Hill Coaches Felt It Would Be Their Day
Cumberland Sunday Times
November 11, 1984
coaching staff of the Fort Hill football team thought
yesterday could very well be their day when they picked
up the newspaper and saw that South Carroll somehow
lost to a weak Westminster team 21-0.
I saw that score," said assistant coach Barry Lattimer,
"I got a feeling things might be on our side today.
That gave us a golden opportunity to get in the playoffs.
We had to capitalize."
did they capitalize.
one of the biggest upsets in city football history,
the Fort Hill Sentinels shocked the city of Cumberland
and the Allegany High Campers 14-12. Defense, defense,
and a little more defense won this game for Fort Hill
and first-year coach Dick Bittner wanted his defenders
to bask in the glory of a Homecoming victory.
you imagine how hard these boys played and how good
it must make them feel to shut down and defeat a great
football team like Allegany? Coming off three losses
out of the last four games, giving up 16 touchdowns
in those games, and then to come into Fort Hill Stadium
to beat the defending state champions who have not been
beaten in two years...well, it's just an amazing thing.
I have never been prouder of a group of people in my
life than I am now of these boys."
was also quick to praise his offensive line that engineered
two time-consuming drives. "All of our coaches
deserve credit for preparing our boys so well. But that
offensive line? Oh my goodness, coach Steve Lewis did
a great job. Wayne Steckman, Troy McKenzie, Kenny Valentine,
Jim Straw, Todd Helmick, Blaine Shewbridge and Scott
Twigg provided us with the greatest blocking of the
year. They were tremendous."
the Sentinels coming into the second half leading 7-6,
it seemed they were playing with a lot of confidence.
Bittner agreed to a point. "We were confident all
day long. It wasn't a matter of realizing after the
first half that Allegany put their pants on just like
we do. It was a matter of our boys being confident and
determined the entire week and the entire game."
was funny Bittner would bring up pants, because the
matter was a focal point as the Sentinels donned bright
scarlet pants for the first time in ten years (Bell
the Sentinels began their long journey down the steps
from Fort Hill High School to the stadium, if one didn't
know better he would have guessed the Campers were about
to go up against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
feels the new threads may have given his team an emotional
lift. "John Broll, a young man who has helped our
football program all year suggested it to me. We had
brand new shirts and brand new red pants and John Broll
talked me into wearing them. I guess the boys figured
if we were going to look like a million bucks, we might
as well play like a million. It probably perked them
up and if it did, John Broll gets the credit."
really knew what won the game for Fort Hill and he again
credited his defense. "Our players were poised
and they did not make mistakes. Steve Hess and Wayne
Steckman were tremendous at the ends. Coach Dee Kalbaugh
deserves a lot of credit for the work he did with them
Shewbridge was magnificent and along with Helmick, George
Creamer, and Steve Michael spearheaded our defensive
was in on nine tackles and was named the game's outstanding
defensive player. He was in on the stops on both of
Allegany's two-point conversion attempts and he also
was in on big hits when Allegany had the ball deep in
he was the top defensive player, the most important
item to keep in mind about Shewbridge is the talented
toe that was the difference in Fort Hill's 10-7 win
over Martinsburg early in the season. The Shewbridge
toe was the difference again yesterday - kicking two
was very nervous," admitted the six-foot 200-pound
tackle. "I just had to concentrate on kicking the
ball and things worked out."
cited the second quarter scoring drive in which Fort
Hill marched 67 yards on 15 plays. Not only did it produce
a Mike Gelles touchdown, it knocked 6:43 off the clock.
"That drive was a key in my opinion. When we controlled
the line like that, for so long, I knew we could win."
Shewbridge think Allegany took the Sentinels too lightly?
"No. You could tell out on the field they knew
it would be a tough game. This one always is for both
Gelles rushed for 84 yards on 19 carries and scored
both Fort Hill touchdowns and was named the game's top
offensive player. "It's great to beat Allegany.
We were ready for them all week. We had a lot to prove
today. The award is nice, but I could not have done
anything without this guy (Gelles hugged Jeff Shambaugh)
and the offensive line. They were unreal."
the tiny Sentinel tailback, was also jubilant. "Everybody
thought we were weak. We wanted to prove that we could
play with Allegany."
also had another reason to celebrate. Coming into the
game he needed 54 yards to reach the 1,000 plateau for
the season. Wouldn't you know it, he gained exactly
54. "I'll take a thousand, but that's just icing
on the cake. Winning this game is the greatest feeling
in the world."
Richard Powell gave credit to the defense. "We
knew we had a chance all along to beat them if we could
hold them off, and the defense did it for us."
Marrale, the 5-11, 170-pound defensive back, admitted
to some anxious moments though in holding off the Camper
offense. Especially, when Danny Porter began busting
loose long runs in the fourth quarter. "Danny Porter
is a great player and he had us scared at the end of
the game. He broke some nice runs and he could have
broken some more. I'm just glad he didn't."
were real confident in the second half. All I know is
the Kettle is coming back to Fort Hill High School where
Kettle?" Bittner asked. "Yeah, they won back
The Old Iron Kettle. The thing is, none of our players
have ever seen it and now they've won it. Allegany's
had it for so long, our kids don't know what the heck
the game, the mood in coach Jim Refosco's office at
Campobello was somber. But there also seemed to be a
relaxed feeling and air among the Allegany coaches.
be brutally frank," said Refosco. "I feel
like the monkey's off my back. Don't get me wrong. We
went over there to win the ballgame and I surely wish
we had, but as soon as that game ended I just felt so
too, had praise for the Fort Hill defense. "We
wanted to run Danny Porter outside but we couldn't make
the turn. We had to go back inside on our last touchdown
drive and it paid off. Fort Hill played well all the
way across and we give them credit for what they accomplished.
I'm happy for Dick Bittner."
Campers elected to go for two from kick formation. Robinette
went in motion right and the ball was snapped to Porter
lining up to kick the ball. Porter surged behind Robinette
and holder Shaffer but was stacked up at the line by
Fort Hill's Todd Helmick and Blaine Shewbridge.
was open," said Refosco. "We elected for two
because we thought it would work. If we execute properly,
the play works."
Fort Hill is the better football team. They capitalized
on our mistakes and that's what you have to do to win
football games. We gave it our best shot and played
very hard. We just didn't have what it took today and
Fort Hill did."
Refosco and his Campers, the season ends at 9-1. A city
record 21 straight wins highlighted the Allegany season
along with the all-round talents of Danny Porter. "I
just hope people realize some of the things our football
team has accomplished," said Refosco. "I hope
our kids remember too. I told them after the game to
keep this in the proper perspective. It's just a game.
There has to be a winner and there has to be a loser."
is hoping his players will use the Fort Hill game as
a learning experience down the road. "They're crushed
right now. They've had a lot of pressure on them. Right
now the pressure is off their backs and I told them
to appreciate that. Life goes on. We had a great year
and I want the players and our fans to realize that.
Hopefully we'll all be better people because of all
realizes himself that sometimes in sports, fans don't
want to be so understanding following a loss in the
big game. "Yeah, it falls under the old adage of
'it's what you did today that is important.' Today we
didn't make the grade and people are just going to have
to accept that."
have nothing but praise for Dick Bittner and Fort Hill
High School. I wish them the best of luck in the playoffs."
Stewart, a first year Allegany coach, was rushed to
Memorial Hospital by ambulance immediately following
the game. A hospital spokesman said Stewart's illness
was treated and the 1976 Camper standout was released.
the crowd as big as it looked?" Dick Bittner asked.
coach, it was as big as it looked. Veteran pressbox
observers estimated a record turnout of 12,000-plus.
Fans were still coming in as the game began. J. Suter
Kegg, retired Cumberland Times sports editor, was of
the opinion that the crowd a half hour before kickoff
was the largest he had ever seen assembled that early
at the stadium.
of fans were forced to take a Saturday stroll through
the park. With parking space at a premium, they cluttered
the roads in nearby Constitution Park with their cars
and made their way to the stadium in steady streams.
representatives of Chesapeake High of Baltimore County,
at the game to scout Allegany, were amazed at the size
of the crowd. "We've never seen anything like this,"
coach Don Harman said at halftime, "Our crowds
are in the hundreds, not thousands"
Hill leads the overall series 27-21-4. Since the Thanksgiving
Day game was dropped, the Sentinels lead the Homecoming