Eagles hope to get off to flying start

By on August 31, 2016
Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich

Face difficult home test vs. Red Land

A year after missing the post-season for only the second time in nine seasons, Cocalico gets its first shot at redemption Friday night when Red Land visits Denver at 7 p.m. in the Eagles’ season opener.

A week ago, this looked like an even game on paper, but that was before Red Land, 3-7 a year ago, shocked the world Friday night with a mammoth 17-6 upset victory over six-time District champion Bishop McDevitt.

Now, Cocalico and Coach Dave Gingrich know they are in for a huge test in Week One.

The Patriots pulled off the stunner, thanks to a punishing run game and a stingy defense that allowed just 73 rushing yards and seven first downs while holding McDevitt’s All-State QB Tayvon Bowers to an ordinary 9-for-19 for 95 yards passing performance that included an interception.

Offensively, running back Justin Johnson was the story for Red Land, which competes in the Mid-Penn Keystone Division. The senior workhorse carried the ball 38 times for a whopping 190 yards and a touchdown in the win.

Cocalico, meanwhile, opens the season with a bit of a chip on its shoulder following last year’s 5-5 campaign. The Eagles return several key performers on both sides of the ball and are expected to be in the thick of things in a loaded Section Two this season.

Offensively, Cocalico returns its entire starting offensive line from a year ago, anchored by Section Two Lineman of the Year Brady Maxwell. That should bode well for their option attack, which will feature senior QB Brady Sawyer and senior fullback Brandon Brubaker, to name a few.

Defensively, Cocalico’s linebacking unit returns eight different players who stared there in 2015.

Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich and Red Land Head Man Chad Weaver replied recently to the following questions from Review Sports Editor Todd Ruth about the pending match-up:

Todd Ruth: What are your thoughts on where you are as a team heading into Friday’s season opener?

Dave Gingrich: We have had constant improvement over the past three weeks. The intensity at practice has been there, but our attention to detail has been inconsistent.

TR: Your Week One opponent is Red Land, which shocked the world Friday night with a win over McDevitt. What are your initial thoughts on the Patriots and what they did?

DG: I am not surprised of the outcome of Friday night’s game. In watching film from their scrimmage with Manheim Central, I came away thoroughly impressed…very athletic, big, and physical. They played very well on Friday to beat the six-time district champs.

TR: Coach Weaver, to be able to beat McDevitt as you did Friday, how much of a boost does that give you heading into Week Two?

Chad Weaver: After a rough 3-7 season last year, I think the victory Friday night gave kids the confidence that they have made some huge strides in the off-season. I also believe they now know what it takes to win a game and how important the preparation process is.

TR: What did you guys do well in that game against McDevitt?

CW: It was a complete team effort. Defensively we did a great job of flying to the football and getting pressure on the quarterback on throwing downs. Offensively, we found out that we have matured up front and got some great push on an above average defensive line. We also had many players step up and make plays in big situations.

TR: Coach Gingrich, what concerns you most about Red Land?

DG: My staff and I are still trying to find a weakness…their running back (Justin Johnson) carried the ball 41 times on Friday…we can’t let that happen this week.

TR: From your team’s standpoint, what do you feel will be the keys to beating them?

DG: Limit the number of their big plays; control the ball; and win the special teams.

TR: Coach Weaver, looking at Cocalico, which has a nice program in its own right, any concerns on a letdown this week following such an emotional win last week?

CW: There is always the concern about a let down after a huge win like Friday night. We need to realize that the McDevitt game is in the past and we have nine more opportunities to display our talents at the highest level possible.

TR: What are you biggest concerns regarding Cocalico?

CW: Stopping the option game is the number one concern by far. We rarely see teams that run the option, and Cocalico runs it very well. We need to play assignment football on the defensive side or we will be in for a long night.

TR: What do you feel your team needs to do to beat Cocalico Friday?

CW: We need to bring the same energy level and focus that we had this past week. Defensively we must prepare and execute our game plan on each snap. Offensively, we need to continue to get a push up front and be able to spread the ball around more than in our first game.

TR: Coach Gingrich, what would it mean for your team’s confidence to knock off Red Land in Friday’s opener?

DG: We are just looking to improve over last week’s scrimmage (vs. Warwick). (Red Land) is a fantastic team, but I know our boys are up for the challenge.

About digital editor

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *