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High School Football: Anderson, Hubs seek playoffs and payback

November 01, 2012|By TIM KOELBLE | koelble@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — Friday night’s Hagerstown Gridiron Classic is one that Tre Anderson has long anticipated.

The North Hagerstown senior missed the game last year with a torn medial collateral ligament and watched from the sideline as his team fell to South Hagerstown, 40-7.

“It was painful to watch your team getting destroyed,” Anderson said. “The worst feeling.”

Anderson has been everywhere for the Hubs, starting his career as a running back and then moving to the slot. Defensively, he’s one of the best around.

The biggest thing was staying healthy this year, which has allowed him to be one of the main cogs in helping the Hubs build an 8-1 record.

“The loss motivated me for this season,” Anderson said.

Heading into the final week of the season, Anderson’s stats are impressive on both sides of scrimmage.

He has caught 22 passes for 474 yards and six touchdowns. He has run for 212 yards and four touchdowns. He has returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. He averages six tackles per game, has 7 1/2 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a blocked kick.

The Hubs are assured a playoff spot in Maryland Class 3A West with a victory, and can even get in with a loss if Seneca Valley beats Watkins Mill. But Anderson — like coach Dan Cunningham and the rest of the team — is not thinking about postseason play.

“We’re ignoring playoff talk,” Anderson said. “We are focused.”

North had playoff aspirations before last year’s game, and the Hubs’ performance was a dud.

“I didn’t talk much to the kids about the importance of the (South) game and we just did not show up last year,” Cunningham said.

With days off Monday and Tuesday due to Hurricane Sandy, Cunningham didn’t get a chance to instill in his players the relevance of this game until Wednesday.

“We’re not worried about the playoffs, we’re only worried about South,” Cunningham said. “We see the steps South has taken in the last three years. I’m happy to see that side of town take off.”

One of the reasons South has turned into a formidable foe has been the play of junior running back Isiaha Smith, who is punishing the school and Washington County rushing records this season.

“We have to stop (Smith) and South as a team,”  Anderson said. “I’m confident in our defense. We are in this position because of our defense.”

The Hubs are known as a high-scoring team that gets few accolades defensively. But that has changed recently as the Hubs have allowed only 25 points combined in the last three games.

Another of the stalwarts defensively has been senior linebacker Kyle Hewlett, who has 30 tackles for the Hubs.

“We’ll come out and play with confidence,” Hewlett said. “The defensive play from both teams will be critical. It will be a case of who stops who.”

Cunningham said people who aren’t on the inside with North have the wrong impression of the Hubs.

“Our defense has the ability to flip the field at any time,” he said. “When that happens, we have the opportunity to make (the opponent) fight to get out of the red zone.”

Note: Junior tackle Aaron Miller, a starter before being diagnosed with leukemia, was back at home last week after finishing a second round of chemotherapy at Johns Hopkins. Cunningham said Miller returned to the hospital Monday for a third round, which will last for 10 days. Miller will miss tonight’s game, but Cunningham said Miller is making great progress and could very well be playing football next year.

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