Streaks Claim First Ever District Football Title December 11, 2017
The Manheim Township football team claimed its first ever District Three championship trophy on Saturday night, defeating Cumberland Valley in the Class 6A title game at Hersheypark Stadium.
The Blue Streaks held on for a 24-21 defeat of the Eagles, who had suffered a loss in last year's championship game with Wilson.
It was in fact, the first time a Township team has come this far into the post-season. The Blue Streaks improved to 12-1 with the win and will face Pine Richland - the District Seven 6A champ - on Saturday afternoon at Altoona in a PIAA 6A playoff game.
"First one in our school history," said Grayson Sallade, the Township running back who scored the team's third touchdown of the game. "It's great for everyone in the program. This is one of hardest working group of guys you'll see. The hard work paid off."
Township got on the board first after the defense came up with a huge play, sacking CV quarterback Jared Plessinger and causing a fumble, which the Streaks recovered on the Eagles' 32-yard line.
The Streaks moved the ball 10 yards, including Luke Emge's quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-one, earning a fresh set of downs at the CV 22. Emge, who completed eight of his first 10 passes, promptly passed the ball into the hands of a perfectly positioned Xavier Roman for a touchdown.
The Blue Streaks' second scoring drive was jump started not by a great defensive play, but a big play on special teams. The Eagles had lined up for a 28-yard field goal, which lineman James Starer blocked.
The bouncing ball was scooped up by Sallade, who galloped 30 yards before being finally brought down at the Cumberland Valley 49-yard line.
"I picked it up and started running; I wasn't sure if it was live or not," Sallade laughed. "Tonight we blocked a field goal; we made a field goal.... We practice a lot on special teams and it pays off. It's important to play all three facets of the game - offense, defense and special teams."
The drive to make the score 14-0 was sustained by two fourth-down conversions. On a fourth-and-three, Emge connected with Rece Bender for the senior's second reception of the night. The 14-yarder gave MT a first down at the 28. Another fourth-down attempt resulted in a nine-yard toss to Sallade for a first down.
"We've done a good job on fourth down all season," Emge said. "We have faith in the plays the coaches are calling."
"We were talking with the coaches, 'Hey can we go for it on fourth-down,'" said head coach Mark Evans. "We were making sure we were getting everything in line."
Emge, who finished the night with 14 completions on 21 attempts and 162 yards, threw a 20-yard TD pass to Hilton Ridley for Township's second score of the game with 4:05 to play in the first half.
Plessinger completed 15 of 23 passes for 209 yards on the night for CV. He was able to exploit one-on-one coverages on his star receiver Charlie Katshir, hitting the 6-foot-3 senior eight times, including some for big gains. A pair of those big passes came in the Eagles' ensuing possession when Katshir caught a 33-yard pass and the eventual 31-yard touchdown from Plessinger.
The only scoring in the third quarter was a Jack Rodenberger 27-yard field goal, extending Township's lead to 17-7 with 21 seconds left in the period. It was set up with Township earning great field position after forcing the Eagles to go three-and-out on their first possession of the period.
Prior to the Eagles' possession, the Streaks got things going on a Sallade 29-yard kickoff return to start the half. The senior running back, who finished with 23 carries for 102 yards, helped chew up the clock as Township made it to the Eagles' 16-yard line. After incomplete pass attempts into the end zone, Rodenberger's field goal was just wide from 33 yards out.
The Eagles did manage to make it a tight game on their only other possession of the third quarter. The drive, which carried into the fourth stanza, was aided by a 44-yard pass to Katshir. The team reached the Township 22 where Plessinger hit Cole McCoy for a TD.
The Streaks responded with a nine-play, 78-yard drive that ended on Sallade's 10-yard rushing touchdown with 6:50 left to play. It was 24-14 Township.
Emge commented on the offensive line's contribution on plays such as Sallade's rushing touchdown as well as the big fourth-down conversions earlier in the game.
"They're unbelievable," he said. "All year long they've set the tone. They're the reason we're here right now. Every time I'm running the ball, I know there's going to be a big hole for me. The offensive line does an amazing job."
Though the Streaks intercepted Plessinger at their own one-yard line with 4:51 to play in the game and managed to chew up another 2:09 before turning it over on a punt, the CV quarterback brought his team back on a 55-yard drive that ended on a three-yard run by Katshir.
The ensuing onside kick by the Eagles, scooted along the turf and into the sure hands of Emge.
"We knew it was coming," Emge said of the kickoff strategy. "I didn't expect it to come right at me. We just trusted that whoever it went to would make the play. I was able to help the team."
"Against a good football team, you can't panic," Evans added. "We talked about it a lot - staying focused and doing what we do."
"You know we've been working hard to finally turn the corner and I think we did that today," Sallade said.
Middletown Gridders Cap 2nd PIAA Silver Medal December 11, 2017
For the second straight season, so close but so far away, is the most adept way to describe the Middletown football team's season. As they did in 2016, the 2017 edition of the Blue Raiders marched through their initial 14 games, outscoring opponents 597-100 along the way to earning a spot in the PIAA-3A title game at Hershey Park Stadium. And for the second straight year that title quest ended with a tough to swallow loss. This year it was a 41-24 final to Quaker Valley on December 9th that ended the Blue Raiders magical two year run with another state silver medal.
"Without a doubt, 28-2 that's special, not many people can say that," said head coach Brett Myers. "Two division titles, two district titles, and two eastern champs. Not many people playing in December and these kids deserve to be out here in a winter wonderland playing in a pretty special setting."
The scene was set for a perfect Middletown fairy tale ending with a light snow falling that coated everything white. Only it was Quaker Valley earning their first state title, not the Blue Raiders. Making matters worse the Quakers used Middletown's own formula, suffocating defense combined with a powerful rushing attack, to get the job done.
That suffocating defense never really let the Blue Raider attack get going. Middletown surrendered 282 total yards while the Quaker ground game churned out 246 yards and accounted for three touchdowns. Add in two Middletown turnovers, one of which was returned for six Quaker points, and it was enough to cause Middletown's all-time leading rusher Brady Fox to say, "They were the better team today. They played hard. They are a good team but that score board doesn't identify our team. I think we could have played a lot better but it just happened to be 41-24."
Fox's narrative played out basically from the opening whistle as Middletown's first three drives yielded a combined 10 yards, two punts and one interception. Thankfully the result was only a 7-0 deficit thanks to a stingy defense that limited the Quakers to just Jordan Taylor's 34-yard score late in the opening frame.
The Blue Raiders' fourth possession is where things first started to go sideways for Middletown. The drive spanned the final 73 seconds of the first quarter, nearly half of the second quarter and covered 70 yards but produced no points. Unfortunately, the drive stalled on the Quaker Valley seven-yard line and the end result was a missed field goal leaving the score at 7-0.
The Quakers were unable to capitalize on Middletown's miscue as the Blue Raider defense forced a quick three and out. That set up the first half highwater mark for the Blue Raiders, a 55-yard Tre Leach punt return touchdown that knotted the game at 7-7 and gave the Middletown faithful a spark with 5:59 remaining in the half.
That spark was quickly extinguished as the Quakers answered the Leach punt return TD with a quick three-play strike punctuated by a 66-yard TD. The Ricky Guss to Ethan Moore score was made possible because the Middletown defender fell down while trying to break up the pass, leaving Moore free to scamper untouched for a 14-7 Quaker lead.
A quick Middletown three and out gave the ball right back to Quaker Valley with a short field to boot. The Quakers needed only four plays to traverse the 34 yards, stretching their lead to 21-7 with 1:54 remaining in the half on another Guss to Moore connection, this one from one yard out.
Three plays and 50 seconds later, the Quakers were enjoying a 28-7 lead thanks to Andrew Seymour. The senior linebacker tallied Quaker Valley's second interception of the game and returned it 40 yards for a TD.
Quaker Valley tightened their grip on the game with the opening possession of the second half. They marched 67 yards in five plays, capped by Taylor's second trip to the end zone, this one a 35-yarder that made it 35-7 just two minutes into the second half.
The Blue Raiders were able to counter the Quaker score with a score of their own but Donovan Brady's 38-yard field goal proved to be a temporary fix. The impressive boot trimmed the deficit to 35-10 with nearly a quarter and a half remaining but Middletown was unable to maintain the momentum surge.
Quaker Valley answered that Middletown score with their own score, a two-yard Guss plunge that capped a 12-play drive that chewed up the final five minutes of the third quarter and the first eight seconds of the fourth frame. The two sides exchanged punts over the next five minutes of game time leaving only the final score in question.
The Blue Raiders were able to score twice in the final five minutes to put that final at 41-24. The first was a one-yard Leach run that came with just over four minutes remaining in the contest. The six-play drive was highlighted by Kyle Truesdale's crazy 41-yard reception on a pass that was intended for Chris Plummer. Truesdale ended up with the ball after it was jarred loose from Plummer's hands via a hit that arrived at the same time as the ball.
Middletown's final score came after recovering a Quaker fumble but almost never happened after the Blue Raiders' first two plays lost seven yards. Facing third and long deep in their own territory Middletown turned to Truesdale who promptly broke off a 20-yard run, giving new life to the drive. That life was nearly fumbled away as Middletown's next snap hit the turf. A fortuitous bounce right into the arms of Lamar Ventura resulted in a 70-yard touchdown run with 14 ticks remaining in the game.
Ventura's TD scamper vaulted him to the top of Middletown's game leaders with Fox and Jose Lopez finishing well off their typical pace. Lopez's 44 yards gave him 1,793 for the season while the 56 yards Fox tallied in the game pushed his season total to 1,619 and his career record tally to 4,326.
With another 14-1 season and PIAA-3A runner-up finish in the books, Myers was left to say, "We didn't play our best game today and that's on me as a coach. We have some great kids and a pretty good program going. We are 28-2 and I don't want to take away from that but in the end, our goal is to play our best game the last game of the year and today we didn't do that and that falls on the head coach."
Barons Capture 17th District Title, Nip Gov. Mifflin November 27, 2017
It was a sweet amount of success at the sweetest place on earth as No. 2 seed Manheim Central went neck-to-neck with No. four seed Governor Mifflin in the District Three Class 5A Championship Finals at HersheyPark Stadium on Friday, November 24.
Central (13-0), appearing in their 21st championship game, used a 20 point first half along with a 23 yard field goal by Niko Gavala and a 33 yard touchdown reception by Vinny Lester late in the fourth quarter to rally past the Mustangs (11-2) by one point, 30-29.
The thrilling victory clinched the Barons 17th district crown and first district crown under third year head coach Dave Hahn. They last hoisted gold back in 2009.
"I'm ecstatic for the kids and the program," said head coach Hahn. "That was a great win over a great program," he added.
Sophomore quarterback Evan Simon (18-29-245) got the high powered offense rolling (346 yards) in the first quarter on a key pass completion to his number one target, wide receiver Jake Novak (6-101) for a first down at the Mustangs' 39 yard line.
On the next play, running back Giovanni Lester (20-91) took a handoff from Evan Simon and hot footed a 39 yard touchdown burst down the left sideline at the 5:55 mark.
"Gio did a great job and will continue to get better. I look forward to seeing what he will do next week," Hahn said.
Gavala, out of the hold by Novak, converted on the extra point kick and Manheim led 7-0.
Governor Mifflin, on their ensuing series, coughed up a fumble that was recovered by the Barons at the 25 yard line. Evan Simon then went back on the attack with a pass completion to Novak for a first down in the red zone at the 13. Novak, seconds later, caught a 12 yard touchdown strike from Simon with 4:22 to go in the quarter.
Gavala added his second extra point kick on the night and Central doubled their lead to 14-0.
Starting their next series at their own 35, Governor Mifflin moved the ball down the field as quarterback Kamron Wolfe (11-20-222) hooked up with wide receiver Michael Franks (3-96) on a crucial pass play at the 12 yard line. Wolfe fired another completion to tight end Chase Yoder (1-8) just short of the goal line before running back Isaac Ruoss powered into the end zone with 28 seconds left in the quarter.
Benjamin Myers sailed the extra point kick between the uprights and GM trailed the Barons 14-7.
The second quarter was also tight going into the Barons favor. Governor Mifflin went for a fourth down conversion early in the period but the Manheim defense, holding the Mustangs' 1,700 yard rusher Ruoss to 81 yards on 23 carries, forced the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass attempt at the 17.
"Defense wins championships, and that's what happened against Governor Mifflin," stated Hahn. "They did a great job."
Lester then handled the ball on a jaunt to the 13 followed by Evan Simon connecting a short field pass to tight end Garret Fittery (1-11) at the 2. Simon, under center Tyler Dougherty, then handed the football to Lester for a 2 yard touchdown dash one play later with 6:29 still to play in the first half. The two point PAT run failed but the Barons took a 20-7 advantage going into the locker rooms at half time.
Down by 13 points Governor Mifflin didn't throw in the towel and rebounded with a 14 point third quarter starting with covering an onside kick at the 48 to begin the second half.
Both teams then exchanged turnovers as linebacker Landan Moyer scooped up a fumble at the 48 and cornerback Wolfe intercepted an Evan Simon pass attempt at the Mustangs own 44 with 10:16 left on the clock.
That's where the momentum turned for Governor Mifflin as Wolfe completed a decisive pass to wide receiver Tyshaun Weaver (5-89) at the 16 plus Ruoss's run for 3 yards to the 13. Darius Copeland (2-19) capped the drive one play later with a 13 yard touchdown scamper at 9:17.
Myers nailed his second extra point kick of the night to set the score at 20-14.
With about three minutes left in the quarter, Governor Mifflin set themselves up to take their first lead of the contest taking over on downs at the 42 after a botched fake punt attempt by the Barons.
Wolfe (12-27) went on a scramble up the middle to the 17 and soon after Copeland moved the chains on a carry to the 11 for a first down (16). After losing a yard Wolfe hit Weaver for a 12 yard touchdown toss at 3:03 and the go-ahead Myers extra point kick put the Mustangs in front 21-20.
After a Manheim punt in the early minutes of the fourth quarter, the Mustangs looked to capitalize and Wolfe went in the air to Weaver at the 38 that moved the chains for a fresh set of downs.
A bad snap on the center exchange sent Governor Mifflin back to their own 17. After being forced to punt, the Barons were left with favorable field positioning at the 41.
Moments later on a 3rd and 8 from the 39 yard line Evan Simon lofted a pass over the middle to a leaping Tyler Simon (1-25) at the 14 for a critical first down. Gavala from the center snap via Dougherty and the hold by Novak drilled a 23 yard field goal at 6:10 to regain the lead 23-21.
Once again the Mustangs responded. Wolfe found Franks in the corner of the end zone on a 49 yard touchdown route at the 4:52 mark and Bryce Stabler added a two point conversion on a pass from Wolfe to go back on top 29-23.
The drive began at their own 35 after the kickoff by Tyler Simon, who had three touchbacks in the game, took a bounce out of play.
With the season on the line Evan Simon was clutch on the game-winning drive going on an aerial attack with only a few minutes left to play. He had a big play on a pass to Novak at the 39 and another to Vinny Lester (9-97) to setup a first down at the 49.
"All five of our receivers had a great impact on the game. That is what makes us tough," stated Hahn. "They all have the ability to break a big play. Their progress throughout the season has been outstanding."
Another remarkable grab by Novak set up Simon who gunned a 33 yard pump fake touchdown strike to a wide open Vinny Lester with just less than four minutes left to play. Gavala booted the game winning extra point kick that put the Barons back in front, 30-29.
Central then take over on downs with 1:31 on the clock and put a knee on the Mustangs season, earning the come from behind one point victory.
The Barons (13-0) will meet WPIAL Class 5A champion Gateway (13-1) in the semifinals round of the PIAA State Championship Tournament this Friday slated for a 7PM kickoff at Mansion Park Stadium in Altoona.
Middletown Football Wins Again, Blanks Scranton November 27, 2017
The Middletown football team is using the 2017 playoffs as their laboratory to test an old sports theory, that offense wins games and defense wins championships. A shutout win over Scranton Prep in the PIAA-3A quarterfinals last Friday was the Blue Raiders third live test of that theory this postseason. The 35-0 blanking of Scranton followed Middletown's 42-7 win over Bermudian Springs in the District 3 opener and a most recent 49-0 shellacking of Wyomissing that netted the Blue Raiders the District 3-3A title.
Add it all up and you get a defense that is allowing a measly 2.33 points per game this postseason behind back-to-back shutouts.
"That team we just played is a really, really good football team," said head coach Brett Myers. "Our defense did an amazing job, holding a team like that to a goose egg."
The defense kept the Cavaliers out of the end zone by shutting down Prep's main offensive weapons, senior running back Matt Gilmartin and junior quarterback Leo O'Boyle. Gilmartin did lead Scranton with 86 rushing yards but nearly half of that total came on the senior's first carry of the game. Gilmartin broke free for 36 of his 86 yards but the Blue Raider defense clamped down from there, holding the running back to 50 yards on his other 16 carries.
The defense was even harder on O'Boyle, holding the signal caller to a meger 80 yards on 12 of 24 passing, including two costly interceptions. Add in three sacks for a loss of 18 yards and Scranton was left searching for a way to move the ball for large portions of the game.
As it has all season, the offense was the beneficiary of the defensive domination, albeit a bit later than the Middletown faithful is accustomed. Scranton opened the game by covering 45 yards on two plays, including Gilmartin's big gain, putting the Blue Raider fans on the edge of their seats at BASD Stadium. The defense shook off the early trouble by forcing a Cavalier punt after a third down sack of O'Boyle.
The offense appeared to respond as they have all season, working in tandem with the defense to control the game. Only Middletown's opening drive ended with an uncharacteristic fumble deep in Cavalier territory that gave Scranton new life. That new life lasted all of three plays thanks to the Blue Raider defense with the fourth down punt giving possession back to Middletown at midfield.
The offense wasted little time capitalizing this time, covering the 50 yards in six pays. Brady Fox capped the drive with the first of three scores, this one a two-yard plunge that gave Middletown a 7-0 lead with just a few ticks remaining in the opening quarter.
Scranton's ensuing drive lasted just three plays thanks to a Tre Leach interception that gave Middletown's offense another short field. This time the Blue Raiders needed eight plays to cover 42 yards with Leach enjoying the fruits of his interception. Leach's four-yard score capped the short drive and made it 14-0 with 9:58 remaining in the half.
"We have a lot of good football players," said Myers. "I've been telling everybody that will listen that Tre Leach is an all-league running back if we need him to be but he's always been unselfish and stepped back so the other guys can get theirs. Tonight we needed him and he stepped up," said Myers of Leach who finished with 82 yards rushing in his efforts to help fill the void left by injured running back Jose Lopez.
An exchange of punts over the next few possessions led to Middletown getting the ball back with 76 seconds remaining in the half and 91 yards of turf to cover. The offense needed five plays and just over a minute to cover all that green thanks in large part to work of Scott Ash, Ryan Hughes and Chris Plummer. After Leach picked up 17 yards on two carries to move Middletown out of the shadow of their own end zone, Ash went to work. The signal caller hit a wide-open Hughes for a 52-yard gain and followed with a 21-yard strike to Plummer. The back-to-back completions put Middletown on the doorstep of a 21-0 lead heading into intermission. Fox picked up his second TD of the half, this one from one-yard out, with 14 seconds remaining in the half.
Middletown, behind Fox, kept rolling once the third quarter kicked off. Fox opened the drive with a 40-yard scamper and capped the first possession of the second half with a two-yard, second effort score that made it 28-0.
"He has a special knack for running the ball, we saw that tonight," stated Myers. "Not many times in his career have we had to ask him to carry the ball a little extra because of injury but tonight we did and he came in to do what Brady does and that's run really hard and be physical and find a way to squirt through really, really small holes," said Myers of Middletown's all-time leading rusher who finished the game with a team high 98 yards and three scores on 24 carries.
Middletown's defense appeared to relax a bit on the Cavaliers next possession, allowing five straight completions by O'Boyle. That allowed Scranton to get into a rhythm but Tyeer Mills quickly changed the beat by picking off O'Boyle for the defense's second pick of the game. The Blue Raiders offense was unable to capitalize, punting after just three plays, but the damage had been done as Scranton gained just 37 yards of offense over the final 16 minutes of action.
With the game well in hand the Blue Raider offense downshifted a bit on their next drive, stalling out at the Prep 32-yard line. The result was a missed 48-yard field goal attempt by Donovan Brady that gave the ball back to Scranton. It appeared as if the Cavaliers would capitalize on the possession by putting some points on the board after a Middletown personal foul and a big completion moved Scranton into Middletown territory. Once again, the Blue Raider defense came up big, forcing a turnover on downs that gave the ball back to Middletown with just over seven minutes remaining in the game. In an attempt to bleed the clock, the Blue Raiders ran the ball 11 straight times, moving from their own 40-yard line to the Scranton five-yard line over the span of 6:47. The Blue Raiders landed one last blow before the final whistle with Mills finding Leach in the back corner of the end zone for a 10-yard TD and a 35-0 final.
Middletown's PIAA quarterfinal victory over Scranton Prep gives the Blue Raiders their second straight berth in the PIAA-3A semifinals with this bout opposite the District 12 champion, Cornwell-Egan. The showdown is set for Saturday December 2nd at West Chester Rustin High School with kickoff set for 1pm.
Barons Escape Cocalico, Advance to District Final November 19, 2017
Playing their final home game of the season, the second seeded Manheim Central hosted Section Two rival Cocalico in a District Three Class 5A semifinals round collision on Friday, November 17.
A rock solid defense, along with scoring a touchdown in each of the first three quarters, helped the Barons (12-0) edge the No. 3 Eagles (10-2) for the second time this season in an exciting 21-20 close shave. They have now outscored their opponents 556-128.
"Wow it was a battle," said head coach Dave Hahn. "I am happy for our seniors to go out with a win on their home field. That is special, and to get the win against a great team like Cocalico is great," he added.
Cocalico's defense, coming away with a pair of turnovers, jumped out to an early lead in the first stanza. After halting a fake punt by Central, they took over on downs at their own 39 yard line. One play later, using their veer formation style of offense that finished with 323 total yards, quarterback Noah Palm (15-119) sprinted 61 yards for a touchdown at the 7:39 mark. Daniel Engle converted on the extra point kick for a 7-0 lead.
Starting at their own 26, Evan Simon (15-26-256), at quarterback, responded with a swing pass to wide receiver Jake Novak (5-104) down the left sideline to move the chains to the 41 for a first down (20).
In the shotgun formation Evan Simon took the center exchange from Tyler Dougherty and hooked up with Tyler Simon (4-92) on a pass completion to the 30. Giovanni Lester (15-95) then moved the ball on a carry to the 15 and another on a second effort jaunt to the 6.
Under center, Evan Simon handed off to running back Tyler Flick (13-43) moments later to cap the drive with a 2 yard touchdown burst at the 3:51 mark and Niko Gavala, out of the hold by Novak, drilled the extra point kick to tie the score at 7-7.
At the midway point in the second quarter, the Barons started a drive at their own 21 that would lead to the final points of the first half. Tyler Simon grabbed a pass from Evan Simon at the 34 and wide receiver Vinny Lester (4-57) hauled in a throw by Evan Simon at the 49 for a first down.
"Tyler Simon is a kid that plays with a lot of emotion and high energy," Hahn mentioned. "He is all over the field and this game was no different. He left it all out on the field and I am proud of him for that."
Evan Simon then spiraled a 51 yard touchdown swing pass to Novak straight down the left sideline with 6:16 remaining in the half. Gavala booted the extra point kick for a 14-7 advantage going into the locker rooms at halftime.
Charged up in the third quarter, Central, starting at their own 28, went on the move for their final points of the night. A run around right by Giovanni Lester advanced the ball to the 49 while Flick carried to the 40 for a first down.
Another scurry by Giovanni Lester spotted their pursuit to the 26 and one play later he maneuvered around the Eagles defense for a 26 yard touchdown scamper with 5:57 left in the quarter.
Gavala added his third PAT kick of the night to catapult the Barons to a 21-7 lead.
Just 51 seconds was all that was left in the quarter as the Barons, who finished with 380 total yards, coughed up a costly fumble that was recovered at their own 30 yard line by Cocalico and changed the pace of the game.
The Eagles then mounted an impressive drive that ended by running back Ronald Zahm (2-48) who accepted a sweep from Palm and reversed his footing from the right to the left side of the field on a 43 yard touchdown scuttle at the 10:44 mark of the fourth quarter.
Engle added his second extra point kick of the game and trailed Manheim 21-14.
Later in the quarter Cocalico got the ball back and, starting at their own 30, put pressure on the Barons defense. Running back Brandon Brubaker (12-73) got the ground game rolling (266 yards) with several key runs including a 3 yard touchdown dash with 5:34 left in the game.
A go-ahead two point conversion failed and the Eagles trailed the Barons by just one point 21-20.
Time was rolling off the clock in the final minutes of the game as defensive back Owen Zimmerman intercepted a Barons pass attempt at the Eagles own 25 at 4:17. Central's defense held their ground and took over on downs after an incomplete pass attempt at the 27 in the final two minutes of the game but had to punt the ball away to Cocalico.
"Cocalico is a tough offensive team. They just keep coming at you but our defensive effort was great," said Hahn. "We kept going and fighting on every play."
Going on a late game winning drive, and with no time outs, Palm connected on a pass play to the 39 for a crucial first down but penalties moved the Eagles back and a sack by Joe Kolk on their final play of the game on fourth down gave the ball back to the Barons.
Only a few seconds remained in the game before Central took a knee and ran out the clock to secure the one point victory.
The Barons (12-0) will face 4th seed Governor Mifflin (11-1) in the championship finals at Hershey Park Stadium this upcoming Friday slated for a 7PM kickoff.
"Family, football, Thanksgiving, Districts, Hershey, that's what it's all about," said Hahn. "This is our favorite time of the year, when our players truly get to experience the things we preach all the time: tradition, attitude, and sacrifice.
"Our alumni guys comeback to share stories and show support," he added. "It's an awesome experience that lets our guys know that their footprints have been stamped on this program and will never be forgotten.
"It's going to be a tough match against Governor Mifflin and we will continue to do what we always do, out work the opponent and prepare to play a physical game," ended Hahn.
Streaks Top Wilson, Advance to District Finals November 19, 2017
Manheim Township's football team ended a streak earlier this season, becoming the first team to defeat the Wilson Bulldogs in a Lancaster-Lebanon League regular season game since ..., well, since the Blue Streaks of 2007.
Four weeks following that 38-14 defeat of Wilson at Manheim Township, the Streaks played host to the Bulldogs again. Friday's game was a District Three Class 6A semifinal game and the result was another win over Wilson. Luke Emge threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Township won 28-14. The victory propelled the Streaks to their ever District Three championship game, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 25 at Hersheypark Stadium.
"First time in school history," head coach Mark Evans noted. "I'm elated for these guys. They're such a special group - the comraderie they have and the fun they're having. They will leave an incredible legacy behind at Manheim Township."
The Streaks took an early lead with Emge hitting Rece Bender with a 24-yard touchdown strike 1:47 into the game.
"Rece Bender had one heck of a catch," Evans commented.
The coach explained how the team's offensive scheme was executed as planned, leading to the win.
"We did some shifting and motioning - shifting we had not shown - and it was one of those things where the things we put together played to our strengths," he explained. "Our guys picked it up so well. They find a way to make it work when you throw new wrinkles at them.
"We ran some split options with [halfback] Grayson Sallade and Luke," Evans continued. "Everyone is focusing on Grayson, so he was the designated decoy in the game. They each had some big runs for us."
Late in the first quarter, the Bulldogs (8-4) tied the score on Chris Roberson's 27-yard touchdown reception from Connor Uhrig. It came with 2:09 left in the first quarter.
The Township offense went back to work as Emge & Company matriculated the ball up the field for the go-ahead score - a four-yard rushing touchdown by Sallade - with only 13 seconds remaining in the period. Jack Rodenberger's PAT kick made it 14-7.
The Streaks had another touchdown, which they got in just under the wire. It came with only 28 seconds left in the second quarter as Emge lunged over the goal line from a yard out, making it 21-7 in favor of the home team at halftime.
"We grounded it out when we had to," Evans said. "Luke needs something like 60 rushing yards for 2,000 on his career."
Emge ran the ball 10 times for 111 yards. He completed eight passes for 113 yards, including the two TD's. Bender caught three of Emge's completions and gained 51 receiving yards. Sallade ran the ball 26 times for 45 yards.
The two sides exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter with Wilson scoring on Iggy Reynoso's big 36-yard run and Hilton Ridley hauling in a 31-yard touchdown pass from Emge.
"We went for it on fourth down on our own 40 and didn't get it, giving them a short field," Evans said, referring to Wilson's second scoring drive. "The only two scores they had were assignment busts by us. We had a blown coverage and the next time our tackle left a huge whole. Take away the two busted plays and our defense played stellar,
"Defense wins championships and we're getting strong defensive play," Evans added. "Friday night we also had key special teams play. Jack Rodenberger kicked and punted very well for us."
Speaking of keys to success, Evans likes to talk about the guys in the proverbial trenches - namely the offensive linemen. They've been instrumental in Township's 11-1 record and subsequent success by individuals like Emge and Sallade.
"Those guys have played together for a long time," Evans said. "It's a good group. If you look at team success, if you have a lot of guys who have a lot of starts together, that usually equals success. If you look at the starts among the O-Line, you are looking at a team with a solid season. Our defensive linemen deserve a lot of credit too. Some of those guys also play on offensive line."
Asked about the accomplishment of defeating Wilson a second time this year where L-L League teams had failed to top the Bulldogs in 68 previous tries, Evans classified it as just getting a win over another formidable foe.
"I think at this point, when you're looking at what you're doing in the playoffs, it doesn't matter what you did during the year," he said. "They [Wilson] had motivation to win. For us at this point, we're focusing on the next opponent."
As for that next opponent, which is Cumberland Valley, the Township coach added, "This is something you don't want to see end. Unless you win it all, you're ending the season on a loss now. You have to win your district to move on to states and that's our goal."
L-S Football Closes Season With District Semis Loss November 19, 2017
This past Friday, the Pioneers put their best foot forward as they faced No. 2 seed Bishop McDevitt but the No. 6 seed didn't quite have enough to pull off the upset. The Mid-Penn powerhouse Crusaders took advantage of turnovers and used some big plays to advance to the District Three Class 4A finals with a 47-17 home game win.
"It's kinda like how our year has gone," said head coach John Manion. "At times we have too many turnovers and we give up too many big plays. Two fumbles in the red zone were costly."
McDevitt (10-2) scored on its opening drive, chewing up six minutes of clock time and settling for a Chase Diehl touchdown pass to Nazir Burnett.
The Pioneers, who finished the season 7-5, looked up to the challenge as they moved the ball all the way to the Crusader 6-yard line before coughing up a fumble with 1:50 left in the first quarter. BM came back with a 90-yard drive that culminated with a 21-yard sprint by Qualik Davis. Joey Underwood blocked the extra point but the hosts were still in front, 13-0 early in the second frame.
Two plays later, the Pioneers fumbled again, and again McDevitt capitalized, this time Diehl, who finished with 221 yards on 13-of-16 passes, found Burnett with a 17-yard strike. L-S finally got on board when Peyton Denlinger booted a 20-yard field goal with 3.3 seconds left in the first half.
L-S opened the second half with possession but couldn't convert and were forced to punt. The Crusaders did not have the same problem. They converted with a 67-yard scamper by Davis who finished the night with 188 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Down 26-3, the Pioneers kept at it and worked their first TD of the night, an 8-yard burst by Joey Underwood midway through the third quarter. McDevitt countered with a one-yarder by Davis to reclaim the 23 point advantage and then extended that lead early in the fourth when Julian Jordan returned an interception 70-yards.
L-S kept battling, however, and mounted another run that resulted in Todd Shelley finding Kris Pirozzi with an 18-yard strike for the Pioneers' last score of the season. But McDevitt had the last say, capping the action with a five-yard run by CJ Reyes-Diggs.
"The effort was one of our best," said Manion. "The guys fought to the end and played hard."
Shelley finished with 276 passing yards on 22 of 43 attempts. Pirozzi and Cam Neimeyer each hauled in six passes for 79 and 77 yards respectively. Underwood collected four passes and Connor Blantz and Marc Wilson each grabbed three in a balanced effort.
"And we didn't give up a single sack which says a lot about the blocking of Marc Wilson and Drew Smith," Manion pointed out.
Smith led a 109-yard rushing attack with 49 yards and Shelley chipped in with 47.
Defensively, JT Hake led the way with ten solo tackles and Pirozzi added seven. Underwood finished with six, four for a loss and Damian Rosa recorded six tackles, one sack and forced a fumble.
"I thought Cam D'Imperio did a nice job on special teams with three blocks and Ben Cardwell added three tackles," added Manion.
"I felt the game was closer than the score indicates," he said. "They wore us down a bit in the second half.
"You're never happy with a loss but we went down fighting. There were no regrets."
The field hockey team officially closed its 2017 season last week with a banquet to celebrate their individual and team success. The following awards were recognized.
Selected to The NFHCA High School National Academic Squad for academic achievement (3.5 cumulative unweighted GPA or higher) while participating in a varsity sport were juniors Amelia Cope, Alexis Glass, Makayla Malcolm, Delaney McCormick and Katelyn Smith and seniors Megan Breneman, Hanna Garber and Laura Horner.
Breneman, Garber and Horner were also selected to the L-L Academic All-Star team as seniors who have maintained a 3.5 or higher GPA throughout their academic career.
Scholar Athlete Award winners this year include sophomore Julia Smecker, junior Katelyn Smith and senior Megan Breneman.
The Rookie of the Year Award was given to Jocelyn Branco for her strong play at the defensive end of the field. "Jocelyn used her meticulous hand-eye coordination to stop 17 balls that were literally going across the line - that is an incredible number of defensive saves for one season," noted head coach Katrina Swarr.
The Pioneer Award, given to a player who not only demonstrates proficient individual skills, but also demonstrates leadership, commitment, discipline and sportsmanship, was given to Lily Nauman and Amelia Cope. Nauman ended the season as the top JV points leader with 11 goals and seven assists.
The Most Valuable Defensive Player Award went to Jenna Lapp while Outstanding Offensive Awards went to Hanna Garber and Laura Horner, the team's leading scorer with 17 goals and eight assists. Garber finished with 7 goals, eight assists and one defensive save.
The JV Most Valuable Offensive Player Award went to Alexis Glass while Jess Heisey received the JV Most Valuable Defensive Player Award.
Knights Top Peters Twp., Bow in PIAA Finals November 19, 2017
The Hempfield boys' soccer team reached the state championship game after winning a tense semifinal match over Peters Township on Tuesday night at Altoona.
The winner of this PIAA Class-AAAA playoff match was not decided in the 80 minutes of regulation play; the score was tied 2-2. Neither the Indians nor the Black Knights scored in the two 15-minute overtime periods, taking this game into the penalty shootout phase where Hempfield scored on all five attempts for the win.
The Black Knights, however, brought home the PIAA Class-AAAA runner-up trophy after a 4-0 loss to Conestoga on Saturday night at Hersheypark Stadium. The loss ended Hempfield's tremendous run with a record of 22-5.
The victory over Peters Township wasn't one of those cautiously played games where two soccer teams play conservative, defensive styles with the intent to avoid giving the edge to the other team.
Ryan Hepler scored five minutes into the match and the Indians evened it up in the 12th minute on Logan Brinsky's goal. A few minutes past the midway point of the first half, Jake Suchar gave Hempfield the lead again. Peters Township tied it up at almost exactly the same juncture in the second half on Bryce Gabelhart's goal - Brian Bruzdwicz assisting.
"Ryan Hepler had a beautiful shot in the upper right corner of the goal," said head coach Mark Ashley. "We love to score first and were happy to get on the board.
"Peters Township responded well," Ashley went on. "But Jake Suchar scored off a deflection on a throw-in.
"They tied it up in the second half and in overtime I felt we had the better of the opportunities," continued the coach. "Our fitness helped us and they were tiring. So we had more chances because of that. Our fitness helped us in the penalty kicks too."
The Knights lined up their penalty shooters - Zach Wilson, Drew Johnson, Hepler, Dan Hester and Austen Goodling, who had an assist on the Knights' first goal of the game.
"We felt that all five of our shooters can kick the PK's with power and accuracy," said Ashley.
And each of them came through - with power and accuracy.
"They went first," Ashley noted. We made all five of our shots; question was would our goalie make the saves. Brady Ross saved their third shot. So Austen had to make the fifth shot for us to move on."
Though the penalty kick often seems like an easy goal, there's a different approach to the PK shootout, Ashley explained.
"It's a little different with the penalty shootout because you're dealing with five in a row," he said. "We encourage them to trust their training and put the ball where they've consistently put it in practice.
"And if you're a goalie, a lot of times the goalie will guess - left or right, high or low. Typically, Brady will make an educated guess on the position of their feet and angle of their hips.
"Having been through a lot of playoff games, our coaching and preparation include anticipating the situations we may end up in," he added. "We mix it up with our goalkeepers too."
The Knights went with Tristan Green as their goalie in the first half and brought in Brady for the second half and the extra time as well as the shootout.
"That worked well for us," Ashley said. "Brady was warmed up and loose. He was mentally ready too."
After beating the team that had won the state championship in 2006 and 2014, the Knights went up against the Pioneers, who had won last year's title game over Elizabethtown by a 1-0 score.
Conestoga senior Chris Donovan, who had the lone goal in last year's state finale as a junior, scored all four goals Friday night as the Pioneers kept their collective foot on the accelerator through the match, playing a high-pressure game across the pitch.
"That guy is unreal," said Ashley. "We knew about him. We tried to start the game marking him, trying to take him out. We also knew about [Nick] Jennings in the middle - we thought if we could neutralize those two, we would have a chance. But they played pretty phenomenal."
Unlike Hempfield's run in the playoffs for the Lancaster-Lebanon League, the District Three 4A quest and the PIAA tournament where they often took the early lead, this game saw them fall behind 1-0 less than 10 minutes into the match. Donovan scored another goal in the 15th minute - a 2-0 lead that held until halftime.
"It was really tough," Ashley said "All year long we've typically scored early on in our games with the exception of maybe three games. It's hard to give up an early goal in a game like this.
"It seemed like we were starting to get some opportunities, finding the targets and slipping it in," Ashley said, referring to the final few minutes of the first half. "We also got a corner kick. But we weren't able to get much of a solid attack."
"Getting the first one is key," said David Zimmerman, the Pioneers' head coach. "When you score one, it means they have to score two and we haven't given up that many goals. Forces them to come out.
"We're fortunate in terms of depth and we use that to our advantage - wearing out teams and getting fresh legs in constantly," Zimmerman added.
The Pioneers claimed the championship, wrapping up their 2017 campaign with a 25-0-1 record. Dating back to their 2016 District One championship game, which they lost, the Pioneers went unbeaten for 30 straight games. That included this year's 26 games as well as the PIAA run of 2016, which included a 1-0 defeat of Hempfield in the quarterfinals.
"There was a lot of pressure because we won it last year," Donovan said when asked about keeping an unbeaten record going. "We wanted to get that undefeated season. District championship was another big goal because we didn't win that last year.
"Central League, District One and state," Donovan added. "Couldn't have scripted it any better. There's nothing more to accomplish."
"You couldn't ask for a better ending to an incredible high school career," Zimmerman said of Donovan.
The Pioneers did have 11 shots on goal. Ross came up with six saves, including a beautiful one on a one-on-one breakaway by the Pioneers. Another save came off the foot of Wilson, who booted a ball away from the goal line when a shot got past Ross.
"Brady made some great saves for us," Ashley said. "Zach Wilson made the difference in holding down the defense for us. He's one of our leaders and played a phenomenal game.
"Tough to see it end this way," Ashley concluded. "But that's a phenomenal team. Conestoga is unreal. I give them so much credit as a team. They know how to play together. They executed. They deserve it."
In the District Three Class 6A semifinals, the Black Knights suffered a 28-7 loss to Cumberland Valley on Friday night. The district's top-seeded Eagles improved to 10-2 and earned their ticket to the district championship game at Hersheypark Stadium this Saturday where they'll face Manheim Township.
The Eagles' running game was effective against the Knights, resulting in 248 rushing yards on 48 attempts. The Knights (8-4) also hurt themselves with two fumbles.
Jared Plessinger completed eight of 12 passes for 129 yards, including a one-yard touchdown toss to Charlie Katsir, who finished with 69 receiving yards.
Mark Himmelsbach ran for 69 yards on 14 carries and threw a touchdown pass for Hempfield's lone score of the game. He finished the game with 11 completions out of 15 attempts for 97 yards. His touchdown pass came in the fourth quarter, connecting with Nash Beinhauer.
Jake Palmer and Cole McVoy had the other Cumberland Valley touchdowns - both rushing TD's from inside the Knights' 10-yard line.
The Hempfield defense holding the Eagles to only 28 points was notable. In seven of their previous nine wins, the Eagles had scored over 30 points, including a 62-9 victory in the first round of districts.
Comets Cap Perfect Season With PIAA Crown November 19, 2017
Penn Manor's magical ride through the 2017 season ended this past Saturday afternoon on a soggy field at Zephyr Sports Complex in Whitehall. But the weather didn't dampen the Comets performance or their spirits as they capped a perfect 28-0 season with a 2-0 victory over Downingtown West to earn their third PIAA Class 3A Championship.
"This is just awesome," said head coach Matt Soto. "I'm so proud of this team."
The District One champs, making their first appearance in the state finals since 1988, found themselves pinned in the backfield for the bulk of the contest. Manor, as they have done often through the post-season, set the tone early. After two straight corners, Emma DeBerdine found Alyssa Schriver on the left side for what proved to be the only goal they needed just 3:50 into the game.
They worked their eighth corner of the half with five minutes remaining but again failed to convert. The Whippets (25-1), who advanced with a convincing 3-1 semifinal victory over perennial power Emmaus, thus ending their 81-game winning streak, barely managed to get the ball over the 25 yard line. They were pressing late in the half when the Comets exploded in transition and notched an insurance goal when DeBerdine sent a shot across the circle that made its way to Bri Harsh on the left wing with just 40.6 seconds left in the half.
"The girls were just terrific today," said Soto.
While the second half went scoreless, the Comets were knocking on the door, earning six more corners.
Downingtown, who came into the state championship game, like the Comets, undefeated, managed their first corner of the game with 13:40 left but couldn't crack Penn Manor's defense. Their second and final corner came with 3:53 left but they failed to get off a shot, leaving the Comets as the No. 1 team in the country as rated by MaxFieldHockey.com.
"This whole season, the girls just worked so well together," Soto noted.
Britney Hook again stood alone in goal, collecting her 23rd shutout of the season having made just 19 saves all year. Penn Manor capped its perfect season with eight straight playoff game shutouts. The last and only fifth goal surrendered this season was against Donegal in the L-L League finals on October 17.
"This is the school's first-ever undefeated season," pointed out Athletic Director Jeff Roth. "Girl's soccer won section, league, districts and states in 2002 but were not undefeated. And the field hockey team did not trail in a game all season."
Advancing to the PIAA semifinals was nothing new for the Comets. They've gotten that far each of the last six years. Getting past that point, however, was a bit tougher. In each of the last two seasons, Penn Manor fell to Emmaus in the semifinal round. Before being named PIAA co-champions with Palmyra in 2014, they again bowed out in the semifinals, this time to Lower Dauphin.
"Of course we talked about the past," said Soto. "We knew it was time to make a change."
And so the Comets traveled to Warwick last Tuesday night where they faced, four the fourth time this season, a very familiar opponent in Hershey High School. They not only handed the Trojans a 2-0 loss but advanced to the PIAA finals for the third time in six years. Back in 2008, when the Comets earned their first PIAA crown, they dominated Hershey 5-0.
"They always play us tough and I think every time they've played us this year they have improved," said Soto. "We really didn't change our game plan," he added. "We made a few adjustments but this team is so talented that they can make changes during the game."
Hershey (20-6) went on the attack first, forcing keeper Britney Hook to make one save within the first three minutes. That effort, however, was short-lived. Manor regrouped, gained possession and charged to the other end of the field where they put together a flurry of four straight corners before being awarded a penalty stroke. Eleven minutes into the contest, Emma DeBerdine stepped to the line and calmly placed the ball past Kit Olmsted (8 saves) and into the right corner of the cage.
Olmsted saved Manor's initial shot on goal, an effort by Gabby Bitts, but then dove on the ball to prevent an easy goal and a penalty stroke opportunity was awarded.
Neither team mounted any real threats after that. The Comets finished with six corners in the half and Hershey, who advanced to the semis with two straight shutouts, ended the half in transition with a shot that sailed over the goal.
Manor opened the second half by pinning the Trojans in their half of the field and working their corner options. On their fifth attempt, DeBerdine, who caught the Bri Harsh insert, dribbled across the baseline and sent a pass back to Harsh who connected for the insurance goal.
Hershey, finished with two corners, both late in the game, and managed just one shot, easily saved by Hook.
The Comets finished the season with 148 total goals scored and were led by Gabby Bitts (35 goals, 23 assists) who was one of six Penn Manor players selected for the 17-player All-League team. Also selected was Emma DeBerdine (27g, 30a), Hannah Brown (10g, 10a), Alyssa Schriver (8g, 10a), Lisa Schaefer and Mia Clancy (10g, 2a).
Manor's first team all stars included Clancy, Autumn Gager, Schaefer, Barbusca, Bitts, Brown, DeBerdine, and Schriver.
Rounding out Manor's double-digit scorers were Bri Harsh (22g, 17a) and Anna Mary Barbusca (22g, 15a).
Blue Raiders Grab Second Straight District Title November 17, 2017
The twelfth chapter in the 2017 book of Middletown football was a historic one. Not only did the Blue Raiders pick up their second straight District 3-3A title but senior running back Brady Fox became the program's all-time leading rusher in the process. Coming into the contest Fox needed 55 yards to eclipse Jalen Thompson's mark of 3,855 yards set during last season's run to the state final. He finished with 207 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Blue Raiders to a 49-0 demolition of Wyomissing.
"It's nice, I mean it really is, these guys behind me here did a great job leading and those guys going in there are a special group," said head coach Brett Myers. "Every team has its own identity and this group is still finding theirs, but I guess right now their identity is district champs, we'll enjoy it for a couple of days and see what happens from there."
What a game to enjoy. The Blue Raiders racked up 422 yards behind the one-two punch of Fox and Jose Lopez who finished with 124 yards and a score of his own. Meanwhile the Middletown defense was busy shutting down Wyomissing. The Spartans finished with just 191 yards of offense, a measly 3.67 yards per play.
The Blue Raider assault began with Wyomissing's first possession, a three and out that ended with a short punt that gave Middletown the ball on their own 38-yard line. Fox may have ended up the headliner of the game but Tyeer Mills took center stage on the opening drive. The senior wideout covered 31 yards on the second play of the drive and setup the TD with a 12-yard run two plays later. That TD was a 12-yard strike from Scott Ash to Ryan Hughes that made it 7-0 with 6:58 left to play in the opening quarter.
Wyomissing answered the Middletown score with a long drive that lasted 10 plays but covered just 24 yards and ended with a punt. Momentum seemed to be drifting to the Spartans with a quick three and out from Middletown but the Blue Raiders regained control by shutting Wyomissing's offense down. A quick turnover on downs gave the ball back to Middletown on their own 32-yard line. Fox covered 46 of the 68 yards needed, the final 27 yards making it 14-0.
Another smothering effort by the Blue Raider defense had the Spartans punting from their own two-yard line and punter Owen Pendergast standing at the back of his own end zone. A bad snap led to a partially blocked punt and a short field for Middletown. The field was short but it was enough for Fox to surpass Thompson in the Middletown history books while making it a 21-0 game with halftime just over five minutes away. Neither team was able to get anything going in that final five minutes keeping it a three-score game at the break.
Thanks to the work of Mills, the Blue Raiders needed only five plays, one of which was a busted pass play that resulted in an eight-yard sack, to make it a 28-0 game. Mills opened the second half with a 44-yard return, setting Middletown up near mid-field and followed with a 10-yard run on first down. Four plays later Fox made it 28-0 with a 17-yard score.
Wyomissing countered with a 10-play drive that reached the Middletown four-yard line but Kyle Truesdale intercepted Ben Terefenko's pass in the end zone to kill the drive and the Spartans only chance at breaking up the shutout. Three Jose Lopez runs later and the mercy rule running clock was activated. After picking up nine and six yards on his first two carries, Lopez broke free for his lone score of the game, a 67-yarder that highlighted his 124-yard effort.
A solid return by John Thomas Gaza on the ensuing kickoff led to another quick three and out by the Spartans but an equally solid punt by Pendergast flipped field possession and pinned Middletown inside their own 20 yard line. That made little difference for Fox who promptly ripped off a 36-yard run to move the Blue Raiders out from the danger zone. Four plays later and Fox was covering the final 24 yards for his fourth and final score and the 42-0 lead that came with it.
Another Wyomissing turnover on downs led to Middletown's final possession and their final points. The possession was all Chris Joseph with the running back covering 36 yards on four carries, the final nine-yards for the TD and the 49-0 final. Wyomissing did mount one last ditch effort against Middletown's second unit but the Blue Raider defense held firm to preserve the shutout.
Up next for the Blue Raiders is a PIAA-3A quarterfinal showdown with either Loyalsock or Scranton Prep. The game will take place November 24th or 25th at a site and time not available at press time.
Donegal Closes its Season in State Semifinals November 16, 2017
Athletics, and those that play the games, are constantly surrounded by numbers. They are painted on the field and found on the jerseys and helmets of the athletes. Statistics and averages are used to determine the value of an individual as well as the team and a number is then assigned to that value.
On Tuesday night November 14th at Whitehall High School, the Donegal field hockey team's number was three. Not only were they the third ranked high school team in the country, but it was with only 3.3 seconds remaining in the PIAA Class 2A semifinal game against Wyoming Valley West that their amazing season came to a halt in a heartbreaking 1-0 loss.
Through 59:56.7 of play the Lady Indians controlled almost every aspect of the game but for one, and that was scoring. Despite out-cornering the Spartans 17-7, Donegal only held a one shot advantage at 9-8.
Wyoming Valley West, however, only needed one and that came on the final corner of the game when Cameron Forgash inserted to Madison Woods who then found a way to do what few players have done over the past several seasons, smack the board for the game winner.
Even though the Donegal offense was not able to manufacture any points from their scoring opportunities they did a good job of controlling the ball and not allowing the Spartans to get into any kind of a rhythm. Defensively the Indians stifled any attack Wyoming Valley West was able to mount.
Mackenzie Allessie, Donegal's main offensive weapon, was stymied several times by the Spartan's committee of goal keepers in Nikki Hartzel and Sydney Rusnock even though the junior standout was able to get some good looks. Fellow sharp shooter Lily Saunders was thwarted by Hartzel as well.
With diving saves in the cage and a relentless defense that was in a bend-but-don't-break mindset all night, Wyoming Valley West found a way to solve the rapid scoring style that is Donegal's forte and one which has decimated teams in the past.
Even though the Indians were not able to defend their title, they still stand as one of the top high school programs, not only in Pennsylvania but in the country.
This year's graduating seniors and their teammates have achieved a level of success that many teams can only aspire to and have done it better than any that have come before them.
With numerous Section and League titles as well as an historic four consecutive District Three Championships and a PIAA Championship under their belts, they have done their school and community proud, not only by their athletic accomplishments, but how they conducted themselves while doing it.
At the annual Lancaster-Lebanon League All-Star banquet which was held days prior to the semifinal game, this was underscored by the fact that Donegal was announced as the team with the highest GPA in the league with a combined 4.12.
Numerous other honors were bestowed upon the players and Coach Shellenberger as well with the latter being named as the Section Two Coach of the Year while four Lady Indians were named to the All-League Team.
Making the roster were Grace Miller as a back, Saunders as a forward, Allessie as a midfielder, and Katie Jean at goalie.
CV's Dream Season Ends in PIAA Semifinals November 16, 2017
After a historic post-season run for the Lady Buckskin's soccer squad, their 2017 season has finally reached the end of the road in the PIAA State tournament semifinal matchup in which they were edged out 2-0 by Norwin High School.
The season reflects a whirlwind of accomplishments as the team progressed farther than ever before. The Lady Bucks capped their dominant year by claiming the top spot in L-L League Section I for the third straight season, seizing the District III playoff title, and advancing to the state semifinals before bowing out with a season record of 23-3-1.
Both the regular season and post season were brimming with obstacles and challenges. Overtimes, sudden death, PKs, injuries, and inclement weather describe just a bit of the dramatic season, but one thing never wavered, the tenacity of the Lady Bucks no matter which hurdle they were currently facing.
"We are very proud of what the team accomplished this season," commented head coach Keith Nagley. "We won the L-L Section I for the third consecutive year and won the first District III title for CV girls soccer."
Tuesday's contest against Norwin put a halt to their season, but can't cast a shadow on all they have accomplished. Norwin capitalized on a PK opportunity 15 minutes into the first half to give them the go-ahead, and managed to squeeze in their insurance goal 11 minutes into the second half.
Over the course of the season, the Lady Bucks racked up an outstanding 73 goals on their opponents, while only allowing seven. Sixteen players contributed to the scoring tally, while Lauren Yoder accrued 93 saves protecting the Buckskin net. Incredible defensive unity resulted in 20 shutouts.
In addition to their abundance of team milestones, several players also received individual accolades for their efforts.
"Lauren Yoder established new records in shutouts in a season (20) and career (46)," pointed out Nagley.
Senior Adalee Broadbent received All-State honors in addition to being named on the L-L League Section I, first team all-star roster. Fellow seniors Alexis Spencer and Emma Weirich, joined Broadbent in first team Section 1 selection.
Yoder and Sophomore Maddie Delgado represented the club in Section I second team all-stars, and Serina Blessing received the academic all-star recognition.
Though their season concluded in October, the Lady Bucks individual achievements were celebrated last Thursday at the L-L League Field Hockey All-Star banquet.
Two CV players represented the squad on this year's 17-player all-star selection, Callie Rumbaugh for her work on the defensive end, and Theodora Dillman in the midfield.
Dillman was also awarded the Linda Shelley Spirit award accompanied by a scholarship for her expected academic and athletic endeavors next year at Yale. The award honors the memory of the late Linda Shelley, former coach and official who passed in 2011 after battling ovarian cancer.
Conestoga Valley's Victoria Good was the recipient of one of five L-L League Coaches Association scholarships.
The entire Lady Bucks team was also named as this year's Section I Sportsman Award recipients, an honor determined by vote of the league coaches.
"The All-Star banquet put on by the L-L coaches is always an evening that offers up celebration; some for their athletic accomplishments, some for their stellar academics and some for both," noted head coach Lee Gerdes. "It is also a chance for us to remember Linda Shelly, a former standout official in the league," she added.
Two days after the celebration, the All-Star game was held, where the 17 honored players join forces to take on the all-stars from Berks County in a friendly day of competition.
"It was a terrific day-perfect weather and well played games," summarized Gerdes.
26-0 Comets Advance to PIAA Semifinals November 15, 2017
The top ranked team in the Nation confidently secured its fifth straight post-season shutout this past Saturday at Exeter Township High School, taking one more step in achieving a PIAA crown. Penn Manor, following up on Tuesday's 4-0 opening round victory over Central Bucks South, made quick work of Central Bucks East, ending the Patriots (19-5) season with a convincing 6-0 victory.
And like they did Tuesday, the Comets jumped in front early and never looked back.
"Scoring first is always a great way to start the game," said head coach Matt Soto.
Tuesday, at Warwick's Joseph Grosh Field, and despite some freezing rain, the Comets needed just a minute to jump in front of CBS. From the opening whistle, they sprinted toward the goal, earned the first of 21 corners, and capitalized. Emma DeBerdine took the insert at the top of the circle, dribbled to the right and centered the ball back to Gabby Bitts, who quickly sent the ball to the back of the cage.
Penn Manor's speed was again on display Saturday. Needing just 48 seconds, the District Three champs grabbed the upper hand against CBS when Alyssa Schriver made good on their first shot of the game.
The Comets finished with 15 shots and 13 corners and scored twice more before the half. DeBerdine, assisted by Bri Harsh, capitalized on Manor's sixth corner and pushed the lead to 2-0 with 10:54 left in the half.
"I thought Emma played great defense on their best player and also enjoyed offensive success," stated Soto.
Six minutes later they struck again, this time Anna May Barbusca sent a DeBerdine pass to the back of the cage and the Comets were on top 3-0 at the break.
"I was a little bit surprised by the lopsided score but when we click, we can score some goals," said Soto.
The Patriots, making just their second PIAA appearance, worked their only corner and only shot (saved by keeper Britney Hook) of the game late in the second half but by that time the Comets had tallied three more goals. Bitts, the team's leading scorer, collected her 34th and 35th goals of the season just five minutes apart after Barbusca's second goal pushed the lead to 4-0.
That six goal tally currently leaves the Comets with 144 total goals scored but just as impressive, if not more so, is the slim five total goals they've given up all season.
"Our defense has been very solid," said Soto of Lisa Schaefer, Mia Clancy, Brooke Spezialette, Autumn Gager and Britney Hook in goal.
The Patriots, the third place team out of District One, got to the quarterfinals with a 9-0 rout of District 2 champ Delaware Valley on Tuesday while the Comets took care of CBE.
With 21 corners against CB South (13-10-1), one might expect more than four goals scored but the Titan defense, for the most part, stood tall. Ten minutes after Bitts put the Comets in front, DeBerdine was on the receiving end of a Bitts pass that was sent to the back of the net for a 2-0 cushion.
The second half found Bitts again on the receiving end of a DeBerdine assist, making it 3-0 while Barbusca capped the scoring with 7:34 left in the game.
CB South's keeper, Jillian Heilig, picked up four saves on the day while the defenders in front of her chipped in with two defensive saves.
The wins push the Comets into the PIAA Class 3A semifinals where they will face Hershey on Tuesday, November 14 at Warwick at 7 pm. The Comets have dominated Hershey three times already this season by a combined score of 9-1. Hershey advanced with a 4-0 win over Conestoga.
"I'm not sure it's an advantage playing them again but we certainly have plenty of experience in playing them," Soto said. "We need to simply sharpen our entire game."
As voted on by the Section One coaches, four Comet soccer players received all-star recognition. Senior defender Conlin Groft was a first team selection, senior goalie Blake Martin and junior midfielder Hunter Enck were second team selections, and Conner Braun was an academic all-star.
Streaks Blank CD, Advance to 6A Semifinals November 13, 2017
Manheim Township moves on to play in the District Three Class 6A semifinals thanks to a 28-0 shutout of Central Dauphin on Friday night. The Blue Streaks, who closed out the regular season with a perfect 7-0 record against their Section One opponents, improved to 10-1 while the Rams ended their season at 6-5. In fact, the Rams' season opener was played at Manheim Township - a game the Streaks won 17-14 on September 1.
Head coach Mark Evans credited the defense with playing an outstanding game.
"Our defense kept us in the game," Evans said. "They had a convincing performance. Our defense allowed one first down in the first quarter and they [the Rams] didn't get one again until the fourth quarter."
Quarterback Luke Emge was one of the offensive starts for Manheim Township. The senior signal caller scored two rushing touchdowns and threw two TD passes, having a part in all four Township scores. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 142 yards.
Emge ran it in from 20 yards out to give his team a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. He threw an eight-yard TD pass to Brett Benjamin and a 10-yarder to Grayson Sallade for a pair of second-quarter scores. Jack Rodenberger's perfect day kicking PAT's helped make it 21-0 at the half.
Evans pointed to the sloppy play on offense and the need to clean up the errors - namely, turnovers.
"We almost beat ourselves a few times - turning the ball over five times," he said. "We had three takeaways defensively.
"We had a plus-10 turnover ratio coming into this game," continued the coach. "Now it's plus eight. It was an ugly win. But I would rather win ugly than lose pretty."
The Rams were held scoreless after having averaged 37.3 points in their six regular-season wins.
"I talked to our kids all week long, saying we couldn't take them for granted," Evans said. "They're a solid football team and for us to do what we did to them was unexpected. I felt confident that we could win. But I felt that we would have to perform very well, which our kids did.
"We've played Central Dauphin nine times in the past six years," continued the coach. "Twice in the playoffs they ended our season."
Township's regular season included decisive victories - some of which were 45 points or higher. One such win was the 38-14 defeat of the Wilson Bulldogs, who had won 68 straight Lancaster-Lebanon League regular-season games up to that point. The Bulldogs defeated Red Lion 42-7 in their opening-round game and will visit Manheim Township a second time.
"Now we have to try to do it twice," Evans said. "We know they're going to come in here fired up. We just have to go out there and do what we do best.
"It was great to get that first one out of the way," Evans said of the first-round game.
The Blue Streaks featured a trio of golfers who earned medals at the PIAA Class-AAA championships at Heritage Hills in York. Ellen Wager, Jacob Macinanti and Trey Kuntz were the medal recipients.
"I was extremely proud of their performances, "said head coach Steve Brenner. "All three are very talented players and they showed it at states.
"We were the only team there to have three players represented, which is a great accomplishment," Brenner added.
Macinanti finished ninth overall with a five-over par 74 in the state tournament. Kuntz finished 10th with a 77 at seven-over par in the two-day tournament on Monday and Tuesday, October 23-24.
Wager had a strong Monday but her shots weren't falling in as easily on Tuesday. She was 10-over par after being at even-par following Monday's holes. The junior finished in fifth place among the girls.
"To have them all finish in the top-10 and earn medals was icing on the cake," Brenner said. "It was also a great way for Trey and Jacob to end their high school careers."
The Blue Streaks came up short in a defensive battle with Downingtown West in a late afternoon playoff game on Tuesday. The Whippets had outscored their prior three opponents by an aggregate score of 11-1 en route to winning the District One title.
However, the Township defense held the Whippets to one second-half goal in this battle.
The Streaks end their season with a 15-9-0 record.
The squad says good-bye to seniors like leading goal scorer Asia Weaver (30 goals, 9 assists) as well as Katie Yoder (6 goals, 13 assists), Lexi Smith (4, 10), Lindsey Koser (7, 2) Emily Kurtz (1, 7), Olivia Witmer and Meredith Schultz, who had a pair of assists. Among those potentially returning is junior goalie Cat Wilson, who racked up 83 saves.
Barons Blank Waynesboro in District Opener November 13, 2017
Bound and determined to capture their first District Three Championship under head coach Dave Hahn, Manheim Central hosted No. 7 Waynesboro in an opening round meeting in Class 5A action on a breezy and cold Friday evening, November 10. Senior tight end Garret Fittery hauled in three first half touchdown receptions to lead the No. 2 seed Barons (11-0) to a whopping 55-0 victory against the Indians (7-3).
"I was very pleased. Our defense continued to play outstanding, our special teams were good, and our offense battled through the first two series before getting started," said Hahn.
Central's offense, finishing the night with 432 total yards, opened the scoring with 3:10 left in the first quarter. Evan Simon (8-14-148) hooked up with wide receiver Jake Novak (4-67) at the 6 yard line moments before a rollout 2 yard touchdown toss to Fittery. Evan Simon then converted on the extra point kick to take a 7-0 lead.
After another Indians' three and out, Evan Simon scrambled to the 44, then gunned a 42 yard touchdown pass to a wide open Fittery with just 10 seconds left in the quarter. Evan Simon drilled the extra point kick to go up 14-0.
"Garret Fittery continues to grow into his role at tight end," said Hahn. "He has the ability to block one on one and the finesse to run the routes, find openings and catch the ball. It is a nice combination and he did a great job of taking advantage of what the defense gave us," he added.
The Baron offense, with an 18-3 advantage in first downs, did not have to punt even once in the game and exploded for 27 second quarter points.
Linebacker Tyler Simon, just six seconds into the quarter, picked off an Indians' pass attempt and returned it to the 27 to establish more point scoring.
"Our defense has continued to play tougher each game, which is needed this time of year. We are going to need them to be ready again this Friday against Cocalico," Hahn stated.
Evan Simon fired a 24 yard touchdown strike to Novak on a risky fourth down play at the 10:32 mark and Evan Simon's extra point kick raised the score to 21-0.
Fullback Colin Erb added a 44 yard touchdown burst down the right side line and Fittery snared in his third touchdown of the game on a 9 yard rollout toss around the left side for a sizeable 34-0 advantage.
Late in the quarter, with Waynesboro being pinned deep in their own territory, Will Rivers blocked a punt attempt that bounced into the end zone and was pounced on by Erb for a touchdown with 1:47 remaining in the first half.
Evan Simon added the extra point to give the Barons a comfortable 41-0 lead at halftime.
It was a quiet second half for Central, scoring just twice. The L-L League's second ranked running back, Tyler Flick (22-128), picked up an 11-yard touchdown at 10:20 in the fourth quarter and in the final minutes, Novak hustled a fake punt for a 69 yard TD to cap the scoring for the night. Evan Simon nailed his seventh extra point of the game to secure the impressive shutout.
The Barons (11-0) will host 3rd seed Cocalico (10-1) in the semifinals this Friday slated for a 7PM kickoff.
"Cocalico is a great team. They are well coached, and they want revenge," said Hahn. "Our senses have to be heightened, we must be ready for everything they throw at us. I expect it to be a great game," ended Hahn.
The fifth place District Three field hockey team began their PIAA Class AA State Championship Playoff Tournament action with a first round clash with Mount Saint Joseph at Methacton High School on Tuesday, November 7.
After a 1-1 tie at the end of regulation, Codi Bollinger, on a feed from Maddie Hossler, found the back of the cage just 4:20 into overtime to defeat Mount Saint Joseph by a 2-1 final score.
Jenna Lutz, assisted by Lily Sipel at the 10:18 mark in the first half, scored the first goal of the game and the Barons held a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
Julianna Kratz, off a setup by Grace Wallis at the 20:43 mark in the second half, scored the game tying goal for MSJ.
Mikayla Regan only needed to make one save to preserve the win and propel the Barons into the quarterfinals.
Manheim's season, however, came to an end in that quarterfinal round on Saturday when crosstown rival Donegal pinned a 5-1 loss on the Barons (17-8) at Penn Manor's Comet Field.
Mackenzie Allessie led the Indians, who outnumbered the Barons 15-3 in penalty corners, with a four goal performance and teammate Lily Saunders also found the back of the cage.
With 1:18 remaining in the game, Maddie Hosler redirected a shot past Donegal goalkeeper Katie Jean (4 saves) and into the cage for the Barons only goal of the game.
Senior players this season were Maddie Hosler, Billie Jo Bollinger, Hannah Barbush, and Kassidy Breneman.
The District Three runner-up boys' soccer team began the PIAA Class AAA State Playoff Tournament in an opening round clash with District 12 champion Archbishop Wood at Northeast High School in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Zach Wheatley scored a hat trick for Archbishop Wood and ended the Barons magical season with a 5-1 final score. The team finished with an overall record of 13-7-2.
Wheatley scored in the 25th, 36th, and 40th minutes of play to propel Archbishop Wood past the Barons.
Zach Reed, with an unassisted shot, prevented the shutout with a goal in the 49th minute. He finished with a team-high 17 goals this season.
Senior players this season were James Bright, and Gareth Kemp.
Lady Pioneers Make PIAA Playoff Debut November 13, 2017
On a windy, rainy and chilly night at Souderton High School, Lampeter-Strasburg's girls' soccer team made their debut performance in the PIAA Class 3A tournament opposite Villa Joseph Marie last Tuesday, November 7. The Jems are a veteran playoff squad, having won seven straight District One titles. They have played in the state title game each of the last three years and have won ten PIAA crowns.
So to say the Pioneers had their work cut out for them was probably an understatement. But the pressure was on Villa Jo, not L-S. The Jems did prevail, 2-1 but L-S did not roll over.
"The girls have proven this year that no one is out of their league," said a proud head coach Emily Lebo.
The Jems did appear to have the upper hand in the first half, out stepping and out touching the District Three fourth seed. They took the first shot on goal and worked a pair of corners before L-S, with 23 minutes left in the half, put fourth their first attack. But that was short-lived. The Jems spent most of the first half forcing the Pioneers to defend. And defend they did. Keeper Bella DiCamillo came up with big save after big save and finished with nine on the night. Villa Jo finally broke in front, taking the lead with about 15 minutes left in the half.
"We did seem to be just a touch off for about 75 percent of the game," said Lebo. "I think we were much more affected by the wet conditions than they appeared to be.
"As for Bella, she played an outstanding game," Lebo lauded. "She has certainly made a name for herself in this back half of the season. She has made some textbook saves that have just been outstanding.
"And our back three (sophomores Emma Gochnauer, Lizzie Adams and Emma Houck) can be summed up with one word...solid. It will be great to have all four of them returning."
So Villa Joseph held a 1-0 lead at break and ten minutes into the second half scored what proved to be the game-winner. That goal came on the heels of Gochnauer's free kick that ricocheted off the post and to Kendal Ream who's follow up was just too high.
"We certainly had our moments," recalled Lebo, "with most of our urgency in the first ten minutes of the second half and the last ten minutes of the game. However, in the state playoffs you need to have urgency for more than 20 minutes."
Lampeter's last ten minute run resulted in a goal. Gochnauer sent a direct kick to the far post where eventually, Hannah Adams found the back of the net. It was just the seventh goal this season that VJM and their keeper, Maria Tunney, have given up.
"Where there's a will, there is a way," said Lebo. "While the outcome was not what the team wanted, I will always be happy if we have the ball at our feet last and are putting a final shot on frame which is exactly what we did with Maddy Stabinger having the final shot of the game with seconds to go."
Reaching the program's first-ever state tournament was unexpected this season. After all, the Pioneers finished sixth in Section Two and lost the first round of districts and graduated 12 seniors last year.
"To say we came into this season thinking it would be a "rebuilding year" would be an understatement," said Lebo. "This team grew immensely and proved to themselves, and many others, that L-S is a force to be reckoned with. The level of soccer these girls propelled themselves to this season made me one very proud coach. Our four seniors, Hannah Adams, Kendal Ream, Morgan Wilson, and Maddy Stabinger and our third captain, Bella DiCamillo, had high expectations this year and led by example. They have certainly left their mark on L-S soccer."
For the third year in a row, the football team won their district opener. Last year they blanked York Suburban 48-0 then fell to top seed Berks Catholic. In 2015, L-S topped No. 12 Palmyra 41-20 in 3A action and then lost 54-20 to Solanco. This past Friday night in Fredericksburg, the No. 6 seed needed a strong second half to knock off Northern Lebanon 34-19.
"We stalled out on a couple of drives and they made a couple of big plays," said head coach John Manion of the slow start. "But to bounce back from a 13-0 deficit on the road shows good character."
The No. 3 seed and Section Three champs took advantage of an L-S fumble on the one yard line and drew first blood with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Michigan Daub (13-30-2, 240 yards) to Christian Trader. The extra point was blocked but the Vikings held a 6-0 lead and then recovered the onside kick.
The hosts padded their lead in the second quarter when Stevie Herb exploded for a 72-yard run and a 13-0 advantage. This time L-S (7-4) responded. Todd Shelley, who completed 6 of 14 passed for 119 yards, hit Kris Pirozzi with a 42-yard strike, cutting the lead to 13-7 with 37.7 seconds left in the first half.
The visitors finally warmed up in the second half, outscoring the Vikings 27-6 to advance to the quarterfinals opposite Bishop McDevitt.
Cam Niemeyer's six yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter, set up by Ben Cardwell's second pick of the night, and Peyton Denlinger's second successful PAT kick, put the Pioneers in front, 14-13.
"Ben had two interceptions and they were momentum changers," said Manion. "And Peyton was 4-for-4 with extra points and had three touchbacks and one tackle on special teams. He had a nice game."
Northern Lebanon responded with a Daub to Trader 5-yard scoring play late in the third quarter but then ran out of steam. L-S finally took control, racking up three fourth quarter scores and the win.
Drew Smith, who rushed for 83 yards, opened the fourth quarter with a four-yard scamper up the middle just six ticks into the fourth. The two point conversion failed but L-S regained the lead, 20-19. The rest was icing on the cake. Shelley found Marc Wilson (39 rushing yards) for a 25-yard touchdown pass and Neimeyer, who led a 305-yard ground game with 114 yards, collected his second TD of the game, this time with a 25-yard run. Denlinger's PAT capped the scoring.
"I thought Jack Eckman did a phenomenal job at guard and Mason Rush, Anthony DelGrande, Cody Reiff and Aaron Jacoby all had strong games and Connor Blantz did a nice job blocking," said Manion. "Our defensive line showed its strength with Reiff, JT Hake and Tyler Dougherty all recording eight tackles. And Tyler Phenegar had a sack, one hurry and five tackles."
This week's challenge is No. 2 seed Bishop McDevitt (9-2).
"We need to play our game," said Manion. "But we need to have fun. All the pressure is on them."
Knights Football, Soccer Teams Alive in Playoffs November 13, 2017
Both of the Hempfield football teams that are alive in their respective post-season pursuits won in dramatic fashion within a span of 24 hours. First, it was the football team of pigskin variety scoring the game-winning touchdown with only 40 seconds to play in Friday night's District Three Class 6A opening round. In a PIAA Class-AAAA state quarterfinals match, the boys' soccer team earned a 1-0 overtime victory over Council Rock North on a goal by Drew Johnson.
In a match played at Downingtown West High School, the Knights battled a tough Council Rock North team in a defensive grudge match for much of Saturday's contest. Following 80 minutes of regulation play and with the Knights having had more close and dangerous chances than the Indians on a frigid night, the scoreless draw carried into overtime.
"It was a battle of wills - both teams determined to not let the other get off a quality shot," said head coach Mark Ashley whose team improved to 21-4-0. "There was a lot of midfield play.
"It was close," Ashely said in regards to possessing the ball. "We had better possession than they did. We had more opportunities also, but their keeper made some great saves.
"Also, I thought a few of our throw-in opportunities were close," continued the coach. "We didn't get the finishing shots, but I think we got good plays out of them. I also thought a couple of corners might lead to something but they defended them well."
The District One runner-up Indians (16-8-1) did survive several Hempfield scoring chances thanks to senior goalie Ed Mancinelli. He either scooped up shots directly at him or either punched away or plucked balls out of the air that Hempfield wingers crossed into the box.
The golden goal came 7:06 into overtime. An indirect kick by Christian Benedict near the left sideline was redirected by Daniel Hester toward the right goal post and finally to Johnson, who headed it past Mancinelli. In addition, Zach Wilson, without touching the ball, had a supporting role.
There was some strategy involved in how Hempfield's offense set up the scoring play. The attackers focused on isolating CRN senior Zachary Saifer whose height was an advantage for the Indians' defense in the box.
"The set piece there was that Zach Wilson ran to the side to bring out their number 55 (Saifer), who's about 6-foot-3," Ashley explained. "He knew that the guy was going to defend him, so we brought him out of the mix and he wasn't there to get the header. That freed Daniel up to be able to get a piece of it and head it back in for Drew to finish."
"Zach pulled us aside before the play and said he was going to take number 55 out," Hester explained. "He went the other way. He told Christian that I was going to hang back. Christian played in a perfect ball. I played it in and Drew was there to put it home."
"I just saw it coming toward me," Johnson said. "I figured it was the chance to win the game. I was just hoping it went in."
Johnson was mobbed by his teammates as well as those running onto the pitch along with the coaching staff to celebrate the winning score.
"It's really rewarding, especially with this group of players," Ashley said. "You love to see them succeed because they work so hard. They root for each other and the attitude out there is 'what can I do to help the team?'"
Ashley addressed the team's need to regain momentum as regulation drew to a close.
"We told the kids to just settle down and relax and get back to what got us here - passing the ball, finding feet of open men," he explained. "Another thing we tried was to have our strikers check back to midfield to try and get the ball rather than looking for it over top."
"The coach told us to do what we do best," Johnson said. "There have been a lot of games that we've won early in overtime. So we just wanted to come out and do it again."
"At the end of regulation we felt like we were a little hectic and a little out of sorts," Hester concurred. "We came off the field after regulation and we said 'Let's just go out there as hard as we can. If we win, great and if we lose, we do it with pride and good effort.'"
The Knights' opening-round victory was also a 1-0 final that saw the game's only goal scored on a set piece. Ashley was asked about the key to these plays.
"They're such a huge part of both defending and attacking," Ashley replied. "Of course it's a dangerous opportunity for your opponent, so you have to defend them well; you have to take advantage of them offensively."
The Knights earned their fifth straight post-season shutout. Earning this one while recording five saves was junior Tristan Green. In the prior games, Brady Ross had received the nod. However, the junior was battling an illness following the first-round victory earlier in the week.
"Brady Ross got sick in that game and had a fever," Ashley explained, referring to Tuesday's win. "Tristan had playoff experience for us last year. We felt confident with him and he stepped up."
Hempfield's next game will be against Peters Township.
In the opening-round match, which was played at Hershey, Ross made five saves in an intense 1-0 victory over Perkiomen Valley. The defense held off the Vikings after Wilson broke a scoreless tie 31:32 into the game. Hester's indirect kick found Wilson near the six-yard box and he headed the ball past the goalie.
"Zach is such a threat for us," Ashley said. "He's someone we trust in those situations."
The Knights advanced to the District Three 6A second round by defeating Dallastown 31-28 at Landisville Friday night. The game-winning drive was engineered by quarterback Mark Himmelsbach, who helped Hempfield move to the Wildcats' red zone where he called his own number from two yards out for the go-ahead touchdown.
The Knights entered the fourth quarter trailing 21-16, which included some missed opportunities along the way.
"We felt like we made a lot of little mistakes in the first half - blocking, route mistakes and missed assignments," said head coach Ron Zeiber. "Little mistakes will come back and bite you. We needed to eliminate them and play precision football. We rallied the guys up at halftime."
Himmelsbach put Hempfield on the board with a 40-yard run in the first quarter. The Wildcats scored two TD's in the second period - a four-yard run by running back Nyzair Smith and a five-yard rushing TD by quarterback Brett Smith with 2:13 left in the half.
Hempfield responded with a drive that culminated on Curtis Johnson's 25-yard field goal 10 second before the half, cutting the deficit to 14-10.
Though the Knights did come out with a mission in the second half, the visitors' offense was given another spark by Nyzair Smith on the Wildcats' first possession.
"Their first play from scrimmage goes for an 82-yard touchdown," Zeiber noted. "But we picked ourselves up."
Indeed, after Smith's TD extended the Wildcats' lead to 21-10, Himmelsbach brought his team back with a touchdown toss to David Martin-Robinson from 26 yards out. The Wildcats blocked the extra point, giving them the 21-16 lead after three quarters.
Max Teyral recouped the points for Dallastown on his two-yard rushing TD with 9:28 left to play in the game. Mitchell Groh's extra-point kick made it 28-16.
"The resilience of this team is pretty impressive," said Zeiber, whose squad improved to 8-3 on the year. "They keep fighting. They don't want to lose.
"David and Mark are two of the team's leaders," he added, referring to Robinson and Himmelsbach. "The team respects them on and off the field."
Himmelsbach gave Hempfield fans something to cheer about again, connecting with Darien Ressler for a 66-yard touchdown pass. It was his second TD pass of the game. He finished with 129-yards, completing seven of 15 attempts.
As for the winning drive, it started with less than a minute left. Himmelsbach, who also ran for 148 yards on 29 carries, went to work.
"We were in a no-huddle offense and Mark was calling the shots out there," Zeiber said. "He did a great job of getting us into the end zone."
The touchdown made it 29-28 Hempfield. Even with an extra point kick by Johnson, the Knights would have given the Wildcats 40 seconds to get into field goal range for Groh.
"We wanted to make sure we made it a three-point game," Zeiber explained. "A field goal would beat us. They have a good kicker we've played against before."
Zeke Rodriguez was on the receiving end of Himmelsbach's two-point PAT pass.
"Mark made a great read," Zeiber said.
The game was between the fourth-ranked Knights and the fifth-ranked Wildcats. Dallastown fell to 8-3 and finished 2017 on the same field where it started. In the season opener, Hempfield beat D-town 38-14 in a non-league game at home.
Hempfield's next opponent is Cumberland Valley. The Eagles improved to 9-2 with a 62-9 drubbing of Central Dauphin East on Friday.
"Now we go up against the number one seed," said Zeiber. "We have to play perfectly.
"In the playoffs you're going against good players who are very well-coached," continued the coach. "Sometimes it can be a shootout and who wins is based on who makes fewer mistakes," he added.
Sometimes the team with the more impressive record doesn't get the victory. Sometimes a district champion pitted against a runner-up from another district will come up short.
Despite their tremendous and tenacious comeback attempt on Tuesday evening, the District Three champion Black Knights lost to District One's fifth-place Garnet Valley Jaguars in a PIAA Class 4A state playoff match played at Manheim Township.
The Jags (18-5) won the first two sets, including a close 25-21 victory in the second. Hempfield came back with back-to-back 25-22 wins, forcing a tiebreaker fifth set. Garnet Valley hung on for a 15-9 victory, ending Hempfield' season at 18-2. The Jaguars (18-5) moved on to play in the quarterfinals.
Warriors Rally to Beat McCaskey, 66-28 November 6, 2017
After taking a 21-0 lead in the second quarter of the final game of the season against McCaskey on Friday night, Warwick allowed the Red Tornado to climb back into contention with 15 unanswered points before rattling off four straight touchdowns, including two defensive scores, to put the icing on a 66-28 victory.
Nick Fucci (20-121, 2TD) and Isaac Rissinger (18-106, 2TD) ran all over the field, as well as McCaskey's defense, in a game where the two sides put up a combined 836 yards of offense.
Rissinger and Fucci gave the Warriors a 14-0 lead in the second quarter after respective touchdown runs of 14-yards and 1-yard before a little tom-foolery on the part of Warwick led to another scoring drive.
Pietro Elliot and the rest of the Warriors' kick-off team lined up following Fucci's score and proceeded to attempt an onside kick that was successfully recovered by Warwick.
On the ensuing possession, Adam Ricketts (6-9, 159YD's, 2TD) found an open Hayden Rucci (1-35, TD) for his lone score of the night to make it 21-0.
Carter Forney (3-97, TD) put the Warriors back up by 21 when he and Ricketts connected on an 80-yard touchdown pass in response to McCaskey's own touchdown minutes earlier. Another Fucci score and a McCaskey touchdown made it 35-13 in favor of Warwick at halftime.
After an Elliot 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter, McCaskey started to show signs of life by scoring a touchdown and then capitalizing on a botched kickoff return by Warwick to score again and pull within 10 points at 38-28.
Rissinger and Alex Lawerence (7-46, TD) finished the offensive side of things when they both scored on respective runs of 3-yards and 14-yards before the defense forced two straight fumbles in the end zone which were both recovered by the Warriors for touchdowns.
Noah Martin and Connor Shields consistently posted the top two finishes for the boys' cross country team over the course of the regular season. That success led to the Warwick duo finishing 11th and 23rd, respectively, in the L-L League meet and 29th and 26th respective finishes in the District Three Class 3A meet.
While their results in Saturday's PIAA Class 3A race held at Hershey on the Parkview course were not as favorable, the two stood as the lone Warwick representatives in the field. After the dust had settled, Martin had finished 100th with a time of 17:11 and Shields was 122nd, finishing in 17:20 on the 3.1 mile course.
Martin was in 104th after the first mile with a 5:11 pace but despite dropping by 18 seconds in the second mile with a pace of 5:29 he had actually moved up in position to 103rd before taking advantage of other runners falling back to jump up three more spots before the end.
Shields, on the other hand, showed a much steadier pace that only fluctuated by 10 seconds over the course of the race and made tremendous strides moving through the dwindling pack.
His first mile was run in 5:25 and placed Shields in 194th but by mile number two he only dropped to a 5:35 pace and had already moved into 148th for an impressive move of 46 spots before bumping up by another 26 at the finish.
With a challenging first round match against 12th seeded Chambersburg in the District Three Class 4A Volleyball Championships that went to the deciding fifth set, Warwick advanced to the quarterfinals where they met up with number four seed Exeter Township (19-0).
The two teams squared off last Tuesday at Cumberland Valley High School where the Eagles got the better of fifth seed Warwick in a straight set win.
Exeter controlled much of the match in a 25-15, 25-23, 25-17 win where the Warriors barely missed out on a second set win that, had they come out on top, would have had a definite momentum change in their favor.
The Eagles started strong rattling off seven straight points in a first set where Warwick could not get into any kind of a rhythm due to Exeter's ability to handle the serve.
After dropping the first set, the Warriors again fell behind but were able to keep within striking distance at 24-18 before going on a 5-0 run to pull within one.
Exeter was able to break serve, however, and put an end to Warwick's comeback bid before cruising to victory in the third set and bringing Warwick's otherwise outstanding season to an end.
10-0 Barons Claim 24th L-L League Section Title November 6, 2017
Guiding Manheim Central to 10 straight wins, sophomore quarterback Evan Simon completed 14-of-18 pass attempts for a total of 257 yards, including four touchdowns, and sparked a 70-14 victory against Garden Spot on Friday, November 3. The win also captured Manheim's 24th L-L League Section Two crown on Senior Parents' Night.
"We are happy to come out of the game with another win," said head coach Dave Hahn. "With the exception of Garden Spot's first drive and one break down in another series, we shut it down and played tough. Going undefeated in Section Two is no easy task. We have built plenty of rivalries within the section, so each week we are going to get someone's best they have to offer. We are excited about the accomplishment," added Hahn.
Tyler Flick, who carried the ball 12 times for 128 total yards, opened the scoring with an 11 yard touchdown scamper around the left side at the 8:48 mark. Evan Simon who was perfect on 10-of-10 extra-point kicks, sailed the ball through the uprights out of the hold of Jake Novak for a 7-0 lead.
Garden Spot countered with a drive that started at their own 17 and ended with quarterback Cameron Roth (11-19-100) connecting a 6 yard TD roll out pass to Connor Finkey (4-25) with 4:28 left in the quarter. Kyle Willwerth added the PAT to tie the score at 7-7.
Manheim forged ahead when Simon hooked up with tight end Garett Fittery (2-28) on a 10 yard touchdown toss with just less than four minutes remaining on the clock, regaining the lead, 14-7.
Manhiem, however, exploded for 42 second quarter points to put the game out of reach. Flick opened with a 33-yard TD burst in the early seconds of the period. Giovanni Lester (8-65) came off the bench and tacked on a second effort 29 yard touchdown carry at the 7:06 mark and just over two minutes later, Evan Simon gunned a 35 yard touchdown toss to Tyler Simon (1-35), pushing the lead to 35-7.
Will Rivers came up huge for the defense, returning an interception to the 19 with under four minutes left in the first half. Several plays later, Evan Simon's 3 yard touchdown strike to Novak (6-135) at 2:42 extended the advantage. Novak has now surpassed Graham Zug's total career reception mark of 2,154 yards with 2,258 yards, becoming the all-time Baron leading receiver.
Tyler Simon's 21 yards interception for a touchdown was Manheim's fifth straight score.
"Turnovers are huge," said Hahn. "They are one of those statistics that determine your success. We want to make sure we win that category each and every game and I think we have, with the exception of the Solanco game," he added. "The turnovers in this game were key because we were able to capitalize on each one."
Stuck at their own 6, GS quarterback Roth, who has accumulated over 1,000 rushing yards this year (17-129) called his own number and raced up the middle of the field for a 94 yard touchdown at the 1:20 mark. Willwerth's extra point kick set the score at 49-14.
Only 51 seconds remained in the half and Manheim converted when Evan Simon hooked up with Novak in the corner of the end zone for a 13 yard score, giving the Barons a spacious 56-14 halftime advantage.
Manheim put up 14 more points in the second half as full back Colin Erb (1-1) plowed through the end zone in the third quarter and Lester scored from 9 yards out to complete the victory.
The No. 2 seed Barons will host 7th seeded Waynesboro (7-2) in the opening round of the District Three Class 5A Playoff Tournament this Friday slated for a 7PM kickoff.
"We want to take one game at a time," said Hahn. "Our focus now is Waynesboro."
The 6th seeded Lady Barons (16-7) won back-to-back games against Northern York and New Oxford in the consolations round bracket of the District Three Class AA Playoff Tournament last week.
"I was very happy with the team's performance coming out of the loss to East Pennsboro," said head coach Laura Gebhart. "We were focused on improving some details and executing around the goal cage."
With the two wins the team finished the tournament in fifth place and punched their ticket to the upcoming PIAA Tournament.
In game number one at Milton Hershey's Spartan Stadium on Wednesday, November 1, the Barons faced 7th seed Northern York. With hat tricks from Codi Bollinger and Maddie Hosler, Manheim routed the Polar Bears, 7-1.
Central, outscoring Northern York in penalty corners 13-4, scored five goals in the first half. Codi Bollinger, assisted by Maddie Hosler, found the back of the cage at 28:47 and just over two minutes later, Maddie Hossler, on a setup by Hannah Barbush made it 2-0.
Alexis Hosler's unassisted goal and Codi Bollinger, with a second tally, assisted by Hosler, doubled the lead to 4-0 at the 21:22 mark.
Maddie Hosler, late in the half, also scored her second goal, this time on a feed from Lily Sipel for a commanding 5-0 lead at the half.
Codi Bollinger and Maddie Hosler, assisted by Billie Jo Bollinger, each scored their third goal of the game in the second half and pushed the lead to 7-0.
Northern York's Katie Porko prevented the shutout with 4 seconds left in regulation.
Kassidy Breneman needed just two saves to earn the victory.
The team moved on to game number two in an early afternoon matchup with 5th seeded New Oxford at Courtney Pollock Field at Lower Dauphin Middle school on Saturday, November 4.
Sipel scored once in each half to lead the Lady Barons to a 4-0 shutout and their fifth place finish. They held a 13-1 advantage in penalty corners but led just 1-0 at the half when Sipel, assisted by Hannah Barbush, scored at 16:58.
They turned their offense up a notch in the second half with three goals. Billie Jo Bollinger's unassisted tally at the 28:01 mark, along with Alexis Hosler on a setup via Hannah Barbush at 15:38 upped the score to 3-0. At the 6:49 mark, Jenna Lutz setup Sipel's second goal of the game to secure the triumph.
Mikayla Regan and Breneman both shared the goalkeeping and did not have to make a single save to earn the shutout.
The team will meet Mount Saint Joseph Academy in the first round of the PIAA Tournament at Methacton High School this week.
David Merkey was the only runner from the cross country team to participate in the PIAA Class AAA State Championship Meet this past Saturday at the Parkview Course in Hershey.
Merkey, a senior who placed 17th one week ago in the district meet with a final time of 16:36, finished the course in 119th place out of 236 total runners, clocking a final time of 17:19.
The 7th seeded boys' soccer team was back in District Three Class AAA Playoff Tournament action taking on 3rd seed Greencastle-Antrim in a semifinals round collision on Monday, October 30 at Kreiser-Hallman Field at Lower Dauphin Middle School in Hummelstown.
Zach Reed scored twice to lead the Barons past the Blue Devils in a 3-2 overtime thriller.
Carson Brenize got the team on top at the 30:51 mark in the first half after jumping on a loose rebound and elevating a high shot into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Reed then added a goal five minutes later. The Blue Devils' Jason Freeman, however, notched an unassisted shot at 8:40 to trail Central 2-1 at halftime.
Greencastle-Antrim knotted the score 2-2 with about 27 minutes left in regulation on a goal by Brandon Stuhler, sending the game into overtime.
It was more Reed heroics as the junior forward was at the right place at the right time nearly 10 minutes into the extra period, receiving a pass from Gareth Kemp and drilling it into the back of the net for the game-winner.
Mason Nissley had another magnificent night between the pipes making five saves opposite Bryson Robinson who had three.
Playing for a district crown for the third time and first under head coach Rod Brenize, the Barons (13-6-2), who hoisted gold back in 2006, faced top seed Lower Dauphin (21-2-1) in the championship finals at Hersheypark Stadium on Thursday, November 2.
Nick Iagnemma had a two goal first half to boost the Falcons past Central 3-0 to capture their third straight district three championship trophy.
Iagnemma, at the 36:31 mark, scored his first goal of the night on a wide open shot for a 1-0 edge. Then, seconds after LD's first of eight corner kicks, at 27:14, he launched a shot over Nissley and into the back of the net, extending the lead to 2-0.
With just under five minutes left in the half, Manheim was issued a yellow card that gave Ryan Becher a chance to put the game out of reach on a penalty kick. Becher unloaded a shot that was barricaded by a diving save on the turf by Nissley (11 saves).
The Falcons, with early pressure in the second half, got an insurance goal by Becher at 25:30 to ice the shutout victory.
Play resumes against District 12 champion Archbishop Wood in a first-round state-playoff game this week.
Mules Cap Season With Loss at Cocalico November 6, 2017
Solanco's football team capped its 2017 season on the road this past Friday night against the second place team in Section Two, Cocalico. Despite opening the scoring and holding a 14-7 advantage, the two teams found themselves tied at 21-21 early in the second quarter. That, however, did not last long as the Eagles ran off six straight touchdowns and finished 6-1 in section play with a 63-28 victory.
"It wasn't a disappointing season," said head coach Tony Cox. "We competed better than the previous year. We had opportunities but didn't finish. That's how it's been all season."
Down 28-21, and with the ball on the one-yard-line, the Mules failed to punch it in.
"We could have tied the game at 21-21 but we couldn't finish," said Cox. "We need to teach them how to finish."
The Eagles, on the other hand, finished plenty in the second half, pulling away with a 28-0 third quarter effort.
Joel McGuire opened the scoring with a three yard keeper and, after the Eagles knotted the score, raced 29 yards to paydirt for another Solanco lead. McGuire also hit Alex McDonald with an 11 yard strike to tie the game at 21-21 in the second quarter. But that was it for the Mules until McGuire found Zach Poole with a 13-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. Evan Salisbury successfully kicked all four PAT's.
"We threw the ball a lot more than we have in the past," said Cox. "That's something we'll work more on in the off-season. We need to spread the offense more and if we can complete passes and protect the quarterback that will help next year. We were more confident throwing against Cocalico. We also had some success moving the ball but just couldn't punch it in," continued Cox. "We're right there. We just need to learn to finish. The bulk of our offense is back, so that will help.
"And once again we had a 1,000 yard rusher, this year in Nick Yannutz," Cox added. "And we were first or second in total rushing in the league."
Yannutz finished second in the league individually with 1,135 yards and nine touchdowns. McDonald finished seventh overall with 666 yards and seven TD's while McGuire, who scored 13 times, picked up 608 yards for tenth place.
The Mules finished the season at 3-4 in Section Two and were 4-6 overall.
"Even though we didn't win many games, this team competed hard," said head coach Ron Miller at the boys' end-of-the-year soccer banquet. "Even though they were inexperienced to start the season, they gained experience by playing as a unit on the field and backing each other," he continued. "I am proud of these young men and would lead them into battle any day. I would not want to coach anyone else."
And so the Mules capped their season with coach Miller announcing the following award winners.
Jack Boomsma - Coaches Award. "He's a kid that just does everything," said Miller.
Evan Salisbury - Players Choice Award for Most Valuable Player.
Evan Salisbury and Thomas Broomell - Co-MVP's as voted on by coaches.
Evan Salisbury - Offensive MVP. Thomas Broomell - Defensive MVP.
Salisbury finished his career with 22 goals and 20 assists. "He's the best all-around player we've had in six years," stated Miller. "He's a four-year starter and he scored seven of our 13 goals. He played in nine games and was injured for nine games. We only scored three goals in the games he was out," added Miller. "Evan and Thomas were our only real returning varsity players as 15 of our 21 kids played varsity for the first time. Thomas is a three year starter and anchored our defense."
Boomsma, Salisbury and Broomell were the captains, as voted by the team, this year. Salisbury was also a First Team All-Star while Broomell, an Academic All-Star with a 3.8 GPA, was voted as a Second Team All-Star.
Caden Kilgore and Sean Salisbury - Top Newcomers of the Year. "They're both sophomores," noted Miller. "Caden took a lot of our free kicks and Sean is probably our best ball handler."
Jake Smolik - Leadership Award. "Jake got thrown into the goalie position when Dylan went out," said Miller. "And he pretty much kept it. He talks a lot back there and leads by example."
David Harvey and Tom Fetterman - Sportsmanship Award. "These guys are both defenders and were always positive," Miller said.
Tyson Kilgore - Comeback Player of the Year
Mike Aukamp - Most Improved. "Tyson was out last year with a broken leg and came back to score two goals and two assists and mostly played outside mid," noted Miller. "Mike was a JV player last year who also broke his leg and worked very hard in the offseason and at camps to earn his starting outside mid spot."
The field hockey team finished the season with three wins against 15 losses but received individual recognition for their efforts. Abby Stull and Olivia Fisher were both L-L League Section Two Honorable Mention All-Stars while Stull, Andra Beiler, Autumn Aukamp, Emily Hastings, Jada Brown and Xiao Moore were Academic All-Stars. Hannah Myer also received the L-L League FH Coaches Association Scholarship.
"And I want to congratulate our team for being recognized as Team GPA Academic All-Stars," said head coach Whitney Hawkins. "I thank all of your for your hard work both on and off the field and in the classroom."
Stull and Fisher will participate in the All-Star game to be held at Donegal High School on November 12 at 2 pm when the Lancaster County All-Stars take on the Berks County All-Stars.