Cocalico-Lancaster Catholic

By on October 31, 2014

Eagles, Crusaders to meet with a lot on the line

The last two years, Cocalico and Lancaster Catholic have ended each other’s season.
The Crusaders knocked off the Eagles two years ago in the District quarterfinals and last year, Cocalico returned the favor in the second round of Districts.

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This Friday, the two teams will meet again but this time as Section Two foes in what amounts to a “must-win” game for both teams.

As the 15th seed in Districts, Catholic (4-5) needs a win in Denver Friday to keep its season alive. A loss would severely hurt the Crusaders’ chances to earn a berth in Districts, which begin next week.

As for Cocalico (6-3), which missed out on a golden opportunity to remain tied atop Section Two with L-S following its 14-7 loss to Solanco, the Eagles need a win to keep their chances alive for a share of the Section Two crown. A Cocalico win and an L-S loss to Garden Spot would get that accomplished.

Seeded ninth in the current District Three Power Rankings, the Eagles should advance to Districts, win or lose Friday. As for this week’s match-up, Lancaster Catholic is led by senior running back Nassir Weaver, who heads into the final weekend of the regular season as the leading rusher in the L-L League with 1,171 yards.

Quarterback Jordan Scott is also a threat through the air, having tossed 1,100 yards and seven touchdowns on the year.

As for Cocalico, quarterback Brady Sawyer will start just his second game of the season Friday after replacing the injured Dante Haines during their 26-24 win over Manheim Central two weeks ago.

While the Eagles do not feature much of a passing game, their running attack continues to churn out yards. Junior tailback DJ Fabiani leads the team with 713 yards and eight touchdowns on just 75 carries on the year.
Recently, Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth chatted with Lancaster Catholic Coach Bruce Harbach and Cocalico’s Dave Gingrich on the upcoming matchup:

Todd Ruth: Coming off of the disappointing loss to Solanco, what do you guys need to fix heading into the Catholic game?

Dave Gingrich: Well, the first thing we must do is clean up our turnover issue. This has been an issue most of the season. Some of the turnovers have been forced, others haven’t. You can’t beat a good team like Solanco and turn it over four times.
TR: How big of a disappointment was it for you guys, especially coming off such an emotional win at Central?

DG: Any time you lose, there is disappointment. It should hurt. The team has invested a lot and when you come up short, it will sting. I am disappointed for the kids. We had put ourselves in a position that we controlled our own destiny in terms of the section. Now, we must win and hope for Garden Spot to upset L-S.

TR: Turning to Catholic, this is turning into a bit of a rivalry with them, since you both ended each other’s seasons the last two years. Do you see it that way or is this just another game on the schedule?

DG: Catholic is coming to Section Two from Section One. They played with the big boys the last two years. They have won two state championships. I don’t know about a rivalry. They are super well coached. They have great tradition and great players. This is an important game for our kids as we still have a chance for a section title.

TR: Coach Harbach, what’s it like for you guys to face a program such as Cocalico’s?
Bruce Harbach: You always have to be well prepared for Cocalico. They are very well coached and a discipline football team. However, this is Week 10 and we treat it like any other week. Practice and prepare for your opponent.

TR: You guys are sitting at 15th in the District, making this an obvious must-win game. Does that give your team any added motivation coming into Friday or is it just business as usual?

BH: We need to get a signature win against a quality opponent. We have a lot to play for, a .500 season, a playoff berth, momentum into next season, etc. I hope our kids understand what is at stake for us.

TR: Cocalico, like many of the top teams in Section Two, has been a bit up and down this year. What are your thoughts on them heading into Friday?

BH: Don’t be fooled by their play. They are a very good football team. I like what they try and do on both sides of the ball. They, like us, have been a victim of some costly mistakes all season. We will have to be able to move the football and keep their offense off the field which will be a huge challenge for us.

TR: Coach Gingrich, Catholic seems like a very dangerous team, in spite of their 4-5 record. What are your thoughts on the Crusaders prior to the matchup?

DG: As I said before, they are super well coached. Any time you have three head coaches (one present and two past in Harbach, Jim Cantafio and Gerad Novak), you know that they are going to be put in the right position. They are huge up front and have some great skill players. We will need to play with lots of emotion and execute in all facets of our game.

TR: Coach Harbach, what are your biggest concerns going in?

BH: Stopping the veer. Last year we had it controlled the first half, but they stuck with their game plan, made a few adjustments, and took it to us the second half. You can’t just focus on one part of their offense, but you have to try and take something away and hope they make mistakes. Their defense is very aggressive and really comes off the ball. We will have a tough time blocking them up front.

TR: What do you feel you need to do to win the game?

BH: Use ball control to our favor. Field position could be a big factor in the game. Make a few stops and hope the ball bounces our way.

TR: And Coach Gingrich, what has to happen in order for you guys to win this Friday?

DG: We will have to play 48 minutes of our best football.

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