

"I usually studied film two or three days a week, plus weight lifting," Akers said. "There's a lot of work that goes in. And there's other guys out there working with you. Dana (Bender), Jay (Hartley) and Jake (Gouff) came back this year, too. We didn't have just one star."

Akers carried on a Smithsburg tradition of strong linebackers that Orndorff said keeps getting better.

"We've been blessed the last five or six years with just as good linebackers as we've had in the system ever," Orndorff said.

Joining Akers on the All-County First Team Defense:

Dana Bender, Smithsburg: Big senior lineman found his way into opposing backfields, with 15 of his 55 tackles resulting in negative yardage.

Broc Kline, Boonsboro: Senior lineman had 56 tackles, including 11 for losses.

Joe Perri, Saint James: Senior lineman led the Saints with 55 tackles and 11 sacks in eight games. Being recruited by CAA teams.

Alex Wolters, North Hagerstown: Top vote-getter on defense in MVAL Antietam voting, the senior lineman had 45 tackles and seven sacks.

Kenny Frey, Williamsport: Senior linebacker was second on the Wildcats with 86 tackles, including four for losses.

Nick Harvey, Hancock: Senior linebacker led the county with 141 tackles, including 16 for negative yardage.

Greg Pheabus, North Hagerstown: Senior linebacker was Hubs' leading tackler for second straight year with 107, including 70 solo stops.

Jay Hartley, Smithsburg: Senior defensive back was first-team MVAL Antietam pick with 47 tackles.

Kevin McCormack, Saint James: The only junior on the first-team defense, the junior defensive back had eight interceptions in eight games.

Dulaney Williams, South Hagerstown: The senior safety was the Rebels' leader with 87 tackles and four interceptions.

Dylan Zimmerman, Saint James: Senior safety was a first-team Mid-Atlantic Conference pick with 30 tackles and two interceptions. Led the Saints in rushing as well.

Taylor Damuth, Smithsburg: Senior was the most consistent punter in the county, averaging a fraction under 38 yards per kick.

Ken Bosic, Clear Spring: Senior was the Blazers' leading rusher a year ago, but this season moved to the offensive line where he spearheaded a much-improved running game. Also led the Blazers with 129 tackles, including 12 for negative yardage.

Second Team Defense



DL, Alex Fridley, Williamsport, Sophomore

DL, Sawyer Gardenhour, Smithsburg, Senior

DL, J.R. Lowery, Boonsboro, Sophomore

DL, Dustin Rowland, South Hagerstown, Senior

LB, Michael Franklin, North Hagerstown, Junior

LB, Trevor Haupt, South Hagerstown, Junior

LB, Tyler Myers, Williamsport, Junior

LB, Dean White, Smithsburg, Senior

DB, Sam Elwood, Clear Spring, Sophomore

DB, Joe Mattei, North Hagerstown, Senior

DB, Ryan Parks, Smithsburg, Senior

DB, Nate Tyson, Williamsport, Senior

P, Andy Jarvis, Clear Spring, Senior

UTIL, Dakota Clark, Hancock, Senior

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