Many times, the kicker in football doesn’t get noticed.
It was difficult not to notice Mark Grunberg at Mike Callas Stadium on Friday night.
The North Hagerstown sophomore had a varsity debut to remember in the Hubs’ 54-0 win over Roosevelt, making six of his seven extra points (the seventh was blocked).
Perhaps more impressive, however, was the distance on Grunberg’s kickoffs. Of his nine kickoffs, three went into the end zone for touchbacks and five others were fielded inside the 10-yard line.
The Roughriders started outside the 25-yard line on only one of their nine possessions that began after North kickoffs.
“He’s definitely a weapon. If you’re not prepared for him, he’s going to hurt you,” said North coach Dan Cunningham. “If you have a kid like that who can put the ball inside the 20 and back a team against the wall, it’s huge for your defense.”
Grunberg is a two-sport player in the fall, splitting his time with the boys soccer team. Because he declared football as his primary sport, he had to miss what would have been his first varsity soccer game Friday in the Washington County tournament.
“As a dual player, you know he’s going to work hard. And he is a hard worker,” Cunningham said. “We’re happy to have him.”
— Mark Keller
Jordan Bucher is no fashion plate, but he certainly was a trendsetter for the South Hagerstown football team.
The senior tackle tried to look spiffy in his sparkling white uniform with green trim as the Rebel defense took the field against Berkeley Springs for its first play of the season.
After that play, Bucher was grass stained, but he had something the rest of his teammates didn’t.
Bucher stood his ground on the first snap and nailed Indians ballcarrier William Colliflower to dislodge the ball for a fumble he recovered as Berkeley Springs 33. It set the tone for the rest of the game in South’s 59-7 win.
The play set up South’s first touchdown, a 24-yard run by quarteback Brandon Hess, but Bucher’s play also set the Rebels up for the rest of the game.
South forced turnovers on Berkeley Springs’ first four possessions to take a 26-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. C.J. Davis picked off a pass and Ahmere Ware recovered a fumble and returned an interception 68 yards for a score in the first 9:17 of the game.
“When the defense does that, they go out and play with confidence,” said South coach Toby Peer. “That put (Berkeley Springs) out of sync. It allowed us to play fast and aggressive to take control of the tempo of the game.”
South’s defense and special teams combined to score 20 points and had a hand in setting up 26 more. The Rebels forced seven fumbles, recovering two, to go with the two interceptions.
— Bob Parasiliti
For the first time in many years, the football season began without a familiar face in the timekeepers seat in the Boonsboro pressbox.
Norm Mayer, 79, was a longtime sports official in Washington County and had been a regular timekeeper at Boonsboro home games.
Mayer passed away in late March. A blanket sits in the pressbox remembering Mayer.
The Boonsboro field looked its best in years with the installation of new sod about one month ago. The field was lined with yard markers and hash marks along with soccer outlines, all ready for a busy fall season.
Boonsboro had seven players gain positive rushing yards in its 21-12 win over North Carroll on Friday, led by Justin Jardeleza’s 58 yards, all coming in the second half. ... Ryan Ruiz completed only five passes, but the average gain per completion was 37.6 yards. ... The Boonsboro defense came up with 11 stops for negative yardage, nine on the ground. Twice, Kyle Briggs and Caleb Jardeleza combined for a sack of quarterback Terin Kelsey and J.R. Lowery also had two sacks.
— Tim Koelble
Buddy Orndorff isn’t going to turn down Smithsburg’s 7-0 victory over Northern Garrett on Friday. But that won’t keep him from being a little disappointed his team didn’t win by more.
“You win a 7-0 game against a team like that, you’ll take it, you know?” Orndorff said. “But we had the ball on the 2-yard line and couldn’t score. And that upsets me.”
The Leopards got the only score of the game in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Zach Krall, then depended on their defense to preserve and protect that seven-point lead.
“The defense played really well, came up with some big plays,” Orndorff said. “We got a couple of interceptions, a fumble recovery and got good pressure on the quarterback.”
Smithsburg’s running back-by-committee model was also effective on a hot and humid night in Garrett County. Krall and Matt Stevens — both juniors — ended up getting the bulk of the carries as the game went along.
“We let the first guys play the first couple series, but we also had them in on some long defensive series,” Orndorff said. “(Northern) only had 26 kids, so we figured we could keep our kids as fresh as possible by going with (Krall and Stevens) on offense.”
— Mark Keller
Odds and ends
Clear Spring won its season opener — a 41-12 victory over Fairfield — for just the second time in its eight varsity seasons. ... The Blazers scored more than 40 points seven times in their last 16 games (they’re 10-6 in that stretch) after turning the trick just once in their first 55 games. ... Williamsport has lost its last four season openers and seven of its last nine following its 20-12 loss to Liberty on Friday. ... The Wildcats haven’t beaten a Carroll County opponent since the final game of the 2000 season, a 23-20 double-overtime win over Francis Scott Key. ... Saint James extended its winning streak over Hancock to 10 games with a 21-4 victory on Friday. ... The Panthers have scored just 17 points in the last five meetings with the Saints. ... It is believed that the Panthers are the first county team to finish a game with four points.
— Mark Keller