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Passing the Bucks
A lot has happened since the last time CV and Ephrata met on the football field.
Not only did both teams have new turf surfaces installed on their respective home fields, but both moved out of Section Two where both squads played for a number of years. CV, which defeated Ephrata in a tight 17-13 decision at War Memorial last October, moved up to Section One while Ephrata slid down to Section Three for at least the next two seasons.
Both are coming off disappointing 2013 campaigns. CV, despite its victory over Ephrata, won just one more game the entire season en route to a 2-8 year while the Mounts suffered through just their seventh winless year since the 1930s, going 0-10 overall.
Each team enters 2014 with a lot to prove, and couldn’t be more fitting sparring partners for each other in Week One.
Ephrata Coach Scott Shelley and CV Coach Mark Pieters talked recently with Review sports editor Todd Ruth about the pending match-up:
Todd Ruth: What are your expectations for Friday night?
Mark Pieters: It was a nail-biter last year. Both teams played hard and we came out on top (17-13), but it was a tough one. We went all the way down to the end, we got a big turnover late in the game. In the opener, you never know what can happen in high school football. We’re trying to just prepare like it’s a State championship game.
Scott Shelley: We are just going to try to do the best we can on Friday. The kids have been working hard and it’s the first step on a long road. That’s the way I look at it. We had a very good offensive scrimmage against Palmyra, and we had a good defensive scrimmage against Elco…now we got to put it all together. Right now we are worrying about us. That’s the key. I know CV has their quarterback (Grant Stoltzfus) back and receivers and things like that but we got to play our game and do the best we can, and that’s what we’re looking to do.
TR: What are your biggest concerns about your opponent heading into the game?
MP: We didn’t get very good film. One was on a practice field (at Elco) and one was on their middle school field, I guess, so the film was tough to get all the alignments. I was able to see some of their scrimmage the other night and it looks like they try to go to a no-back, Wing-T type offense, which looked pretty good to me &tstr; I’m a Wing-T guy. I’m sure they held a lot of stuff back, but their Buck sweep looked real good and it looks like they went to a 4-3 defense and it was tough to tell if they were playing straight man-to-man or if they were playing quarters and halves. That’s an offense and defense that I like, it’s versatile and can present a lot of problems. It’s just a fear of the unknown at this point.
I know they lost a lot of kids, so they don’t have a lot of returning starters. I know more numbers at this point than I know names. There were a couple runners that looked pretty good Thursday night against Palmyra. Like I said, I don’t know their names, I know their numbers, it’s in our scouting report for our kids that we’ll go over (Monday) with them. But they ran the Buck sweep nice, they had a nice pass out in the flat. They seem to move the ball. They had a penalty in the red zone which prevented them from scoring a touchdown when I was there. I like what they’re doing. We didn’t look very good on Friday night against Governor Mifflin.
SS: We know what CV likes to do. Their defense is outstanding this year from what I’ve seen. That’s going to be a very good determining factor for us whether or not we can execute against them. They have two receivers coming back, plus their quarterback is in his second year, and he has a lot of work in with (Lancaster Catholic Assistant and quarterback guru Jim) Cantafio. He’s been hitting his receivers so it will be a good test for us. It will give us an idea where we are at and how far we have to go.
TR: What do you feel you have to do to come out on top Friday night?
MP: We’ve got to execute on offense. We weren’t able to do that at all. We weren’t able to get a first down. Our first scrimmage was against Garden Spot and we were able to move the ball a little bit better. And defensively, we didn’t read our keys, we didn’t do the little things right. So it was a process to get our base offense and defense taught, and I think Friday night, we took a step back in both phases of the game. So we’ve got to come ready to play and we have to execute what we’ve been trying to do all pre-season.
SS: We need to hold onto the ball. We had a 17-play, 70-yard drive against Palmyra…That’s what we need to do. But we just need to get better at everything we do. We are young but the kids and coaches are working hard at it. It’s back to the old brick-by-brick, and that’s what we are trying to instill in the guys, and they are not backing off.
TR: Even though it’s non-league, how important is it to come away with a win?
MP: It’s huge for us. We’re in our new stadium, it’s the first game on the turf and we’ve got a new press box, we’ve got new stands, we’ve got new everything. So there will be a lot of people there. They’re going to expect us to look good when we play, so there’s a lot of pressure on everybody and I think we’re all feeling it just because of the extra-curricular type things that are happening at our facility. We started with five-straight losses last year. We took it on the chin right out of the gate last year and we really, really, really need to come out and get a win this year. It’s the key to our whole season, I think. It’s huge. I mean, it’s huge on all different aspects for us.
SS: It would be a gigantic confidence booster for us…there is no doubt about that. I mean that would be wonderful but whatever happens, happens as long as we are playing hard. As long as we are hustling and hitting and trying our best to execute…there are a lot of things that are crazier that have happened. And we’ll see what happens. We are doing everything we can preparing our kids to win. We’d love to be able to knock them off and build on that….we’ll see what happens.