McDevitt rolls over Cocalico in District finals

By on December 3, 2014
Cocalico finished on the wrong side of the scoreboard Friday night in the District Three finals at Hersheypark Stadium. Above, the team huddles together in the endzone following its 41-0 loss to Bishop McDevitt. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Cocalico finished on the wrong side of the scoreboard Friday night in the District Three finals at Hersheypark Stadium. Above, the team huddles together in the endzone following its 41-0 loss to Bishop McDevitt. (Photo by Preston Whitcraft)

Time and time again this year, Cocalico overcame adversity and certain setbacks (not to mention a slew of key injuries) to put together what turned out to be a storybook season.

Unfortunately, there were no happy endings Friday night in Hersheypark Stadium..

Facing Mid-Penn power Bishop McDevitt in the District Three AAA finals, Cocalico couldn’t dig deep enough to claw their way out this time against a much superior opponent in the Crusaders.

What worked against others, didn’t against McDevitt, which held Cocalico’s potent Veer attack to a season-low 115 yards on the ground and got a District Three AAA finals record five touchdown passes from QB Nick Marsilio as the Crusaders cruised to a 41-0 victory and their fifth-straight title.

Following the game, Eagle Coach Dave Gingrich just tipped his hat to the Crusaders, who the coach said had every answer to any question his team had.

“(Playing McDevitt) is like being on a boat, and trying to get the water out of the boat,” he said. “And each time you get a bucket of water out it just keeps filling up with more and more and more. They overwhelm you with how good they are. Hats off to their coaching staff and kids because they deserve to be the champs. They are the best team we played this year by far.”

McDevitt (14-0) advanced to this weekend’s State semifinals opposite fellow unbeaten Central Valley (14-0) which will be played Friday (7 p.m.) in Altoona. The Crusaders will be seeking their second-straight trip to the State finals, but Coach Jeff Weachter said it was still special to win another District crown.

“Listen, only one other team has (won five straight District titles) so we take a lot of pride in it,” he said following the win. “This is our first goal to get to where we want to be.”

Meanwhile, Cocalico (10-4) closed out one of its most impressive runs, considering all of the adversity, in program history.

That fact was not lost on Gingrich in the postgame.

“I don’t care whether the score was 10-0 or 40-0, with this group to be in the District finals speaks volumes for the kids they are, their work ethic…they are just tough kids,” he said. “We are not as good as (McDevitt). They proved that, but that doesn’t take away from what these kids have done all year. I’m very proud of them.”

His team, which replaced 22 seniors from a year ago, lost its quarterback and fullback along the way, suffered a 42-0 mid-season drubbing at the hands of L-S and still persevered and made its way to the title game speaks volumes of its character.

“They could have very easily gone in different direction, but the direction that they chose to go in was one of hard work, brotherhood, picking each other up, and they re-focused after that loss to L-S and I thought we played some of our best football,” he said.

Friday night though, they had no answers against McDevitt.

The Crusaders took the opening kickoff and drove from their own 30 into Cocalico territory but faced a third-and-10 after a rare incompletion by Marsilio and a carry by Penn State recruit Andre Robinson that went for no gain. But on third down, Marsilio hit a streaking Chad Cortez down the seam for a 30-yard score and an early 7-0 lead.

After McDevitt forced the first of four-straight three-and-outs by the Cocalico offense, the Eagle defense came up with a big play when Devon Delpiano picked off a Marsilio pass in the endzone. However, on the Crusaders’ next possession, Marsilio cashed in when he scrambled and hit Bryce Hall on a fourth down play that went for 12 yards and a score to up the advantage to 13-0.

McDevitt, which scored on four of its first five possessions, upped the lead to 20-0 midway through the second quarter when Kobay White hauled in an eight-yard TD pass on another fourth-down play. The Crusaders then closed out the half with a 35-yard strike from Marsilio to Kyree Calli with 4:01 to go to take a commanding 27-0 lead into the locker room.

Marsilio completed 15 of 21 passes for 240 yards and the five scores. According to Weachter, the Cocalico defense tried to take away Robinson, who rushed for 124 yards on 22 carries, so that left a lot of room for his wide receivers on the outside.

“Cocalico did a good job, and was aggressive with what they were doing,” he said. “They were doing some blitzing but were playing eight and nine-man fronts. We don’t panic. If you are going to do all of that you are leaving your secondary out to hang, and as you saw we have five or six real good receivers.”

Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the McDevitt defense held the Eagles to 45 total yards in the first half.

“I don’t know if it was scheme as much as their Jimmys were bigger and better than our Joes tonight,” Gingrich said. “I thought we had a good gameplan and I thought we had some good ideas of things that we could do offensively but they just get off of blocks real quick and they get to the football. And usually when they get to the football they are not in a good frame of mind. They tackle so very well. Where we could get through an arm tackle here and there prior to this game, once they got a hold of you, there wasn’t a lot you were going to do.”

And, unfortunately for Cocalico, things didn’t change much in the second half.

Cocalico fumbled away its first possession of the second half and McDevitt made the Eagles pay. Taking over at the Eagle 40, Marsilio hit Calli on a 37-yard touchdown pass with 7:26 left in the third to make it 34-0 and take away any Eagle hope of a comeback.

Robinson, who was somewhat held in check by the Cocalico defense, then scored the final touchdown of the night with 6:06 to go on a two-yard plunge.

“They got athletes all over the field,” Gingrich said when asked about trying to top the Crusader offense. “Upfront, they are big, strong, fast and athletic. On the perimeter, they got some great wideouts and their quarterback puts it on the money. I thought we did do some good things. I thought we bottled up Robinson early on, but like I said before, you hold him, hold him, hold him, and then he goes for 30 or 40. I don’t know how often he did that tonight but they really hurt us with the pass game. We just had no answers for that.”

Despite the loss, Gingrich reiterated how much of an accomplishment it was for his team to win playoff games over East Pennsboro, West York and Daniel Boone to reach Hershey.

He thanks the seniors for the journey.

“I don’t like to classify teams in terms of level of heart. I think all of our kids play with a lot of heart,” he said. “But this team, they overachieved in my book. they gave everything they had. I told the seniors, we can’t ever repay the influence they had on the community and our school. We can’t repay what they’ve done. They truly gave us everything they had.”

GAME NOTES: Cocalico fullback Hunter High left the game with an apparent injury early in the third quarter and did not return. He finished with 23 yards on 10 carries. His replacement, freshman Brandon Brubaker, led the Eagles with 50 yards on six carries.

Cocalico sophomore QB Brady Sawyer rushed for 30 yards on eight runs. Through the air, he completed one of his six attempts for six yards.

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