Barons blitz Cocalico

By on October 4, 2017
Cocalico’s Brandon Brubaker (25) and Nik Anderson (58) try to bring down Manheim Central QB Evan Simon during Friday’s showdown in Denver. Photo by Denise Mitchell

Cocalico’s Brandon Brubaker (25) and Nik Anderson (58) try to bring down Manheim Central QB Evan Simon during Friday’s showdown in Denver. Photo by Denise Mitchell

Second-half surge lifts Manheim to big 17-7 win

Manheim Central Coach Dave Hahn isn’t fooled by how simple and plain Cocalico’s veer offense appears to be. It can be subtly intricate, and if you are not focused on playing sound, assignment football, you will get burned.

With that in mind, Hahn and the Barons simplified things defensively Friday night in Denver as the two undefeated teams locked horns once again. And the results were impressive to say the least.

The Barons shut down the L-L League’s top offense, holding Cocalico to a season-low 194 yards in total offense, including just 166 on the ground. And, Cocalico’s bruising fullback Brandon Brubaker, a 2,000-yard career rusher, was limited to just 31 yards on six carries.

With that kind of defensive performance, the Central offense eventually took over in the second half, breaking a 7-7 tie with 10-unanswered points down the stretch to earn an impressive 17-7 victory over the Eagles.

Tyler Flick, who rushed for 110 yards on 20 carries, broke the 7-7 tie with a two-yard plunge midway through the third quarter to put the Barons ahead to stay. Niko Gavala’s 31 yard field goal with 8:59 to go sealed it as the Barons improved to 5-0 (2-0 section) while handing Cocalico (4-1, 1-1) its first loss.

“We took a lot out of the defensive package and we just played,” Hahn said of his team’s defensive effort following the win. “We took less out so you are not thinking as much. You got to play fast, you got to play physical with this team…you got to be discipline and the secondary has to keep an eye on the receivers. You cannot get your eyes caught in the backfield because you’ll get beat every time. Tonight, they did that. They were fantastic.”

Actually, the Barons were fantastic on both sides of the ball in the second half. Offensively, they went on long, time-consuming drives by pounding the football. Their first two possessions produced points, and their third and final drive resulted in three first downs to run out the clock.

“We ran our ‘jumbo package,’” Hahn said of his second-half offensive attack. “We just wanted to get more guys into the game and just pound them. I think getting a little bit more physical with them and taking it to them kind of tired them out. You saw them trying to get guys in and out, and we were getting them back on their heels, which allowed us to continue to run the ball. I think doing that was good on our part.”

“Manheim just played quicker, faster, they got off their blocks and we didn’t stay on our blocks, we didn’t get off our blocks…they just were much more aggressive in the second half and we had some breakdowns with some dumb penalties, undisciplined reads,” Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. “The second half they just seemed to play a little harder than we did and that’s my responsibility to get our kids to play hard. We just didn’t play as fast as they did in the second half.”

“I don’t think I called a very good game but offensively (the Barons) did a nice job. They really just attacked and we kind of stood back and waited. I don’t know why we waited for things, and we were just very indecisive. We’ll have to look at the film and make the corrections on the indecisiveness. We were just kind of waiting, and you can’t wait against a team like that. They will just take it to you.”

Manheim quarterback Evan Simon (4-9-1, 99 yards) gave the Barons a 7-0 lead just six minutes into the first quarter when he hit Jake Novak on a crossing route, and the senior wideout out-ran the pursuit on his way to a 68-yard touchdown.

Then, after Manheim got it back when Joe Kolk recovered an Owen Zimmerman fumble at the Cocalico 34, the Eagle defense dug in and forced a turnover. Tyler Hertzog came up with a big sack on first down, and on the next play, Simon was pressured and forced a throw that was picked off by the Eagles’ Garrett Longenecker, who returned it to the Baron 47.

Cocalico then finally got its offense going, as quarterback Noah Palm, who led the Eagles with 64 yards on 26 carries, called his own number six times on a nine-play drive that ended when the sophomore QB scrambled in from 12 yards out to knot it at 7-7.

But after Cocalico was forced to punt on its initial third quarter drive, the Barons went “run heavy” and moved 66 yards on nine plays before Flick cashed in with his score with 4:36 to play to put his team ahead to stay.

Ironically, the lone pass play of the drive is what helped lead to the score as Simon threw an incompletion on a second-and-nine play but a roughing the passer penalty called on Cocalico put Manheim in position to continue the drive and eventually score the go-ahead points.

“We don’t have many guys playing both ways but the guys that we do have playing both ways I think they got warn down a little bit,” Gingrich said. “They imposed their will a little bit more in the second half, and I really don’t have an explanation for why. We’d make a play or two and then we get hit with that costly penalty that gave them a first-and-10, and the next play we miss a tackle and they go for 15…next play they gang us for like 15-extra yards because they keep pushing the pile. We just didn’t handle the adversity as well as we needed to handle it.”

Cocalico did follow the go-ahead score with a nice drive deep into Baron territory. However, an incompletion on fourth down at the Manheim 23 turned the ball over on downs, and the Barons in turn drove the length of the field to set up Gavala’s big insurance field goal.

The Eagles did move the ball again, trying to narrow the score midway through the fourth. However, Palm was sacked by Manheim’s Colin Erb on fourth down at the Baron 18, and the Eagle offense never saw the ball again.

“I think the kids have a lot of confidence in the fact that if we stick together and we don’t give up, we are a tough team to beat,” Hahn said. “If we stick together, don’t give up and keep battling no matter what the circumstances are and hang in there together, we are tough. And I just think that gives them all the confidence that no matter what the situation or what the circumstances are in a game, we’re in it.”

While it was a big blow losing to the Barons, Gingrich said his Eagles don’t have much time to lick their wounds with a road trip to undefeated Cedar Crest on the horizon this Friday.

“Well, you don’t have a choice,” he said. “We have to play an undefeated Cedar Crest team next week so it doesn’t get any easier.”

“But we still have all of our dreams ahead of us. We still have our goals ahead of us. Last year we beat Manheim in this game and they came back and got a share of the section and played for a District championship. So, adversity will happen in life. It’s not what happens tonight. It’s what happens tomorrow and the next day and the next day. It should hurt. It’s got to hurt. But after the hurt is done we got to go back to work and get better, figure out where we made our mistakes and make the improvements.”

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