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Season's end leads to new beginning for Warriors

November 03, 2011|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.om

The end isn’t always the end when the Boonsboro and Smithsburg football teams are involved.

Every year since 2003, at least one of the two teams has headed to the postseason after their traditional regular-season finale.

This season is no different as Boonsboro has locked up one of the four playoff spots in Maryland Class 1A West heading into Friday night’s showdown at Boonsboro.

From 2007 through 2009, both schools were playoff bound. Last season, Smithsburg beat the Warriors 35-13 on the way to a playoff berth and ended the year 6-5, while Boonsboro finished 2-8.

This year, the tables have turned as Boonsboro comes in with an 8-1 record, while Smithsburg comes in at 3-6.

The Warriors will try to rebound from their first loss of the year, a 28-21 overtime setback on Friday against North Hagerstown.

As far as Boonsboro coach Clayton Anders is concerned, the loss is in the archives.

“We’ve talked all week about flushing out the loss,” said Anders. “We don’t want the loss hanging over us. We’re still in a great position and our focus is on Smithsburg.”

The Warriors are second in 1A West with a point average of 8.78, just ahead of Mountain Ridge at 7.56. Fort Hill is first at 9.89. The top two teams will have home field for first-round playoff games next week.

“That’s the motivation,” said Anders. “We need to go out and win and guarantee a home game.”

Boonsboro’s offense poses problems with several players able to pick up the load on the ground, namely Justin Jardeleza, J.T. Rice, Gunnar Whipp and Zach Poffenberger. And it all starts under center with quarterback Ryan Ruiz, who has shown the ability to throw the football and tuck it away to dash off for yardage.

Through nine games the Warriors are averaging 35.3 points per game and over 210 yards a game on the ground.

However, Anders said Rice is out of Friday’s game with a concussion and Jardeleza has been on a day-to-day basis with a shoulder injury.

“That just means our game plan is to run the others that start,” said Anders.

And it’s also likely that Ruiz will see more time in the defensive secondary and that Colton Rhoderick will roll down into Rice’s position at outside linebacker.

“We’ve played nine weeks,” said Anders. “We clicked on all cylinders for eight weeks and last week we didn’t at all. In August, if someone would have asked if we’d be 8-1 at this point, I’d have taken it then. We’re not ashamed at where we’re at now.”

Smithsburg coach Buddy Orndorff didn’t waver in his assessment of Friday’s opponent.

“No one was talking about Boonsboro in the beginning of the year,” said Orndorff. “They don’t do a lot of things wrong. They aren’t very big, but they are aggressive and fundamentally sound. They have kids than run the ball and (Ruiz) manages the game well.

“(Clayton) loves this team and, as a coach, he has the kind of kids you love to coach,” Orndorff said. “They don’t seem to have egos on that team. It’s fun to watch them play. My hat is off to them. I’ve known (Clayton) for a long time and I think this is one of his best coaching jobs this season.”

The Leopards started the season 2-0 but couldn’t sustain that momentum. Things began to crash in the third week, a 25-20 loss to Manchester Valley in what became more than just a loss on the scoreboard.

Smithsburg lost receiver Tommy Smith in that game and the home run ability he brought to the table.

“Difficult things happened,” said Orndorff. “(Tommy) getting hurt turned the tide in that game. We could have been 3-0. After he got hurt, we kind of mixed and matched the offense. The kids we have in his position are very good players but they just don’t have (Tommy’s) speed. That is the difference.”

Ornodorff also lost Mitchell Akers on defense, another key setback.

“We’ve struggled to replace him,” said Orndorff. “Losing two of your better players makes it hard. (The injuries) seemed to take a lot out of the team in their attitude and confidence.”

Smithsburg looked to have turned things around with a 34-15 win over Clear Spring two weeks ago, but slipped back into mediocrity offensively in a 21-0 loss to Williamsport last week.

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