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Eagles get defensive in 34-0 win over Reading
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor email@example.com, Staff Writer
Often times, Cocalico’s defense takes a back seat to the Eagle offense.
It’s not intentional. It’s just a testament to how good the Eagles’ offense has been over the years.
But this past Friday at Albright College, the Eagles’ defense sent a big message to how good it can be. While at times they bent against a very athletic Reading High team, they certainly didn’t break.
Cocalico forced seven turnovers and kept the Red Knights from getting into the end zone, keying a convincing 34-0 non-league victory in the first meeting ever between the two schools.
Sure, the offense did it’s part as fullback Nick Reitenbach powered his way to 143 yards and three scores on 18 carries.
But this was clearly about the defense on this night.
"Their kids play hard, but our defense came ready to play," Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. "I’m so proud of our defensive staff and our kids and what they’ve done. If they can stay focused, we are going to have a pretty good defense."
The focus on this night was stopping Reading’s talented sophomore quarterback Sterling Young-Trapp. And while Young-Trapp did get loose a few times, rushing for 78 yards on 18 totes, for the most part the Eagles held him in check. They also picked him off three times.
"A few years ago we faced Ben Dupree from Susquehanna Township," Gingrich said. "I’m not going to say this kid is Ben Dupree, but he’s very athletic and made us look silly a couple times. But they had to work for everything. They just didn’t break containment and go. They were back and forth and back and forth, and I felt we did a good job coverage-wise. We caused some turnovers, and made them work for everything they got."
The Cocalico defense set the tone for this night in the early moments, forcing a quick three-and-out on Reading’s first possession. The Eagles then took over and methodically marched down the field in a 10-play, 53 yard drive that was culminated by a 12-yard touchdown off right tackle by Reitenbach with 4:27.
While a full dose of Reitenbach slowly moved the ball up the field on their first drive, the Eagle senior made quick work on the Eagles’ next series when the 5-10, 175-pounder broke a 48 yard run to open up the lead to 14-0.
"Nick’s tough," Gingrich said of his senior fullback. "He’s not the biggest fullback that we’ve ever had, and he’s not probably the fastest or the shiftiest, but Nick is a good combination of every one of those things. He has good quickness, good toughness and he runs pretty low. Nick’s done a pretty good job for us this year."
Reading closed out the half with four big miscues that thwarted drives and kept the Red Knights off the board. A fumble by Young-Trapp at midfield stopped the first drive. Then Reading ended the half with interceptions by Cocalico’s Zach Rissler and Jhett Janis, and a fumble recovery by Justin Abraham all deep in Eagle territory.
A nice knock down on a fourth down play by Cocalico defensive back Frankie Padilla gave the Eagles the ball at the Reading 45 midway through the third period. Two plays later, running back Spencer Moser went around left end for a 35-yard touchdown to up the Cocalico lead to 21-0.
Reitenbach scored his third touchdown of the night on a one-yard run midway through the fourth. And after a lightning delay that lasted 36 minutes, Cocalico put the finishing touches on this one as Janis took it in from one yard out with 4:14 to go on a score that was set up by Reading’s seventh and final turnover.
While the Cocalico offense wasn’t great on this night, it was efficient enough to finish with 290 yards (all on the ground) on 47 carries.
"We had some mistakes….we struggled a little bit offensively," Gingrich said. "But (when) you play a team as athletic as they are they make you do some things. We’d do some good things but then they’d stunt and cause some havoc…We just didn’t execute at times."
Cocalico will look to go perfect through the pre-season this Friday night at home when the Eagles host another tough Berks County foe in Governor Mifflin (0-2).
Prior to the start of the season, Gingrich said how his team performed in its three non-league games would go a long way into defining how much success they could ultimately enjoy this year.
So far, they are two-for-two.
"I said we could be 0-3, and at this time we could be 0-2, and we are 2-0," Gingrich said Friday. "We’ve won every game in front of us. We are going to have a big test with Mifflin and we have a lot to improve on. But the heart of the kids is not something we have to improve on. They come ready to play. They come ready to practice. They have great passion for one another. They care about each other and they don’t want to disappoint one another or the coaches. And I think they’ll play a great game next week." More EAGLES, page B-4