Eagles dump Mules, look ahead to Barons
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
Through the first five weeks of the season, Cocalico has resisted the temptation to look ahead, talk or even think about Manheim Central. All the Eagles have done is week by week, take care of its business at hand.
Now, after their fifth Mercy Rule win of the season, a 48-0 victory over host Solanco Friday night, Cocalico (2-0 Section Two, 5-0 overall) can finally put its full, 100 percent undivided attention on the Barons (2-0, 5-0).
"It’s just time to give the people what they want," quarterback Jhett Janis said after leading his team to its fifth-straight win Friday night. "This is going to be the game where the big time players in the L-L are going to step up. The stage is set. Now it’s time to go out there and play."
Janis had a big hand in the Eagles’ victory Friday night. The 5-10, 200-pounder returned a punt 63 yards for one touchdown, took back an interception return 80 yards for another score, and threw a 15-yard TD pass to Mitch Shober for another six points on a 5-for-9 (54 yards) passing night. He also rushed for 43 yards on 43 carries on another spectacular night by the senior.
Tailback Spencer Moser chipped in with a team-leading 85 yards on 12 carries as the Eagles rolled up 283 yards on the ground and kept pace with the Barons, setting up what figures to be one of the most intriguing match-ups of the season next Friday in Denver when the undefeated Section Two heavyweights lock horns.
"I would say up until tonight our team was playing pretty well," Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. "We just didn’t play a great game and I would say hats off to Solanco. But I know our kids will be ready to play next Friday night. They are excited. They are ready to go on to that game and whatever happens, happens. I just know we’ll have a good week of preparation and come Friday night, we’ll play probably one of our biggest games in our school’s history. You got two 5-0 teams playing for at least an inside track to the section championship."
Back to this past Friday night where the Eagles were a bit sluggish in the early going, fumbling on the game’s second play deep in their own territory.
The Mules took over at the Cocalico 31, and moved all the way to the 10 before the drive stalled. Then, the Eagles dodged a bullet when Karson Beane’s 39-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
Cocalico took over and marched 80 yards in 12 plays for its first score. Moser carried five times on the drive, accounting for 54 of the yards, including his final six-yard burst into the endzone to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 3:44 to go in the first.
Matt Weinhold’s four-yard touchdown run early in the second put the Eagles up 14-0, then after the Eagle defense forced a punt, Janis took back his punt return for the score to give his team a 20-0 cushion.
Mitch Deering then picked off Solanco QB Noah McCardell on the Mules’ next possession, and the Eagles cashed in when Janis connected with a wide-open Shober with 58 seconds remaining to give Cocalico a commanding 27-0 half-time lead.
Janis scored his final TD of the night on his interception return with Solanco threatening. He picked it off at the Eagle 20, reversed field and went down the left side of the field for his scintillating return.
"Every time I get the ball in my hands I want to make something happen," Janis said. "I just ran until I couldn’t run anymore."
Weinhold later added his second four-yard TD run before back-up QB Dante Haines capped the scoring with a four-yard touchdown run with 38 seconds to go.
Defensively, Cocalico was outstanding, holding the Mules to just 50 yards on the ground (27 carries) and just 47 yards through the air, including a pair of picks.
Despite all of its success, Gingrich wasn’t totally pleased with his squad’s performance.
"I don’t think we were as focused as we needed to be, and it showed tonight in the beginning of the game," he said. "Solanco is a physical team, and you just can’t show up and beat them. Once we got into a little bit of a rhythm, we did some good things but I just wasn’t happy with our overall execution."
He did add that he’s confident his kids will turn that around and put their entire focus on the Barons this Friday night.
"I know our kids will be ready Friday night," he said. "I think they are excited. I know they will have a good week of preparation and whatever happens, will happen."
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