The North Hagerstown football team has adopted a similar creed.
“Bigger, Faster, Stronger,” said North coach Dan Cunningham. “We have the makings of a solid team. We lost a lot from last year, but the losses have been filled with players as good. We have a ‘next man up’ philosophy here.”
Which all makes for some interesting time ahead for the Hubs after finishing 9-2 and earning a Class 3A playoff berth last year.
This year’s team has similar aspirations, just with some new faces in different places.
“Tre Anderson is a tough man to replace at tailback,” Cunningham said. “But we have Preston Carey as the next man up. He played some as a sophomore and has experience.”
Gabe Fridgen was one of the top cornerbacks in the area. His void will be filled by Isaiah Keyes, who will be moving from linebacker and adding more speed to the position.
Lineman Trey King graduated, but will be replaced by Aaron Miller, who missed last season because of a bout with leukemia, but returns healthy, stronger and motivated.
“Everyone we lost, we have someone at least an equal caliber replacing them,” Cunningham said. “The strength of this team will be defense. We scored a lot last year, but the defense set the tone.”
North features the same potent offense, a “nasty” bunch on defense and what Cunningham calls the Hubs’ “secret weapon.”
“Mark Grunberg is a game changer,” Cunningham said. “He is a kicker who puts the ball into the end zone consistently. He flips the field in our favor. It used to be we always wanted to have the ball first. With him, he kicks and the other team starts with their backs against the goal post.”
Keyes will be the Hubs’ featured runner in a deep backfield that could feature up to seven runners.
“Keyes is the man,” Cunningham said. “He’s being looked at by a number of schools, but he hasn’t had any offers yet. But they will be coming.”
Carey will be his running mate and Austin Stone is slated at fullback. Colton Wilkens, Calvin Benbry, Raughn Carter and Tucker Brugh will get playing time.
“With a group like that, the problem is going to be trying to make most of them happy,” Cunningham said. “They will have to do what’s best for the team.”
Nick Karlen returns at quarterback and is a year older, smarter and more seasoned. Former Saint James quarterback Bobby Brennan will be his backup.
“Nick threw for 1,000 yards last year and had a great summer,” Cunningham said. “He led our team to a 7-3 record in the Maryland state tourament and quarterbacked our national team in Cleveland. He has to be focused and run the team, but there is no pressure. He’s proven he’s a winner.”
Karlen, Keyes and Co. need help to succeed.
“It all starts up front,” Cunningham said. “We lost three linemen from last year and we are still bigger.”