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Mounts mash Solanco Set to battle Cocalico for Review Cup
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
It took nine long weeks but the Ephrata football team finally put together its best four quarters of football all season Friday night at Solanco.
Offensively, the Mounts moved the ball up and down the field, rolling up more than 350 yards in total offense. And defensively, Ephrata was stingy all night, holding the Mules to just 83 yards on the ground and 88 through the air while tossing goose eggs for four quarters.
In the end, it added up to a very impressive 35-0 shutout victory over the Mules.
"The idea was we wanted the kids to start believing in themselves and getting them to understand it takes hard work, discipline, emotion and intensity for you to win," first-year Coach Scott Shelley said. "We’ve been working on that and it basically took nine weeks because of their inexperience. But they’re getting the idea, and it’s a credit to them. Our kids have come so far."
The Mounts (2-4 Section Two, 2-7 overall) controlled the line of scrimmage on this night, rushing for 216 yards on 45 totes. Junior running back Blake Weaver led the way, rushing for 143 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. Weaver also hauled in three passes for 85 yards and two scores.
But it was the running attack behind an impressive line that made everything possible.
"That’s the way the veer is supposed to be run," Shelley said. "The line took charge, the backs ran hard and that’s what we wanted. For us to come out the way they did tonight was a real big step for them. I’m really proud of them."
Scott Liebl, who ran for an additional 44 yards and a score on 11 carries, and led the Mounts defensively with nine tackles, said everyone executed their respective assignments.
"I have to give credit to the linemen because without them none of that would have happened," he said. "Blake and I both ran the ball well but nothing would have happened without the line and (quarterback Bobby Nye) making reads and the wide receivers making their blocks too. It was a team effort."
After a scoreless first quarter, the Mounts got on the board early in the second after a 32-yard punt return from Jeremy Kachel sent them up at the Solanco 33. Two plays later, Weaver burst off left tackle for a 29-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead.
Solanco (1-5, 1-8) then drove to the Ephrata 27 on its ensuing drive, but Weaver made a huge interception of a Mule QB Caleb Groff to thwart that threat. Then on Ephrata first play following the INT, quarterback Bobby Nye (3-4-0, 73 yards, 2 TDs) found Weaver down the left sideline for a 56-yard touchdown pass to give the Mounts a 14-0 advantage heading to the half.
"We just went through practice knowing that we definitely had to play better than last week," Liebl said, referring to lopsided losses to E-town and CV the previous two weeks. "That was a definite, so we worked hard and we knew (losing like that) was never going to happen again."
"This game was big because of the way we played against E-town and CV," he said. "For them to come out and play the way they did tonight is a big stepping stone. It’s great to see the smiles on their faces. I’m proud of the kids."
After forcing a three-and-out on Solanco’s first possession of the second half, the Mounts leaned on the veer to produce a 67-yard, time-consuming 13-play drive that resulted in their third TD of the night. This time, Liebl plunged in from one-yard out to make it 21-0 with just 2:47 to go in the third.
"We’re a veer offense team and we have got to be able to block and drive people," Shelley said. "It’s taken them some time to get it, but this is a big step for us tonight."
A Kachel interception on the Mules’ next possession led to another Ephrata score. This time, the Mounts dug into their bag of tricks as wideout Justin Mease took a hand-off on a reverse to the right, and threw back to the left side to a wide open Weaver who went in for a 28-yard scoring play.
Ephrata then added one late score when Nye passed for his second TD of the game, hitting tight end Max Schrom on a nine-yard pass with 5:00 to go.
"It’s a great feeling getting the shutout and even the win too," Liebl said. "We worked hard all week and this was what we get for it."
The Mounts will look to make it two in-a-row this Friday in the regular season finale at home with a tough matchup vs. Cocalico. The Ephrata Review Cup will be on the line as the Eagles, who clinched at least a share of the Section Two title with a 42-14 win over E-town Friday night, will look to claim the Cup for the second-straight year.
It will also mark the first time Shelley and assistant Phil Kauffman, both long-time coaches at Cocalico, will face the Eagles.
Shelley said he’s looking forward to seeing his team lineup against the Eagles to see just how far they’ve come.
"I’m excited to play the game, not for any more reasons," Shelley said. "It’s going to be a good game. There’s no way in this green earth that we match up with them. What (the game) has got to be for us is a measuring rod. Have we come far enough to challenge them?"
Liebl, whose block of a kick two years ago sealed a shocking 21-20 Ephrata win over Cocalico, said he believes he and his teammates are up for the tremendous challenge.
"It’s going to be pretty neat," he said. "I’ve played in the last three (against Cocalico) and it’s always been a good game. We’ll just see what happens."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. More MOUNTS, page B-4