Dutchmen up next for Ephrata Friday at War

By on October 7, 2015

A familiar face returns to War Memorial Field Friday when former Cocalico assistant Matt Gingrich, brother of Eagles’ Head Coach Dave Gingrich, brings his Annville-Cleona squad to Ephrata to face the Mounts in a Section Three battle.

The Dutchmen opened the season with three-straight wins but have since lost their first two section games, including last week’s heart-breaking 40-39 setback at the hands of Elco.

Both the Dutchmen, as well as Ephrata, badly need a win Friday.

Like his brother at Cocalico, Gingrich, in his first year as head coach, leans on a potent rushing attack out of the veer-option. Senior quarterback Adam Fox leads the way, rushing for 450 yards and eight touchdowns on 67 attempts thus far. Fullback Will Langan also has been a work-horse, carrying 72 times for 399 yards and five scores.

The Dutchmen rarely go to the air as Fox has thrown for just 198 yards and a pair of scores.

Defensively, the Dutchmen have struggled in the run game, giving up 226 yards on the ground per game.

Certainly, that is where Ephrata hopes to take advantage. Despite their 0-5 record, the Mounts’ offense has shown some life as of late, putting up a season-high 26 points two weeks ago in a loss to unbeaten Northern Lebanon.

Quarterback Jerrad Malmer has rushed for 240 yards on the year and has thrown for 158 yards and a score.

Like the Dutchmen, the defensive side has been Ephrata’s Achilles Heel. The Mounts give up an average of 375 yards per game.

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Earlier this week, Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth chatted with Gingrich and Ephrata Coach Scott Shelley on the upcoming match-up:

Todd Ruth: Coming off Friday’s loss to York Suburban, what is the biggest thing or things that you need to correct?

Scott Shelley: Finding people who can play in the secondary. And in all fairness, it’s a matter of we are working hard, getting third downs over and over again and then we let them out because of a cheap pass. It’s frustrating for the front eight, who are trying to do their jobs stopping the run, and then we give up a cheapy. I know it gets frustrating. So again we keep trying to find that combination in the secondary that’s going to do the job.

TR: Coach Gingrich, after two-straight losses, what are you guys looking to correct heading into Week Six?

Matt Gingrich: We are looking for some sort of consistency on offense, defense and special teams. We are really looking to play 48 minutes of football for the first time this year. Also, we are trying to focus on playing the next play. Our kids are really struggling with letting the past play go and moving forward…hence, our bad quarters and halfs.

TR: Coming off a tough loss as you did this past week, how do you feel your kids will respond this week?

MG: Well we had a great day of practice (Monday), so I am looking for them to respond positively. We don’t have a huge rolodex of plays, so it has more to do with execution and effort than anything else! To be quite honest with you, I slept a lot better after this tough loss than the week before because we did really put forth a great effort.

TR: Coach Shelley, in facing Annville-Cleona this week, you face an offense very similar to the one you faced at Cocalico earlier this year. What are your biggest concerns against them?

SS: We got to stop their fullback (Langan). Their fullback is their best player, no doubt about that. If we can stop him and make them do some other things, that should really be a big help to us. I think they have been struggling on defense a bit and I think we can move the ball on them. If we can cut down on the mistakes on our part, and be accountable for what we are suppose to do position-wise…I feel this way all of the time but we have a chance. It’s just a matter of us putting a whole game together. I mean, are they beatable? Sure they are. As long as we do what we need to do. If we can put some long drives together and keep the ball away from them, we have a chance.

TR: How do you think your offense is progressing?

SS: I think our offense is doing a real good job. The problem we have is we keep losing running backs. Guys that have been starting for us are now not playing, and then we have other guys who are just coming back…That’s become a big issue as well. I mean, everything is a numbers game right now. The line is doing a real nice job opening holes. That makes a world of difference. We had some good runs Friday. Jerrad Malmer is running the veer very well. The last touchdown that we scored I could have sworn Evan Frees had the ball and next thing you know Jerrad is running for a touchdown. He had some real big runs. He’s reading the plays properly and is guiding the offense very well. The thing we have to do is we got to connect on some passes when we have guys open. That’s the one issue we also have got to keep working on. But overall, our offense is doing a good job. We are going to continue to battle, and hopefully the next couple weeks good things will happen.

TR: Coach Gingrich, looking at Ephrata, which is obviously having a tough year, what are your biggest concerns about facing the Mounts?

MG: Any time you are a AA school, you can’t worry about whether a AAAA is having a tough year. It might be tough, but they have a boatload of athletes and good coaches. We really need to focus on each play, not records.

TR: Finally, what will be the keys for you guys to get a win Friday night?

MG: Effort every play, execution of that effort. Playing the next play and not letting the last one interfere with the next one. Lastly, playing for each other.

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