6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Bulldogs Look Strong Again

Martinsburg heads into the 2011 high school football season as defending champions in Class AAA for the first time in school history.  And with that will certainly come an extra amount of attention placed each week on the Bulldogs – a team that is easily one of the favorites for 2011 as well, at least on paper.

“We’ve got a good nucleus coming back from last year’s team.  We did lose some really good players that we have to replace, but we feel like we’ve got some kids that can maybe step in,” said head coach Dave Walker.  “I think the big thing is just getting them together and getting them to compete together as a team.  When they get that feeling and get that fever back, it kind of pulls them together and reminds them of what they’ve got to do.”

But one thing Walker wants his team to do is move on from last year’s success and stay humble.

“That’s been the big challenge,” he said.  “We’ve already talked to our players about how that was the past.  I don’t want to hear anyone talking about the state championship.  I don’t want our kids talking about how we were state champs.  We were – that’s over with and it’s a new year.”

But while it is a new year, there will be a lot of familiar faces on the field for the Bulldogs, led offensively by the dynamic duo of quarterback Brandon Ashenfelter and receiver Cedric Brown.

Ashenfelter turned some heads a year ago stepping in for Kam Puller and throwing for almost 2,000 yards and totaling 27 touchdowns – 20 of those coming through the air. 

Brown, meanwhile, had 61 catches in 2010 for over 1,000 yards and 13 touchdowns.

“Cedric will be a junior and the sky’s the limit for him,” Walker said.  “He’s a very good athlete – a three sport athlete.  He’s a phenomenal football player and I think has a great future ahead of him.”

Walker also said all but one member of his offensive line returns this year as well.  Defensively, just four starters are gone from 2010.

“I think we’ve got a great group to build around.  The four guys we lost were really good players,” Walker said.  “We’ve got a couple of question marks, but it’s been a long time since we’ve had this many guys returning.  We’ve just got to coach them up and get them ready.”

And part of getting his team ready will be centered on keeping his team focused.

“Nothing’s guaranteed.  I don’t care what we look like on paper, we’ve still got to go out and work and do the things we’re supposed to do,” he said.  “And that’s my job to make sure I keep these guys grounded and stay on them because we play some great teams – our schedule this year is probably tougher than it was last year.”

The Bulldogs open up the 2011 season on August 26th on the road at Sherando, Virginia.

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