Sentinels Shock Allegany 14-12
Steve Luse
Cumberland Sunday Times
November 11, 1984

In the previous four years the Fort Hill High Sentinels weren't even supposed to be able to keep the score close in the annual Homecoming Game against the Allegany Campers. They did hang close, but they couldn't win.

On Saturday it was once again a situation where not many people other than the faithful Fort Hill followers felt the Sentinels even had a chance. They did and won 14-12 in what can go down as one of the biggest upsets in front of perhaps the largest crowd ever to attend a game in Fort Hill Stadium.

The headline on the J. Suter Kegg's Tapping the Keg column last week stated that the Fort Hill-Allegany games are as unpredictable as the weather.

The weatherman predicted it could rain on the game and it didn't. The prognosticators predicted the Campers would win. They didn't.

A crowd estimated at about 12,000 fans turned out on the overcast afternoon to see what was expected to be Allegany's tuneup for a return trip to the Maryland Class B playoffs to defend its title. Instead they saw the Sentinels win something that seemed only a very remote possibility heading into the weekend.

Fort Hill earned a berth in the Maryland Class A playoffs along with claiming the Cumberland Valley Athletic League title and a share of the City crown

After last week's 30-2 loss to Magruder the only way Fort Hill could get into the playoffs was to upset Allegany and have top ranked South Carroll lose to a Westminster team that had won only one game. Well Westminster did its part by beating South 21-0 Friday night to open the door and give the Sentinels extra incentive on top of what is already built into a City game.

Fort Hill is expected to be fourth-seeded in the playoffs and could be playing next Saturday at John F. Kennedy High in Montgomery County, depending on the outcome of other weekend games. Magruder defeated Northwood 34-0 to win the Class B title.

The Sentinels started the season under new head coach Dick Bittner with five straight wins and the Fort Hill fans were already talking about beating Allegany and being No. 1. Then came a 37-27 loss to Bishop Walsh that wasn't even as close as the score indicated. Then for the next three weeks it just didn't look like the team that had gotten off to that great start. They managed to beat a weak South Hagerstown squad but then came back-to-back losses to Keyser 26-0 and Magruder. The Sentinels were beating themselves with the same kind of mistakes they were getting away with against the other teams.

At the same time Allegany was rolling over everyone after a close call in an 18-15 win over Bishop Walsh and had broken the City record for most consecutive wins with 21. They were 9-0 and would beat out unbeaten Magruder for the Region I Class B title with a win.


The Yardstick
Fort Hill
First Downs Rush
First Downs Pass
First Downs Penalty
Total First Downs
Passes Attempted
Passes Completed
Passes Intercepted By
Yards Passing
Net Yards Rushing
Total Offense


Since that victory over BW, the Campers had made very few mistakes in literally running over the opposition and coach Jim Refosco had been calling off his starters after three quarters.

But mistakes have been the story behind the past four Homecoming contests going down to the wire and yesterday they spelled defeat for the Campers as the Sentinels must have gotten most of theirs out of their system the previous two weeks.

Allegany lost two fumbles, had one pass intercepted and drew four 15-yard penalties. Fort Hill's only turnovers were two interceptions and the Sentinels only had two five-yard penalties.

Time was running out on the Campers, but perhaps the biggest mistake came from where it was least expected with only 30 seconds left in the game.

Senior Danny Porter, who will be remembered as one of the greatest running backs to ever perform in the City of Cumberland, blasted through the line for a four-yard gain only to lose the ball at the Fort Hill 42-yard line. Senior Blaine Shewbridge, who was honored as the Defensive Player of the Game, pounced on it and all the Sentinels had to do was run out the clock on the next play.

Almost everyone felt that the only way Fort Hill stood a chance was with Rich Powell passing the football. But Bittner had a differenct game plan and the Sentinels won the game on the ground with power football eating up the clock.

Junior Mike Gelles, whose main role was to do his John Riggins imitation when the Sentinels got near the goal line most of the season, was handed the ball 19 times yesterday and responded with 84 yards and both Fort Hill touchdowns. He was honored as the "Offensive Player of the Game".

The Sentinels moved 161 yards on the ground and Powell completed only two of five passes for 10 yards.

Surprisingly Allegany came out throwing the ball instead of sticking to the basics of just handing the ball to Porter. But the Fort Hill defense may have created that by doing a good job of keying on the standout tailback.

Held to only 26 yards in the first half, Porter began to show his stuff after the intermission and finished with 126 yards on 24 to win the area rushing title to go with the scoring crown he already had locked up. But it was too late.

Allegany finished with 211 yards rushing and Scott Shaffer completed four of 15 passes for 58 yards as the Campers had the edge in total offense with 269 to 171 for Fort Hill.

Neither team could move for a first down in their first possessions and Fort Hill had its only turnover when Kirk Robinette picked off a Powell pass with a diving catch at the Sentinels' 23-yard line with 6:42 left in the first quarter.


Individual Story


Mike Gelles
Jeff Shambaugh
Rich Powell
Chuck Brehm
Danny Porter
Rich Jessie
Kirk Robinette
Scott Shaffer


Rich Powell  
Scott Shaffer  
Danny Porter  


Darnell Powell
Troy McKenzie
Rich Jessie


Blaine Shewbridge 9, Mike Gelles 7, Wayne Steckman, Todd Helmick, Steve Michael, Randy Marrale 5 each, Steve Hess 4, Troy McKenzie, Darnell Powell 3, Richard Boyd 2, Kevin Holderby, Tony Nery, John Snyder one each
Robbie Rice 10, Steve Rice, Kirk Robinette 8 each, Dennis Douds 7, Tim Wharton 6, Eric Whetzel 5, Gary Athey 2, Todd Smith, Danny Porter, Richard Jessie, Eugene Taylor, Tim Hartsock 1.


Two Porter plunges gaines only four yards and on third down Robinette moved two more yards up the middle. Shaffer then took the ball on a rollout and made the first down by inches with a four-yard run.

Porter then blasted for four yards and a four-yard run by Shaffer pushed the pigskin to the four-yard line. Porter was then stacked up for only a one-yard gain, but Shaffer came through on fourth down again with a three-yard sneak to the one.

Porter was unable to push it across on the next play so Shaffer tried the sneak again and scored with 2:05 left in the first quarter. The Campers faked the kick and a run by Porter for two points failed. The 23-yard drive took 10 plays and used up four minutes and 37 seconds.

Fort Hill was forced to punt after failing to get a first down in its third possession and on Allegany's next play it looked like it was going to be at least 12-0.

Richard Jessie, who may be the fastest runner in Allegany County on a track, took a Shaffer pass from defender Randy Marrale but could not keep himself in bounds after the 36-yard reception that had Allegany at the Fort Hill 35. The Campers moved nine more yards on two Porter runs and a Shaffer rollout, but a clipping penalty on the third down pushed them back 15 yards and forced a punt.

Allegany was penalized 15 yards for interference on the fair catch and Fort Hill started its first touchdown drive at its own 33-yard line. Gelles lost one yard on first down, but then Rich Powell scrambled nine yards after failing to find an open receiver. Jeff Shambaugh then gained two yards to give the Sentinels their initial first down.

Rich Powell then found Darnell Powell with a 12-yard pass and another first down at the Allegany 45. A screen pass to McKenzie lost two yards, but a key personal foul call against Allegany on a four-yard gain by Shambaugh created a first down at the Campers' 26.

Gelles, a 6-0, 190-pound fullback, broke right up the middle for 10 yards. After a one-yard gain by Gelles on first down, Shambaugh went outside for seven yards. A two-yard run by Gelles set up a fourth down situation, but Powell was able to sneak for the yard and a first down at the six.

Gelles, who entered the game with 11 touchdowns, was then handed the ball four straight times and scored on a one-yard leap over the line on fourth down with 2:55 left in the half. Shewbridge kicked the extra point that resulted in the 7-6 halftime lead.

Refosco predicted that if the game was close at halftime it would be another barnbarner and it was that.

Sophomore defensive back Kevin Holderby, who broke up what looked like a touchdown pass to Jessie late in this first half, came up with what was perhaps the biggest defensive play on the second play of the second half.

Jessie took the ball from Porter on a double reverse and looked like he was off to the races. But somehow Holderby timed his dive perfectly and got the Allegany speedster by the ankles at the 15-yard line after the 51-yard run. Porter was thrown for a loss for one of the few times this season on first and then Shaffer threw an incomplete pass. Porter then gained two yards, but a pass to Jessie lost a yard and turned the ball back to Fort Hill at the 16.

Allegany lost the ball again on downs in its next possession at the Fort Hill 45.

Eugene Taylor picked off a Powell pass at the Fort Hill 39, but Porter fumbled on third down after two incomplete passes and Steve Michael recovered for Fort Hill.

A Rich Powell sneak for five yards and two Shambaugh runs of three and six yards gave the Sentinels a first down at the Alco 26. Gelles gained nine yards on the next two plays and then broke up the middle for a 16-yard gain to the one yard line.

Gelles scored the touchdown on the next play to open the fourth quarter and Shewbridge kicked the extra point.

But Allegany wasn't ready to quit and there had to be a feeling that Porter had to break on sometime.

After a 20-yard kickoff return by Mike Kline to the Allegany 30-yard line, Robinette started the drive with a nine-yard run up the middle. Porter than finally got past the Fort Hill line and went 40 yards before being hauled down at the Sentinels' 21.

Porter was then given the ball two more times for 14 yards and a first down at the five. Robinette blasted for two yards and Porter scored the touchdown on a three-yard run through the left side with 9:04 left in the game. The Campers had to go for the two points and Gelles made the big defensive play, stopping Porter at the one.

The Campers forced Fort Hill to punt after three plays, but were guilty of a roughing the punter penalty that gave the Sentinels a first down at the Allegany 44.

Runs by Shambaugh of four and 14 yards moved the ball to the 25 and then Gelles ripped through on a 10-yard run to the 15. Three more carries by Gelles gained eight yards and it was decision time for Bittner. He elected to go for a first down instead of the field goal, but the option by Rich Powell, after a fake, failed and Allegany had the ball on its own six with 3:30 left.

Porter ripped off 19 yards on first down and gained 10 yards on the next three plays for a first down at the 34. Jessie gained 12 yards on a pass from Shaffer and then got nine more on the double reverse to the Fort Hill 46.

Shaffer lost four yards on a scramble on the next play and then came Porter's fumble.

Shewbridge was Fort Hill's leading tackler with nine and also did an excellent job blocking up the middle for Gelles, who was the second leading tackler with seven.


Fort Hill 0 7 0 7 -14
Allegany 6 0 0 6 -12
A - Scott Shaffer 1 run (run failed)
FH - Mike Gelles 1 run (Blaine Shewbridge kick)
FH - Gelles 1 run (Shewbridge kick)
A - Danny Porter 3 run (run failed)