Eagles get off on right foot, stomp Daniel Boone

By on September 3, 2014
Cocalico quarterback Dante Haines reads the defensive end to decide whether to keep or to hand off to fullback Matt Weinhold (right).

Cocalico quarterback Dante Haines reads the defensive end to decide whether to keep or to hand off to fullback Matt Weinhold (right).

Cocalico opened a season of change with a familiar result as the Eagles defeated Daniel Boone 32-14 Friday night at home.

The Eagles finished 11-2 in 2013 with a talented and senior heavy team. The 2014 team looks to extend that success but will rely on many new faces in the starting lineup.

“I think we’re still trying to figure out our identity,” said Head Coach Dave Gingrich. “We’re not Cocalico of last year. We’re the Cocalico of 2014. We do things a little differently.”

How good the Eagles can be may take the season to be answered.

“There are question marks,” said the coach. “You lose 22 good seniors like we had last year. You can say Janis, you can say Moser, you can say Kerschner…They’re good players. This team (wants) to make a name for itself. It (doesn’t) want to rely on what’s happen in the past. We’re not close to being the team we want to be but we’re working towards it. They’re giving great effort. They’ve got a great attitude.”

That attitude was tested against the Blazers, a team they beat 49-14 in last year’s opener but the new kids got off the starting block quickly Friday.

Junior Dominic Fabiani took a pitch on the game’s first play scrimmage and turned the corner to head down the right sideline for 66 yards.

“I just saw daylight and (ran),” recalled Fabiani. (Quarterback Dante Haines) fakes the hand-off and options off the outside backer. He pitched it and I found daylight.”

Like nearly everyone in the stadium, Fabiani thought he would score on the play but Christopher Ford ran down Fabiani at the five-yard line.

“Number 4 is a fast guy,” he said.

Ford’s tackle stalled the Eagle scoring drive for two plays as Matt Weinhold scored from the four on second down. Following a two point conversion, the Eagles led 8-0.

On their next possession, the Eagles took less than three minutes to extend their lead. Haines completed a pass on third and four to Trevor Fichthorn and again on third and seven to keep possession. Fichthorn ran 23 yards for a touchdown two plays later to complete the drive.

Matthew McKinney added a field goal for an 18-0 lead in the first quarter.

The quick start proved important for several reasons. According to the Coach, it helped overcome a bad week of practice and show the Eagles what they can do.

“I think it was important,” Gingrich said. “We didn’t have a great week of practice. I don’t think our confidence was as good as it needed to be. You got to come out with a good start. I think that helped our confidence right away.”

The lead also helped the Eagles survive the Blazers’ rally that started in the second quarter and was aided by Eagle mistakes.

The Blazers’ first scoring drive started with 3:26 left in the first quarter and finished with a Solomon Ramsey rushing touchdown nine seconds into the second.

A Weinhold fumble on the following possession appeared to be a minor problem when the defense forced a three and out. Junior quarterback Haines hit Justin Marderness in stride down the middle of the field.

“It was a slant,” said Haines. “It’s a basic play where the receivers decide if they want to cut up (the field), they could. Read what you can see and we’ll take what we can. We saw the safety come up. They left the middle wide open.”

Ford prevented a touchdown again as he ran down Marderness at the ten yard line. This time, the save proved permanent. Ramsey put a solid shot on Fabiani to hold him to five yard gain on first down and Haines lost a fumble on the next play.

Daniel Boone did not score on their next possession but they closed the gap to 18-14 with Shayne Bookwalter touchdown reception with 1:21 left in the half.

“Football is a game of momentum,” said Gingrich. “We had it early. They had it in the second quarter. I thought we got it back a little bit in the second quarter but we kept giving the ball back.

“You never want a turnover to see what kind of character you have but I saw what kind of character we had when we did it. We could have sulked. We could have buried our head but we made big plays on defense after our offense put our defense in a bad situation.”

With Daniel Boone set to receive the second half kickoff, momentum appeared to have shifted but the defense stalled the Blazers’ offense until the Eagles’ resumed their momentum. They forced a punt from the Boone 19-yard line on the first possession and then Benjamin Kegerise intercepted QB Nicholas Hughes’ pass with 6:38 left in the third.

The Eagles took advantage of the opportunity. With Weinhold running five times, mostly up the middle, Haines hit Moses Ulysse for 40 yards and Fabiani for nine yards when the Blazers came up to stop the run. Weinhold’s fifth carry of the drive went for two yards and a touchdown with 2:29 left in the third.

Weinhold finished the game with 102 yards for the game.

“We definitely came out strong in the second half,” said Weinhold. “We really came together and played as a team.”

“Matt’s 155 pounds of solid desire,” said Gingrich. “He plays with heart and desire and he was upset with himself with the one fumble. He was upset (but) came back and played a great game.”

The third quarter ended and the fourth began with a series of fumbles by both teams. Later, Ulysse broke up a pass on third down and the team swarmed to stop Hughes two yards short on fourth and ten.

Given the ball with 10:12 to go, the Eagles used runs by Weinhold, Mitchell North and Hughes to score on Hughes’ three yard with 5:56 left in the game.

The Blazers tried to get anything going on the next possession but Ulysse and Fabiani broke up passes while the line pressured Hughes on each attempt. On fourth and four at Cocalico’s 42 yard, Travis Haley hit Hughes as he released his final pass and it fell incomplete.

The game was not pretty at some points but the game provided Gingrich and the Eagles with positive and negative working points for practice.

“I felt we were pretty disciplined,” he said. “We didn’t jump offsides; we didn’t get a holding call. We did some good things. Putting the ball on the ground is something you can’t do.”

Weinhold summed up the situation with, “We’re going to get stronger and coming together (by) busting it in practice every day. We’re going to grow as a team.”

 

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