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Etzel doesn't come up short for Baker scholarship

April 09, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Mike Etzel
Mike Etzel

HAGERSTOWN — Mike Etzel looked sharp, sporting a blue sport jacket at Saturday’s Ravens Roost No. 7 Double EE awards banquet on Saturday.

While the Clear Spring senior was fashionable for the event, he was really en vogue as a football player. In fact, Etzel was a trendsetter.

“I think short is coming back,” he said with a big grin. “You are seeing shorter guys standing out in football and in other sports.”

The Ravens Roost agreed that Etzel — all 5-foot-9 of him — was a beauty as the fan club awarded the Blazers tailback the Gus Baker Memorial Scholarship of $2,500 at the Hagerstown Elks Lodge.

“It’s an honor,” Etzel said. “It’s nice, especially with all these guys in this room. It’s nice to be chosen.”

The scholarship was probably the softest handoff Etzel took all year. During the season, Etzel would get the ball and use his low center of gravity to hide behind his offensive line while taking on tacklers.

It was the bread-and-butter part of the offense for Clear Spring, which finished with a 6-4 record and just out of the Maryland Class 1A playoffs.

“Shorter players play with a chip on their shoulder,” Etzel said. “You have to go hard.”

Etzel led Washington County with 1,734 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns to earn Herald-Mail and county’s first-team honors. He ended his career as Clear Spring’s all-time rushing leader with more than 2,300 yards.

It was big production for a player who has been considered small for the majority of his life. Besides his obvious stature, he played on one of the smallest football-playing schools in the state.

It wasn’t always easy.

“I worked hard,” Etzel said. “As a freshman, I was small and awful. I listened to my coaches. Then about the end of the freshman year, right before my sophomore season, I got an aggressive mentality.”

When you look at Etzel, you don’t think aggressive. Off the field, he grins. On the field, it’s a sneer.

“I can turn it on and off when I have to,” he said, with the grin. “I had to be patient when running, especially with our team because we didn’t have a lot of guys. I would go as fast as I could from start to finish and just try to pick someone to get behind.”

In his own small way, Etzel was glad to be a big part in helping Clear Spring establish its program.

“It was great. I’m glad I was able to be part of it,” he said. “Making the playoffs would have made it better, but going 6-4 for the first time and leaving as the school’s leading rusher is the next best thing.”

With the scholarship, Etzel will attend Frostburg State and play football.

“My mom has been looking around for scholarships all over,” he said. “I think she will be happy to see this one.”

When Etzel joins the Bobcats, he will be in a familiar situation. He will be a small player going to play football at another small school.

“I know some people who go to school there,” he said. “I have an opportunity to go there and start. It’s another small school, so I’m used to it and know what I have to do.”

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