Eagles beat Mules but miss playoffs
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Cocalico needed to win Friday night in Quarryville, and have other results fall its way in order to qualify for the District Three playoffs.
To their credit, the Eagles did their part.
Cocalico used five turnovers and the power running of fullback Nick Reitenbach to upend host Solanco 35-21 in the Section Two finale.
Problem was, the Eagles, who were ranked 18th in the District power ratings going into Friday, didn’t get the help from other teams that they needed. And by virtue of Donegal’s 49-34 victory at Columbia, it was the Indians who edged out Cocalico for the 16th and final spot.
For the third-straight season, Cocalico (5-5) entered its regular season finale vs. Solanco needing a win to have any shot at the playoffs. And, according to Coach Dave Gingrich, they played the game they needed to play against the Golden Mules.
"Our guys played well," Gingrich said. "It seems that at least the three years we have played them, either us or both of us have had playoff implications on the line. In ’09, it was homefield for us or they get in. Last year it was either them or us getting in and this year, we were fighting for the playoffs. It was a good, physical game."
Despite missing out on the post-season a year after making the District finals, Gingrich said he liked the way his young team closed out the year winning four of its last five contests.
"We are disappointed in the fact that we don’t have another week together to improve," he said. "But we are most proud of the way this group finished."
Cocalico started the night quickly, scoring on the game’s second play as Reitenbach broke through the line and was gone for a 54-yard touchdown run just 45 seconds into the contest.
Solanco did tie the game late in the quarter when quarterback Tyler Stitz hit Dustin McVey for a 61-yard scoring strike. However, the Eagles responded with two scores in the second quarter to take a 21-7 lead into the locker room.
First, Spencer Moser, who rushed for 89 yards on 10 carries, scored on a four-yard run with 5:37 to go in the half. Then, after killing the clock by spiking the ball with one second left in the half, Reitenbach got into the endzone for the second time of the night on a three-yard jaunt.
Solanco did cut the deficit to 21-14 in the third when running back Joe Welk broke off a 59-yard touchdown run. But quarterback Brock Gosling scored on a one-yard plunge before he hooked up with Mitch Deering on a 24-yard TD pass to make it 35-14 heading to the fourth.
Welk scored the final touchdown of the night on a two-yard run but Cocalico put this final win of 2011 away down the stretch.
In addition to piling up 300 yards on 52 carries, the Eagles’ defense forced those five key turnovers (including four interceptions) to highlight the victory.
""(Those turnovers were) a big part of the game and our execution (offensively) was pretty good as well," Gingrich said.
As far as the season is concerned, Gingrich said he was pleased with the growth of the team that graduates just a handful of seniors.
"The word we used from Day One was ‘improvement,’ and I believe these kids took that to heart," Gingrich said. "They improved day by day and week to week. I loved the way they competed and never quit. Our assistant coaches need to be commended as well. They took a group of inexperienced kids and taught them, encouraged them, and strained them on a daily basis." More EAGLES, page B-3