The defense just wasn't there

TDHelmick

Hall of Fame Poster
May 29, 2001
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To sum up this football season in a nutshell, I go back to the night before Fort Hill was set to host Cathedral Prep back in late September. While talking with one of the FH coaches, who shall remain nameless, I asked him what he though of our chances against them. He replied, "Our defense just isn't there."

Granted the FH offense at Catoctin had 5 turnovers and a 12 yard punt, which led to a shut out. But I have been saying it all year that this defense was susceptible. Susceptible to both the run and pass. There was no way to tell just how far the defense had improved since that 48-14 beat down to Cathedral Prep because FH had no measuring stick. After the CP game, FH just played a full array of super bad teams. Last night was the first time FH faced a legit team since CP. In the end we can say it again...The defense just isn't there.

Catoctin was calling plays and they all gashed FH. Up the gut, off tackle, on the perimeter and throwing the ball. There was zero pass rush. Give credit to Catoctin, they were quicker, more physical and had a great game plan. But the Cougars were able to do that because they possessed balance. Something FH just never has offensively.

There is no way to point fingers at any one player and even if you could that is not something I would ever do on a social media platform. This was a team effort win or lose. This wasn't a case of FH just needing one great player here or there. They had holes in many spots. When you look out on the field when FH is on defense, there wasn't one single player who played full time on that side of the ball the year before. This team was as short on experience as possible...all 11 starters were gone. They also lost 8 starters on offense. On top of all that gone were both the long time offensive and defensive coaches. FH could not overcome it. At the same time, fans should be proud of these kids for fighting through it and getting to 11 wins. Fortunately at Fort Hill, it's a state championship or bust these days. So it hurts, the seniors hurt, and it should. That is the way winning programs should react.

People asked me what happened at Catoctin, the narrative was pretty simple. FH got the ball first deep in their own end of the field, went 3 and out and punted for 12 yards. A few plays later and 7-0. FH gets the ball, a few plays later fumble, scoop and score and 14-0. The next drive starts moving the ball into Catoctin territory, fumble. A few plays later 21-0. FH gets the ball again, fumble. The first four possessions were 12 yard punt, fumble, fumble, fumble. At that point FH was out of any game plan or rhythm.

Was Catoctin 41 points better than FH? No, but on a night like this yes. Five turnovers will do that. But let's be clear...take away the turnovers and even the home field advantage and Catoctin still beats FH soundly. They were the better team no question. They owned FH on the line of scrimmage, both sides of the ball.

It's easy to put blame on coaches any time you lose. I can't do that. There was no out coaching what Catoctin had on FH. The Sentinel offense was definitely a let down. The defense though was not a surprise. We all knew Catoctin was going to score points before the game started. FH could not match them especially with all the turnovers.

The only disappointment I would put on FH coaching was the very end of the 2nd quarter. Down 28-0, FH had the ball around the Catoctin 45 yard line after a good kickoff return and 15 yard penalty. With 1:30 left and 3 times outs I told my friend sitting beside me that FH doesn't have a 2 minute offense. They will run the QB to the sideline to get the play call, use every second of the play clock and hand it off. They did just that. Even worse, they made no effort to score either a field goal or a touchdown. Didn't use one single time out. Just let the clock run out. Look, it was 28-0 at that point. Catoctin was getting the ball to open the 2nd half. You have to come up with something there, if a FG at least, to give the kids some type of momentum even if very little. Instead, I think the FH staff just chucked it in at that point. The team followed suite. I don't think it would have mattered, but the attitude there summed up the lost cause. This one was over by halftime.

My X's and O's hangs ups with FH are not about the Catoctin game. They are just the same ole, same ole that last through out the entire season dating back eight years. When you play super poor teams where you know 100% beforehand you can name the score...if you are not going to work on the passing game at all then don't try to pass the ball in the tight games either. FH averaged about 2 passes a game this year. So when it comes time to pass the OL can't pass block, the QB looks like a deer in headlights and the receivers don't know how to run routes. FH is a running team, we all get that, we all want that. But you have to at least practice throwing the ball at some point in a real game. The passing route tree at FH is extremely dysfunctional. Not only do the receivers not sprint crisp routes, they are all going 15-20 yards deep and usually bunched up. Is there ever a chance for a short pass somewhere? Never, no screens, no dump pass, no swing pass, nothing in the flats. FH ran the wildcat with Stubbs on one series at Catoctin. That was only the 2nd time all year they tried it. If you plan on using that you have to at break it out more in the regular season. Same with shot gun where Danny King fumbled on the 2nd possession and Catoctin scooped and scored.

I'm not going to bang the schedule debate again at length. I felt FH had a good schedule to start this year. It just turned out that Morgantown, Hedgesville, Southern (all playoff teams last year) went into complete meltdown. Mountain Ridge and Alco the same. People can say that FH didn't play anybody outside of CP and maybe a mediocre Hollidaysburg and that is true. But neither did Catoctin nor Dunbar - the two teams playing for a title next week. This is 1A. Get it? On the same token, all this talk about how great Cathedral Prep was...well they were top of the line compared to any other opponents Class 1A teams played. But they were not the Green Bay Packers. They beat FH 48-14 because....the defense just wasn't there.

I personally thank every single FH senior player for their effort and for continuing to carry on the tradition. Great bunch of human beings who will go on to be successful. The good news for the FH faithful is this...Fort Hill will be back to competing for a state championship next year. Count on it. That is what they do. Much more experience and speed coming back. Expect nothing less.

To all the Catoctin people that may read this...go give Dunbar hell. You have a really nice team with a great coach. They get after people. Congrats and good luck in Annapolis. On top of that, thumbs up to the stadium and fans as well. I wish FH had a student section like that. Great community support. Thurmont and Cumberland have way more in common than both sides realize.
 
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theprocessworks

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Oct 8, 2014
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I did not watch the game. I listened to it. I turned it off when they gave the football to the fullback, down 28-0, with 3 time outs. There is no excuse for that. You play to win! This preparation starts in January and kids bust their asses for 8 months to play football in December. Knowing you are outmanned and that you are going to lose is not an excuse. you pull out all you have to score before halftime. No where at any level of this game is what the staff did there acceptable. Other than that, I'll just say sometimes you just aren't the better team. Hats off to the Cougars! I believe Catoctin will beat Dunbar and be state champs. Those seniors and Van Meter are champions! The 2018 state champions! They were part of the 55-6 beatdown of Catoctin, so they have been on both sides of it.
 

Waggle Pass

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Apr 5, 2002
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Cumberland, Md via Pittsburgh, Pa
The Catoctin players said in the Frederick Post that the 55-6 game was their motivation. They hung a banner up with that score at the start of post season workouts and it was up all summer. Brought it back for this week. I would think the returning FH players will have a similar motivation.

Todd said in the Times News that he was out coached. Good to see him admit that in print. Maybe this will cause him to look a bit deeper and realize that the offense needs tweaked a bit. A big taste of humble pie may be just what they need.
 
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Bakedbean6

Junior Varsity Reader
Nov 22, 2017
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Hopefully they get a more competitive schedule instead of sisters of the poor....not saying they need to schedule goliaths every game but decent competitive teams so they can deal with some adversity....this years team was the worst in a decade maybe two....won 11 games because of a patsy schedule....even our fans knew it look at attendance at home games and playoffs outside of homecoming and prep and catoctin....
 

Bakedbean6

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Nov 22, 2017
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We have a qb coming up from jv who can sling it so hopefully our new coach will adapt and b more versatile and also have two safety with ability to play cover 2 man under or some mixture of zone...and still keep the preparation and workouts that Todd had....the next coach should add some more to what we already have so we would have more options when the fh basics ain’t working
 

novaunicorn

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Aug 19, 2005
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Do we all know three plays and a cloud of dust saying..of course we do. Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, NotreDame, USC...all these universities have storied programs going back forever and they were notorious for running the ball. Fast forward none of them snap the ball under center, they all run a spread style, yet...get this people, they all run the ball!!!! Ohio State's running back moved into second place all time on the Ohio State list trailing only Archie Griffin...and they throw the ball all over the field. Running a spread style does not prohibit you from running the ball, in fact it opens up the running game. NONE of these schools or anybody I have seen this entire year has a qb running back and forth to the sidelines to get play calls! All of these teams audibilize at the line of scrimmage depending on how the defense lines up. FH calls a play, rushed to get if off, and there is NO time to adjust anything.
Did M'burg run a wishbone style forever and do it well and win a lot...yes. Did they see change a comin' and realize a spread was the way to go before anybody else around here...yes they did. Would they have ever been what they are now if they had said "this is what we do, it works, we've done it 80 years and we're not changing"...hell no! It's about work, growth, meeting new challenges in order to improve. FH took years to get on board with the Wing-T and now they can't get out of their own heads that there is no other way.
I along with all the apparent "non-true, not young, not vibrant" fans have gotten so sick of the boring ball that FH plays that I too skip games. Why the hell would a bunch of young vibrant enthusiastic students go to a FH game, unless you are in the band? There is no atmosphere at FH and you can blame that on the fans or you can own it and say you need to be part of a solution and fix it..or just sob and whine about it.
I hardly think if Dunbar loses the coach will blame his fan base, or lack thereof.
I find it very telling when you have people drive two hours, stand around two hours, sit around for another two hours thru a humiliating defeat, then drive home two hours, only to find out the coach praised Catoctin fans and didn't mention anything I just said. Perhaps he should apply for a job at Catoctin if the thinks it is so wonderful.
Lastly, all of you who thought FH was going to walk over Catoctin who now think that Catoctin is going to beat Dunbar are going to be very disappointed. FH is not a good barometer as to how good or bad Catoctin is. Dunbar will have a plan, they will be prepared, they will make adjustments, they won't be manhandled, they will throw the kitchen sink at Catoctin, and they won't be planning on quitting or giving up by halftime. Catoctin had motivation against FH for blowing them out, which I have said many times is a mistake to do to any team...this time Catoctin gets to take a turn having the last laugh. Dunbar has redemption on their mind, they didn't get to the final last year so they are highly motivated to win, unlike FH was.
I have no skin in the game, I wish both teams well. I would put money on Dunbar
 
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FHHSAHS

Hall of Fame Poster
Nov 27, 2001
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I still think Dunbar is several tds better than catoctin.
 

BIGREDFAN08

Junior Varsity Reader
Nov 27, 2019
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We have a qb coming up from jv who can sling it so hopefully our new coach will adapt and b more versatile and also have two safety with ability to play cover 2 man under or some mixture of zone...and still keep the preparation and workouts that Todd had....the next coach should add some more to what we already have so we would have more options when the fh basics ain’t working
Who has a quarter back coming in? And what new coach????
 

FHHSAHS

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Nov 27, 2001
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I still think Dunbar is several tds better than catoctin.

That sounds like I'm saying Catoctin wasn't good.. And that is definitely not what I meant. I just think Dunbar defense will not be surprised by a more diverse offense. And be able to diversify their own offense better as well..
 

Lagmeister

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Nov 2, 2007
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I believe if catoctin plays like they did Friday they will be the 1A champ

They had a lineman limp off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Could be real important against a team like Dunbar. I don't think Catoctin is all that deep in talent.
 

RedPride97

All State Poster
Oct 9, 2018
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They had a lineman limp off the field with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Could be real important against a team like Dunbar. I don't think Catoctin is all that deep in talent.
We really just have to wait and see what happens. If they come out fired up i think they will do it
 

4R341

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Nov 14, 2005
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Wow... I knew there was talk about it being his last year... is that for sure he will no longer be the coach of fort hill?
It hearsay until an official announcement is made. Although, that could explain the overwhelming outburst of emotion after the game. You have to admit, that was a lot even for Appel.
 
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CumberlandHSFB

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Dec 13, 2018
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It hearsay until an official announcement is made. Although, that could explain the overwhelming outburst of emotion after the game. You have to admit, that was a lot even for Appel.
Considering that he was days away from leaving before this season. I'd say its 95% that he's gone, and honestly I think he wishes he could've went out with his son
 
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Lagmeister

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Nov 2, 2007
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It hearsay until an official announcement is made. Although, that could explain the overwhelming outburst of emotion after the game. You have to admit, that was a lot even for Appel.

If he couldn't get 9, he sure as hell wanted 8 championships. I would be shocked if he leaves with the legacy of this loss as his final game. I wouldn't be surprised if he waits until he can assess the viability of another run, as to whether Catoctin or Dunbar would return in strength. If he thinks his team has a shot.... My guess is he's back. (Been wrong before.)
 

BIGREDFAN08

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Nov 27, 2019
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It hearsay until an official announcement is made. Although, that could explain the overwhelming outburst of emotion after the game. You have to admit, that was a lot even for Appel.
True! We shall see..whatever happens I hope the next person in line to take over can keep it going for us! We put up some very good seasons under apple. Hope to continue!
 
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novaunicorn

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Aug 19, 2005
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Wow... I knew there was talk about it being his last year... is that for sure he will no longer be the coach of fort hill?
When his son graduated that was supposed to be his last year...I think he has too much pride to go out with his team being called quitters with no heart...we'll see.
 
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ESPN1230

Junior Varsity Reader
Sep 1, 2014
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The fifth turnover was a crap call, his entire body was down, but it would've have mattered anyway. Coach McKinney was sorely missed this year, but they still shouldn't have abandoned the 6-2. Rushing four just never got it done.
 

Tony54

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Nov 17, 2018
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Do we all know three plays and a cloud of dust saying..of course we do. Ohio State, Michigan, Alabama, Auburn, NotreDame, USC...all these universities have storied programs going back forever and they were notorious for running the ball. Fast forward none of them snap the ball under center, they all run a spread style, yet...get this people, they all run the ball!!!! Ohio State's running back moved into second place all time on the Ohio State list trailing only Archie Griffin...and they throw the ball all over the field. Running a spread style does not prohibit you from running the ball, in fact it opens up the running game. NONE of these schools or anybody I have seen this entire year has a qb running back and forth to the sidelines to get play calls! All of these teams audibilize at the line of scrimmage depending on how the defense lines up. FH calls a play, rushed to get if off, and there is NO time to adjust anything.
Did M'burg run a wishbone style forever and do it well and win a lot...yes. Did they see change a comin' and realize a spread was the way to go before anybody else around here...yes they did. Would they have ever been what they are now if they had said "this is what we do, it works, we've done it 80 years and we're not changing"...hell no! It's about work, growth, meeting new challenges in order to improve. FH took years to get on board with the Wing-T and now they can't get out of their own heads that there is no other way.
I along with all the apparent "non-true, not young, not vibrant" fans have gotten so sick of the boring ball that FH plays that I too skip games. Why the hell would a bunch of young vibrant enthusiastic students go to a FH game, unless you are in the band? There is no atmosphere at FH and you can blame that on the fans or you can own it and say you need to be part of a solution and fix it..or just sob and whine about it.
I hardly think if Dunbar loses the coach will blame his fan base, or lack thereof.
I find it very telling when you have people drive two hours, stand around two hours, sit around for another two hours thru a humiliating defeat, then drive home two hours, only to find out the coach praised Catoctin fans and didn't mention anything I just said. Perhaps he should apply for a job at Catoctin if the thinks it is so wonderful.
Lastly, all of you who thought FH was going to walk over Catoctin who now think that Catoctin is going to beat Dunbar are going to be very disappointed. FH is not a good barometer as to how good or bad Catoctin is. Dunbar will have a plan, they will be prepared, they will make adjustments, they won't be manhandled, they will throw the kitchen sink at Catoctin, and they won't be planning on quitting or giving up by halftime. Catoctin had motivation against FH for blowing them out, which I have said many times is a mistake to do to any team...this time Catoctin gets to take a turn having the last laugh. Dunbar has redemption on their mind, they didn't get to the final last year so they are highly motivated to win, unlike FH was.
I have no skin in the game, I wish both teams well. I would put money on Dunbar
well Said!
 

ConeyIsland

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Oct 9, 2017
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Just can't see him going out on that performance. Plus the team should be better next season.

Yeah it doesn't seem like he's the type of dude who would just roll out after taking a loss like that. He seems to really have a chip on his shoulder, so I could really see it going either way.

If he does retire as head coach, who takes his place? You guys should have a better feel for this than me. I don't know all the names of the guys on staff but I know a couple of them personally. Some names I've heard thrown around are Shook, Alkire and Brode... which I guess those 3 make the most sense as top candidates. I guess it's possible Randy Stewart could be a guy, but not likely. Plus, I'd rather he come back to the dark side anyways and try to rebuild Alco if Hansel only goes one more year.

The wrench in the cogs here is your new Principal. I work in a different type of P.E. than public education, so I'm not exactly sure what the chain of command looks like when it comes to choosing a new head coach, but I'm sure she is part of the process, so that's an interesting factor because she's not a FH cat with standard old school bias.
 

CumberlandHSFB

All County Poster
Dec 13, 2018
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Yeah it doesn't seem like he's the type of dude who would just roll out after taking a loss like that. He seems to really have a chip on his shoulder, so I could really see it going either way.

If he does retire as head coach, who takes his place? You guys should have a better feel for this than me. I don't know all the names of the guys on staff but I know a couple of them personally. Some names I've heard thrown around are Shook, Alkire and Brode... which I guess those 3 make the most sense as top candidates. I guess it's possible Randy Stewart could be a guy, but not likely. Plus, I'd rather he come back to the dark side anyways and try to rebuild Alco if Hansel only goes one more year.

The wrench in the cogs here is your new Principal. I work in a different type of P.E. than public education, so I'm not exactly sure what the chain of command looks like when it comes to choosing a new head coach, but I'm sure she is part of the process, so that's an interesting factor because she's not a FH cat with standard old school bias.
Shook is the guy. Appel could very well return, but considering how close he apparently was to quitting before the season began. I wouldnt count on seeing him next year
 
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