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Washington County Football 2011: Smithsburg's Hogue next in line at Linebacker High

September 02, 2011|By MARK KELLER | keller@herald-mail.com
  • The 2011 Smithsburg football team
Photo courtesy of Larry Allen & Company, Inc.

SMITHSBURG — For many years, Penn State was known as Linebacker U. because of the steady stream of great linebackers the school produced.

Given that reasoning, perhaps its time to christen Smithsburg as Linebacker High.

The last three Washington County Defensive Player of the Year awards have gone to Smithsburg linebackers Ryan Delauter, Nieko Akers and Alex Akers.

One of the preseason frontrunners for that honor in 2011 has to be Robbie Hogue, a first-team All-County selection last year.

“He’s probably as good a linebacker as we have ever had here ... ever,” Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff said. “He’s a lot like the Akers boys, that a team could run a triple reverse and everyone else on the defense gets sucked in and he’s there to make the play.

“He’s a good leader and a good tackler. He’s always around the ball.”

Hogue will be joined at linebacker by seniors Devin Baker and Chase Scott. Kevin Needy and Tommy Smith will be the top defensive backs, with Dillan Harbaugh, Zane Gardenhour and Brad Spickler cycling in.

Spickler will take over as quarterback after serving as Tyler Scott’s backup last season. He completed 7 of 14 passes for 72 yards in limited action.

“He makes good decisions back there. He completed a nice circle pass in our playoff game,” Orndorff said.

He’ll have an experienced target in Smith, an All-County first team pick last year. Smith had 33 catches for 524 yards and five touchdowns.

“He just has a knack of going for the ball, and he adjusts to the ball really well when it’s in the air,” Orndorff said.

At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds, Gardenhour will give Spickler a large target to throw to. Orndorff said Gardenhour has good hands and speed and is an outstanding blocker downfield.

As much as Smithsburg is known for its linebackers defensively, the same could almost be said for its tailbacks on the offense. One 1,000-yard rusher graduates, another one steps in.

The Leopards lost Ben Daniels and his 1,329 yards and 18 touchdowns to graduation, and Orndorff figures to go with a tailback-by-committee approach, at least for the early part of the season.

Seniors Needy and Brock Heiston and juniors Zach Krall and Austin Ryan will share carries as the year begins.

“They all bring a different element to the game,” Orndorff said. “They all run north and south, which is important. But otherwise, they’re all a little different. Hopefully we can keep the fresh and utilize them properly, take advantage of whoever has the hot hand.”

Orndorff said there is little game experience on either the offensive or defensive lines, but he has more depth on the lines than he has had in years.

“I’m hoping that will be a strength for us, that depth,” Orndorff said. “We do rotate a lot of kids in and out, and Coach (Jeff) Barnhart really does a good job with that. If we can keep those guys fresh late in the third quarter and in the fourth, that can only help us.”

The run of top-notch linebackers has coincided with a run of team success for the Leopards, who have posted four straight winning seasons and playoff berths.

Making it five straight this season will not be easy, Orndorff said.

“Our goal is to compete in the league and make the playoffs,” Orndorff said. “If we get some leaders to step up and focus a little more, we’ll be competitive. But it’s an uphill task with our schedule.”

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