Cocalico wins in a landslide Eagles to host W. Perry in District opener West Perry (8-2) Cocalico (9-1) Inspired Eagles clinch section, claim Cup with 54-0 victory
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
With a Review Cup and a Section Two title firmly in their grips, the Cocalico football team will now move on to the District Three AAA Tournament, which gets underway Friday night.
The Eagles (9-1) are seeded fifth and will open up at home Friday vs. West Perry (8-2), the second place finisher in the Mid-Penn Colonial Division.
West Perry needed a win over Northern York in the regular-season finale to clinch a District berth, and the Mustangs did it in dramatic fashion.
Down 35-14 in the fourth quarter, WP scored 28 unanswered points to earn a thrilling 42-35 win and clinch the post-season berth.
Winners of six-straight games, West Perry enters Districts with a full head of steam.
The Mustangs possess one of the top passing games in the Mid-Penn, led by senior quarterback Zach Smith, a three-year starter.
Smith has thrown for about 4,000 yards in his three-seasons at QB, including 1,512 and 20 touchdowns this season. Smith is a dual threat quarterback who leads his team with 772 yards and 16 scores on the ground (6.1 YPC).
When Smith goes to the air, Keeghan Morrison and Chase May have been his favorite targets. May has 35 catches for 627 yards and 11 touchdowns while Morrison has also caught 35 passes for 602 yards and four scores.
While Smith has the majority of the rushing yardage, running backs Kurtis Rider (548 yards, four scores) and Ryan Olszewski (138 yards, one score) help compliment the running game for the Mustangs, who average 32.1 points per game.
"They have a super QB and some talented receivers," Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. "The QB averages over 150 yards passing and 90 yards rushing per game, so he has our full attention. The receivers are big, physical kids and catch the ball extremely well.
"Our plan is to continue playing defense the way we have all year, aggressively. We hope that our discipline and quickness will help prevent the ‘big play’. (Smith) is very talented, but we will look for a total team effort on Friday night."
Defensively, West Perry is an "attacking, swarming" unit that allows 21.9 points per game.
The big question is, can they slow down one of the most productive run offenses in the L-L League?
Led by 1,000-yard rushers Spencer Moser (16 touchdowns) and Nick Reitenbach (14 scores), the Eagles have carved up defenses to the tune of almost 380 yards per game. Quarterbacks Brock Gosling (96 carries, 499 yards) and Jhett Janis (31-206) are veterans who really have a knack to running the veer-option attack to perfection.
What’s it going to take for the Eagles to continue that success Friday night?
"It all starts up front," Gingrich said. "Our line and tight ends will have to establish the line of scrimmage and allow our skill kids to have some room. We will have to be aware of the pressure they bring and eliminate the negative plays."
The Cocalico defense has been quite stingy, allowing just 227 total yards a game and 12.1 points per contest.
The winner of Friday’s game will face the winner of the first round game between fourth-seeded Lancaster Catholic and 13th seed Hershey.
While Cocalico missed the playoffs a year ago, the Eagles did advance all the way to the District finals two seasons ago.
What will it take for them to make a similar run in 2012?
"Beat West Perry," Gingrich said. "That is the only thing that matters. Right now, everyone in the post season is 0-0. Our goal is prepare diligently and play as hard as we can. There are no second chances. If you lose you collect equipment, you win and continue the journey… and what a journey these kids have blazed." Red Land(L) 40-16
E. Pennsboro(W) 31-26
Big Spring(W) 35-14
James Buchanan(W) 42-6
Northern(W) 42-35 Daniel Boone(W) 40-7
Gov. Mifflin(L) 28-14
Conestoga Valley(W) 48-0
Manheim Central(W) 48-35
Ephrata(W) 54-0 This past week was anything but normal for the Cocalico football team.
Like everyone else, the Eagles were inconvenienced by the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Unlike most, they were dealing with a horrible tragedy, one that not only impacted the Cocalico community but one that hit very close to home with the death of former star quarterback Brett Janis, older brother of current junior player Jhett.
On top of all that, they had a football game to play with a lot at stake. A win over surging Ephrata in the regular-season finale not only would give the Eagles the Ephrata Review Cup, but would clinch a Section Two title.
A year ago, Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said, this team might not have been able to handle all of that. This season, not a problem at all.
Cocalico (9-1) scored on all five of its first-half possessions Friday night and cruised the rest of the way for an eventual 54-0 victory over the Mounts to hoist the Review Cup and also clinch its first Section Two title since 2008.
The Eagles will now open District Three play Friday night at home vs. West Perry (8-2).
"They just handled everything so maturely," Gingrich said of his team following the win. "They are a year older, a year wiser and more mature. That’s a tribute to them."
Running backs Spencer Moser (10 carries for 82 yards) and Nick Reitenbach (9-92) both went over the 1,000-yard mark in rushing for the season in the impressive win, and starting QB Brock Gosling ran for 70 more yards and three scores. But the night belonged to the younger Janis, who not only played but delivered quite a performance in honor of his brother. Janis rushed for 41 yards and a touchdown on just three carries, set up another score with a 30-yard interception return, had several big returns in the kicking game and was a bull to bring down all night long.
"I knew we would get his best effort but I didn’t know where his head was going to be," Gingrich said of Janis. "He was very focused, had a nice interception out there on a good play…The determination and the drive he had in that situation he’s in speaks volumes of the type of kid he is."
Janis said there was no doubt he was going to play and play well on this night.
"Every play, every down was definitely for him," he said of his brother. "I just came out and played as hard as I can. It was tough because I wish he could have been here. I know he was definitely watching and I have no doubt he helped me out tonight."
Teammate Zach Rissler said he watched in amazement at the way Janis played.
"First of all, I don’t know how he came out and played," Rissler said. "That was just incredible, all the heart he showed. He played amazing. Every time he touched the ball he didn’t want to get tackled, got extra yards every time….I’m pretty sure he was playing for his brother."
Ephrata Coach Scott Shelley, who was an assistant at Cocalico when Brett was there, also was impressed with Janis.
"He was fantastic," Shelley said. "I coached Brett for three years and I couldn’t have been happier for (Jhett), to be honest. I know Brett was looking down and I’m sure he had a big smile on his face. He ran hard and we couldn’t bring him down. I give the kid all the credit in the world for giving it all he had. I know he was doing that in Brett’s honor. It was a special night for him in that respect but very bittersweet in the other respect."
Ephrata came in with hopes of duplicating the 21-20 upset of the Eagles two years ago. However, those hopes quickly vanished as the Eagles put up 21 points in the first quarter.
The tone was set on Cocalico’s first play from scrimmage when Gosling was hit after a short gainer and the ball came loose. But Moser was right there to scoop it up and take it 36 yards to the house to give the Eagles a quick 7-0 lead.
"That started the downfall," Shelley said. "We stopped (Gosling) dead in his tracks and the ball bounces seven yards right into the arms of Moser and he runs it in for a touchdown…After that it was "Katie bar the door."
A bad snap by the Mounts in punt formation at the Ephrata 18 led to Cocalico’s second touchdown when Reitenbach went straight up the middle for an 11-yard score. Then after Ephrata went three-and-out, the Eagles went 58 yards in seven plays to take a commanding 21-0 lead with 2:55 left in the first.
Janis made it 28-0 early in the second on a 13-yard keeper around left end. Then one play later, he picked off Ephrata QB Bobby Nye at the 35 yard line and returned it all the way to the five. Two plays later, Moser cashed in on a one-yard run to close out an impressive first half by the Eagles.
"All week we just focused on this game," Rissler said. "We knew what happened two years ago and we didn’t want anything like that to happen again. Coach kept reminding us about that. We just knew coming in that we could beat them if we brought our game and didn’t let up. And then with everything happening with Jhett yesterday, that added a little more motivation, and with the section (on the line) we definitely had a lot to play for."
Gosling added touchdown runs of three and 16 yards in the third period as Cocalico upped the lead to 48-0, and closed it out with a four-yard TD run by third-string quarterback Jeremy Marshall in the fourth.
"I’m just proud of the kids that we have," Gingrich stated. "I don’t know if we have any superstars on this team. We have good, blue-collar kids that work hard, have great attitudes and enjoy spending time with one another. I think that’s the key. They didn’t care who got the credit.
"I’m just really impressed about the type of kids they are, and our assistant coaches just coach and coach and coach and have great relationships with the kids. I think that’s what it’s about — having great relationships with the kids, and that’s what our guys do."
While Cocalico was celebrating a great win and looking ahead to the playoffs, the Mounts and Shelley were in reflection mode following the loss.
Ephrata, which closed out its season at 2-8 in Shelley’s first year, made a lot of headway, despite the record.
"No doubt about it I think we are on the right track," Shelley said. "We had a long way to go. I said it all year and I will continue to say it, ‘this is not going to happen overnight.’ There are so many things you have to go through and experience, and then try to look back and say, ‘how do we do better?’ I think the kids learned a lot this year in that respect. I’m glad we got the two wins. Yeah, I think we probably could have won at least four games, but that being said, that’s just the way it goes.
"As far as learning football is concerned, I think we started out at a deficit and I think we came a long way. We took over with one starter and we are probably going to have eight or nine starters back on both sides of the ball next year. We played a tremendous amount of kids, and that’s a big plus for us. We knew it was going to be a challenge, and I think we prepared ourselves well for next year." More CUP, page B-2 More DISTRICTS, page B-2