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Eagles flex their muscles, win third-straight Review Cup
TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
In 24 minutes of action Friday, Ephrata got a full glimpse of how explosive Cocalico can be.
The Eagles, out to win their third-straight Ephrata Review Cup and clinch a 9-1 regular season, did so in impressive fashion. Cocalico scored on its first, five offensive possessions, and added a pair of "pick-sixes" in the first half to take a commanding 48-0 lead into the break. The Eagles took their foot off the gas after that, resting most of their starters the rest of the way en route to a convincing 48-7 victory over the Mounts.
"It feels good," Cocalico quarterback Jhett Janis said of his team capturing the Review Cup, which goes out to the winner of this annual contest. "I think we definitely worked hard for it. We didn’t come in and take Ephrata lightly. We came out and played our best football, and when you do that good things happen."
The win was the Eagles’ third-straight in this series and ninth in their last 10 games vs. Ephrata. The Mounts’ lone win in the last decade came in 2010 when they shocked playoff-bound Cocalico, 21-20 in a game played at War Memorial Field.
Any thoughts of an Ephrata upset this time quickly vanished early as the Eagles jumped out to a 27-0 first-quarter lead.
The Mounts, who finished the season winless at 0-10, actually had it going early as quarterback Bobby Nye ran for a 12-yard gain on his team’s initial play. However, on third down from his own 33, Nye’s pass was deflected and the Eagles’ Mitch Deering scooped it out of midair and raced 40 yards for the Cocalico score. Danny Graybill added the PAT and the Eagles led 7-0.
After Ephrata went three-and-out on its next possession, Cocalico took over at the Mounts’ 39-yard line and went to work. After a fourth-down pass play to Spencer Moser went for 21 yards and a first down to keep the drive alive, Moser went five yards around left end four plays later to put his team up 13-0.
The Eagles D kept the Mounts hemmed deep in their own territory on their next possession, and following an Ephrata punt, Cocalico needed just one play to make it 20-0. With a first-and-10 at the Mountaineer 32, Moser (7 carries, 45 yards) went 32 yards down the right sidelines for six.
Then, just before the end of the period, sophomore Tucker Lescoe stepped in front of a Gyree Durante pass and took it 25 yards to the house to make it 27-0 Cocalico.
The Eagles added three more touchdowns in the second quarter take their 48-0 lead into the half. After Janis’s interception set up Cocalico at the Ephrata 26 early in the quarter, Brad Whittaker broke off a 25 yard touchdown run to make it 34-0. Janis (4 carries, 67 yards) later added a 59-yard touchdown run before reserve running back Devon Delpiano took one in from 15 yards out with 6:17 to play in the half to close out the Eagles’ scoring.
"I thought we played a real good first half," Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. "I thought we did a lot of real good things."
In the second half, Ephrata had a few good chances to score and finally cashed in early in the fourth after a Cocalico fumble gave the Mounts the ball at the Eagle three-yard line. From there, Koty Keefer, who led the Mounts with 89 yards on 16 carries, bowled in from three yards out to get his team on the board. Keagan Remp added the PAT to close out the scoring.
For Ephrata, Friday was a tough way to finish off an even tougher year, one in which they came into the season short on numbers and then lost arguably their two best players (Blake Weaver and Jeremy Kachel) before the second week.
The Mounts dressed just 25 players in Friday’s season-ending contest.
"We have been just devastated with injuries and the like, and the kids that we were putting in there have given everything they can, but they are just inexperienced," Ephrata Coach Scott Shelley said. "And it’s nothing against them. We are going up against kids that have been playing three years…People do not realize the lack of experience we had this year and what we had to do game after game. It was smoke and mirrors. We did not have the experience that was necessary to compete."
"It bothers me that we are 0-10," he continued. "Not because of me but what the kids weren’t able to feel and accomplish. I’d love for kids like Koty Keefer, who give it everything they have, to understand what it feels like to be rewarded with a win. I feel bad for them. I wanted them to be successful, but nothing seemed to fall into place. It’s not their fault. There were just so many factors that it wasn’t really anybody’s fault. It just the way things fell for us this year."
As for the Eagles, things have been going just fine for them after a mid-season loss to Manheim Central.
"We’ve won every game since that one so I would say we have recovered," Gingrich said. "We have some things that we need to fix. And until we watch the film, I don’t know if we fixed them totally. I thought the effort was there tonight. The kids had a much better week of practice. We prepared very well, and like I said I thought we did a lot of good things."
Up next, Cocalico will open the District Three AAA playoffs this Friday night when the Eagles host Gettysburg (6-4), beginning at 7 p.m. (see adjacent story).
The Eagles certainly are no stranger to the post-season, which should help them as they get set to lineup Friday night.
"These kids have played in playoff games before," Gingrich said. "I’m looking forward to the next several weeks, however long it goes. We’ll remind the kids that it’s one week. That is the only thing guaranteed. Friday night could be the last game or we’ll move on and have another game. I think our kids will prepare very well and will be ready to play. I know for sure, we’ve had seven Mercy Rule games out of 10, so I think our starters want to play football. I think they’ll be ready to go."
Janis said the players have the right approach going in.
"We have the ability to go far, but it’s not just going to happen. We have to work for it," he said.
More CUP, page B-4