Opening statement Eagles roll past West Perry in opening round
By: TODD RUTH Review Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org, Staff Writer
West Perry came into Friday night’s District Three opener at Cocalico with one of the top offenses in the Mid-Penn League. Led by dual threat quarterback Zach Smith, the Mustangs entered Friday’s game in Denver on a six-game winning streak.
None of that seemed to matter to Cocalico, which came in full of confidence and left with much more.
The Eagle defense gave up very little, holding West Perry to just five first downs and Smith to just 105 yards on a tough 8-for-19 night. Offensively, the Eagles rolled up more than 400 yards in total offense, led by senior fullback Nick Reitenbach, who exploded for 222 yards and four touchdowns on 25 carries.
It all added up to a very impressive 37-0 shutout victory by the Eagles (10-1), who will now advance to Friday’s quarterfinals to face fourth-seeded Lancaster Catholic– a 32-14 winner over Hershey– at 7 p.m. at Rossmere Stadium in Lancaster.
"I was proud with our kids’ efforts and their execution tonight," Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. "The kids are playing well. Like I said we are proud of them and (this win) gives us another week together. Hopefully we can improve next week. We’ll go down (to Lancaster Catholic) and give them our best shot."
The victory was somewhat tempered, however, due to the fact that two Cocalico players– sophomore Douglas Quinn and freshman Tucker Lescoe– left the field by ambulance.
Quinn appeared to suffer a leg injury while Lescoe’s looked to be head related.
"Injuries are a part of the game and unfortunately they happened a couple times to us tonight," Gingrich said. "We just pray for those kids that they are going to recover and be OK."
Behind a front that was dominating the line of scrimmage, Cocalico scored on all five of its first-half possessions Friday to open up a big 30-0 half-time lead.
Wyatt Dungan opened the scoring after nailing a 22-yard field goal to cap a 10-play drive on the Eagles’ first possession with 5:13 to go in the first.
The Cocalico defense then set up the next score as Jhett Janis stepped in front of a Smith pass at the Eagles’ 47-yard line. On play later, Reitenbach went off right tackle and broke free down the right sideline for a 53-yard score to put his team up 10-0.
Reitenbach would go on to add his second score with 54 seconds to go in the first on an eight-yard run.
"The line played tough," Reitenbach said. "They were moving people, made blocks on the linebackers and got downfield…They played great and really opened it up."
After West Perry’s third three-and-out in four possessions, Cocalico went 80 yards in nine plays to grad a 23-0 lead. Spencer Moser (4-52), who would leave with an upper body injury late in the second and not return, put the Eagles in position with a 36-yard run on a key third down play. Six plays later, Reitenbach bowled over from one yard out and the Eagles were in business.
Cocalico did score one more TD in the quarter, after the Eagle defense thwarting West Perry (8-3) on a fourth-and-six attempt at the 47. Cocalico went the full 47 yards in 12 methodical plays as Janis capped it off with a one-yard run with 10 seconds left in the half.
"We just took what they were giving us," Gingrich said of his team’s near-flawless offensive execution. "The line blocked well and really got off the ball, our quarterbacks read well and the running backs ran hard."
In the third, West Perry finally advanced into Eagle territory and nearly scored when Smith hit wideout Chase May down the sidelines. However, Janis ran down the receiver at the Eagle three, and the Cocalico defense added the finishing touches to this one with a goal-line stand to preserve the shutout.
"Our defense took care of what they needed to do," Reitenbach said. "They took care of the passing game, and the shutout was awesome. That means a lot, especially in the playoffs because all of these teams are good."
Reitenbach closed out the scoring after the goal-line stand, breaking off his second 53-yard touchdown run of the game.
"I thought we played pretty well," Gingrich said. "The kids keep getting better week to week. They care and they work hard and they care about one another. I’m very proud of them." More STATEMENT, page B-5