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They're lined up at Liberty to fill a void LOCAL SPORTS: HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW


It was a casual slip of the tongue.

"Ryan Pagels is back at quarterback, he's a junior," Liberty third-year coach Ken Johnson said, rattling off his returning players.

"And Brandon Scarborough is at halfback." A short pause followed before he added: "Check that, he transferred to Milford Mill."

The roll call continued with a handful of offensive weapons that still has Liberty the talk of the county football scene this year.

But what about the loss of Scarborough, who last season rushed for a county-leading 1,111 yards, scored six touchdowns, provided strong leadership and had opponents continually gearing their game plans toward stopping him?

"Losing a kid like Brandon is obviously a tough void to fill. But if there was ever a year we were blessed with some backs, this is the year," Johnson said.

Another plus to the situation is that Scarborough moved out of the county before the preseason camps began.

"He's made the transition to Milford Mill, which is important, and it also occurred early enough in the summer that we could make the necessary adjustments as smoothly as possible," Johnson said.

In years past, a Liberty team would have been devastated with such a big loss. This season, there's enough talent to make the loss less painful.

"Scarborough was a leader and a great player and it's going to hurt them for a while," said South Carroll coach Gene Brown. "But it's also a thing that might bring the kids closer together and rallying on the fact he's not there."

Every player in the Lions' wing-T offense will have to add to their role.

Senior fullback Bill Shaffer was expected to carry the ball 10 to 12 times a game, but instead likely will get it 18 to 20 times. In six games last season, he rushed for just under 500 yards and averaged 6.8 yards.

Junior Josh Denning also will get a few more carries than once planned. The Lions will throw more with Pagels having played a season and senior wide-out Tyrone Ellis a threat any time he touches the ball.

And while Liberty looks real strong on paper, the usual county powers -- South Carroll and Westminster -- have new faces at a lot of different places.

Both teams lost their starting quarterback, top receiver and top runner to graduation. All six were on last year's All-County team. That fact alone should help Liberty's defense in county competition.

"We have a lot of new kids learning the system," said Brown at South Carroll.

"We graduated 19 seniors," said Westminster coach Tim Ebersole. "We have a lot of first-year type starters picking up the system."

The player to watch at South Carroll is tailback Mike Chenoweth, a workhorse who will carry the load while sophomore quarterback Lee Windsor gets adjusted. The Cavaliers' defense should make some big plays with Bryce Baker, a first-team All-County linebacker, returning along with Tom Lewis and Chenoweth at the defensive end spots.

The Westminster offense doesn't have the big-play capability it did a year ago when it averaged 27 points a game. This year's defense doesn't have the same size it had last year, but Ebersole said its aggressiveness and quickness will more than make up for it. Senior Denny Bowers will be a factor on both sides of the ball, lining up at tight end on offense and playing some at linebacker and as a down lineman on defense.

Definite strides are being made at North Carroll. Third-year coach Bill Rumbaugh said seniors Bryan Hall and Mike Green will be running behind a totally revamped offensive line and wide receiver/safety Jason Gelb is capable of making big plays on both sides of the ball.

"It's going to be a dogfight every week," Ebersole promises of the county race.

And when the last week arrives this season, Liberty's game at North Carroll should attract as much attention and as the usual Westminster-South Carroll showdown.


Francis Scott Key coach Mike Coons sees the balance of power in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League returning to its old form with Boonsboro dropping back to the pack.

Last season, the Warriors finished tied with Middletown atop the MVAL with an 8-1 mark. Smithsburg (8-2 overall, 7-2 in the MVAL) and Walkersville (7-3, 6-3) are also among the elite.

Key went 1-8 in the league and 2-8 overall last season, but should improve on that with a lot of experienced talent returning. Coons has promised to let the wins and losses take care of themselves with the goal set on improving every day.

One of the most exciting players to watch in the entire county this season is 5-foot-6, 155-pound tailback Cortney Woodyard. Coons will find a lot of different ways to get him the ball this season.

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