Eagles face biggest challenge to date in Cedar Cliff

By on September 16, 2015
Cedar Cliff QB Grant Breneman

Cedar Cliff QB Grant Breneman

A year ago, Cocalico and Cedar Cliff got together on a Thursday night on the West Shore. And what happened that night on the West Shore between these two District Three powers ended up being a springboard to both of their respective seasons.

For Cocalico, the Eagles proved to themselves they could go toe-to-toe with one of the top Quad-A programs around. That belief gained that night helped fuel a season that ended with another trip to the District Three AAA title game.

As for Cedar Cliff, then-sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman used that game as his coming out party, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns while engineering a last-second drive to nip the Eagles, 28-27. Breneman went on to lead the Colts to an 8-3 record and a District berth.

Flash forward to this year, Cocalico opened the season, losing a 7-0 contest at Daniel Boone before evening its mark to 1-1 this past week in convincing style with a 56-6 romp over arch-rival Ephrata.

Hunter High leads Cocalico’s rushing game with 193 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries for the year. Quarterback Brady Sawyer doesn’t go to the air much, but when he has he’s been near perfect, completing 6-of-8 passes for 82 yards.

Trevor Fichtorn (19 tackles) and Moses Ulysse (17 tackles) lead a stingy Eagle defense that has allowed just 13 points on the year.

As for the Colts, they have been quite impressive in a pair of wins over Penn Manor (54-20) and South Western (42-14) to open the season.

The Colts offensively have featured a balanced attack with Breneman throwing for 425 yards and four touchdowns while Jayden Demmy has run for 307 yards in two games.

This week, the Colts and Eagles meet Friday in Denver. This one figures to be another good one.

This past week, Cedar Cliff Coach Colin Gillen and Cocalico’s Dave Gingrich chatted with Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth on the pending match-up:

Todd Ruth: After a Week One loss your team responded with an impressive performance in your win vs. Ephrata. How much confidence can your team take from that game moving forward?

Dave Gingrich: I think our guys played a pretty solid game…not without mistakes, but some good improvement over Week One.

TR: Coach Gillen, you guys are coming off a pair of impressive wins over Penn Manor and South Western. What has been the key to your success the first two weeks?

Colin Gillen: Offensively we have been able to remain balanced with the run and pass. Our QB Grant Breneman has been very efficient in the passing game and we have been able to run the ball effectively with our tailback Jayden Demmy. The defense has been solid in both games by limiting our opponents ability to run the ball.

TR: Last year’s game with Cocalico was one of the best games of the year. Did winning that game the way you did help your team moving forward?

CG: Last year’s win gave us a lot of momentum heading into division play. We were very fortunate to come out on top. Cocalico really out-played us in most phases of the game but we were able to get enough explosive plays to come out on top.

TR: Looking at this week, what are your impressions of Cocalico heading into Friday’s match-up?

CG: Cocalico is extremely well coached on both sides of the ball. Their discipline in the option attack on offense is remarkable. They have very solid and aggressive offensive and defensive lines as well as some explosive players at the skill positions.

TR: Coach Gingrich, what are your initial thoughts on matching-up with Cedar Cliff?

DG: Wow…a complete team! Offensively, they have it all…size, speed, and skill, and they have at least three D-1 kids on that side of the ball. Defensively, they are a very aggressive team. They fly to the football and tackle extremely well. They just have no weaknesses!

TR: They obviously got some great skill people, led by Breneman. What are your biggest concerns with them and what they do?

DG: They can score from anywhere. Their balance and overall athleticism is my biggest concern. Last year, we did a nice job against the run and the vertical pass game, but they killed us with their screen game.

TR: Coach Gillen, what are your biggest concerns regarding Cocalico?

CG: Stopping the run and playing discipline defense with our option responsibilities.

TR: And what do you feel are the keys for your team to come out on top?

CG: We must establish the running game and limit their rushing attack.

TR: Coach Gingrich, a year ago, this game kind of springboarded you a little bit. Do you see this game as a similar test that can do that if you play well?

DG: We are looking at this game as a test of where we stand as a team. Our entire focus will be on our preparation and improving over last week. We don’t have an area where we feel like we are where we need to be.

TR: What are the keys to having success and coming out with a win Friday?

DG: Take care of the football and avoid giving up the big play. They are going to move the football, but we have to tackle well and rally to the football. Offensively, we need to be patient and disciplined. We must be true to our identity.

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