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All-County Football 2010: Winter storms the record book

December 11, 2010|By MARK KELLER | keller@herald-mail.com

It took some time for North Hagerstown’s Anthony Winter to find his way as a running back.

Once he did — midway through his junior season in 2009 — coach Dan Cunningham could only wonder what could’ve been.

“If I was smart, I would have put him at running back as a sophomore,” Cunningham said. “We didn’t know he was a running back. He’d always played quarterback or receiver. But we could tell he was a special kid.”

In the end, the result was the same. Winter now owns nearly every school rushing record following a senior year in which he ran for 1,702 yards and 16 touchdowns and helped the Hubs to their first winning season since 2006, earning him The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Football Offensive Player of the Year honor.

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“When he came in, we thought he’d be a quarterback,” Cunningham said. “But he was too dynamic, he had too many tools. So we put him at receiver as a sophomore and he had 35 catches. He just makes things happen. He’s so explosive.”

Teams found out just how explosive after Winter made the move into the backfield. The first sign of things to come appeared in the Hubs’ homecoming game in 2009 — a 27-25 loss to Smithsburg in which Winter rushed for a then-record 259 yards and scored four touchdowns.

“That was definitely my best game up to that point,” Winter said. “I think that game transformed me into a running back.”

Three weeks later, he ran for 264 yards in a win over Williamsport and started to set his sights on the Hubs’ record book.

“During the preseason this year, I would be talking with teammates about the records,” Winter said. “Each record became a goal.”

His goal was nearly derailed midway through this season. After breaking his own single-game rushing record — again — with 338 yards against Smithsburg, Winter injured his right ankle during the Walkersville game and was unable to play against Middletown.

“I thought he was done. When it first happened, it was pretty bad,” Cunningham said. “He said he didn’t want his senior season to end that way.”

After seeing a specialist who determined no more harm could be done to the ankle, Winter suited up and gained 74 yards against Williamsport before closing out the season with 266 yards against Boonsboro and an incredible 362 yards on 41 carries against South Hagerstown.

“I was as tired as I could be, I ran the ball the most I ever had and it was the greatest game I’ve ever played,” Winter said. “It was honestly the best feeling I’ve had in a while.”

Winter finished his career at North with the five best single-game rushing totals in school history, as well as career records for rushing, all-purpose yards, rushing touchdowns and points scored and the single-season mark for rushing yards.

“It’s going to be a big drop,” Cunningham said. “But as much as we’ll miss him on the field, we’ll miss him in the locker room. He’s the type of kid who walks into the office and just sits down and talks, not just football, but about anything.

“It’s going to be tough not seeing or hearing him in there next year.”

Joining Winter on the all-county first team offense are:

Hunter Phillips, QB, South Hagerstown: The senior adjusted well to the Rebels’ new spread offense, throwing for 1,254 yards and seven touchdowns and rushing for 654 yards and 10 scores.

Ben Daniels, RB, Smithsburg: The senior’s second-half surge coincided with the Leopards’ push for a fourth straight playoff berth. Finished third in the county with 1,329 rushing yards and second with 18 rushing touchdowns.

Mike Etzel, RB, Clear Spring: One big reason the Blazers remained in the playoff hunt. The senior rushed for a county-best 1,734 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Nick Stubbs, RB, South Hagerstown: The senior overcame nagging injuries to run for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns.

Tylar Habel, WR, Clear Spring: Junior receiver was second in the county in catches (29) and third in receiving yards (451) with three touchdowns.

Desmond Meade, WR, South Hagerstown: The senior Phillips’ favorite target had 28 catches for 480 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas Smith, WR, Smithsburg: Small target with a knack for gaining position to make a catch. The junior led the county in both receptions (33) and yards (524).

Zach Eppard, OL, North Hagerstown: Senior two-way standout in the trenches helped open holes for Winter.

Jordan Leach, OL, Hancock: The junior center will anchor the Panthers’ line next year.

Brandon Mullins, OL, Clear Spring: The senior guard led the way for Etzel and helped protect quarterback Adam Mellott.

Dylan Sharon, OL, Smithsburg: The senior guard was the top vote-getter among linemen in MVAL Antietam voting.

Mo Townes, OL, Saint James: The senior tackle opened holes for his brother Mike — a 1,000-yard rusher— and was an all-Mid Atlantic Conference pick.

Tommy Wagner, K/P, Saint James: The senior was 35 for 37 on PATs, made three of four field goals and averaged 40.2 yards per punt.

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