Eagles thump Cedars in Section Two opener

By on September 30, 2015


Cocalico’s Abdul Saad (68) lays the wood on Lebanon QB Cody Rissinger during Friday’s Section Two contest. (Photo by Scott Krall)

Cocalico’s Abdul Saad (68) lays the wood on Lebanon QB Cody Rissinger during Friday’s Section Two contest. (Photo by Scott Krall)

Coach Dave Gingrich walked off the field following Cocalico’s 50-6 win over Lebanon Friday in the Section Two opener and listed the things that the Eagles needed to improve.

“I don’t think we’re at the stage in our season where I’m confident,” said Gingrich. “I think we have the ability to be good but there are break downs. We’ve got to shore up some of our coverages. We’re not playing assignment football right now. Our kids aren’t doing what they’re coached to do and that’s got to be fixed.”

Call it the state of divine dissatisfaction. Most coaches know it. Where most see a work of art, the craftsmen see the flaws and pledges to get better.

“We’re just not playing at the speed we need to play to be a great team,” he said. “I’m not looking for us to be a good team. I’m looking for us to be the best possible team we can be. In order to be the best possible team you can be, you’ve got to play quicker, you gotta play faster (and) you’ve got to play with more emotion. We didn’t tonight. We will, but we didn’t tonight.”

The offensive statistics look like a thing of beauty. Three players ran for more than 100 yards, led by Trevor Fichthorn with 152 and a touchdown. DJ Fabiani ran for 124 yards and three touchdowns while Hunter High picked up 110 yards and scored twice.

Despite his and the team’s success, Fabiani echoed his coach and saw ways to improve.

“We’re still coming out dead a little bit in the first half. We’ve got to pick that up,” he said.

Lebanon received the opening kickoff and put together a good drive. They moved from their own 25 to the Eagles’ 18 in 11 plays but failed to convert on fourth-and-one on QB Cody Kissinger’s incompletion.

Given the ball deep in their own territory, the Eagles proceeded to drive 82 yards in 12 plays by running the ball. They attempted one pass, a Brady Sawyer overthrow to Moses Ulysse, but Fichthorn had already gained 30 yards on a sweep. On the fourth-and-five following the incompletion, Fabiani gained another eight yards.

On first-and-10 at the 13, the offensive line created a lane for High and tight end Brad Heck blocked the lone Cedar with a chance at High near the line of scrimmage. High barreled into the end zone for the opening score. Brandon Brubaker ran for the two point conversion and an 8-0 lead.

“Our line blocked tremendously and I saw my block and cut off of it,” said High. “I couldn’t have done without the line blocking. I had a tremendous area to run.”

The Eagles’ next two drives combined were shorter than the opening drive but as successful. Fichthorn opened the second drive with a 55-yard run to the 12-yard line. He finished the drive with a one-yard pitch and run around the left end.

Two plays into the Cedars’ next possession, Ben Fromm beat his man around the left end and forced Kissinger to fumble. The Eagles recovered the ball on the seven-yard line and capitalized immediately.

Sawyer tossed the ball to Fabiani behind the line with linemen Heck and Josh Hoover in front. While their blocks cleared the backfield, Fabiani still needed to bounce like a pinball to reach the end zone.

“They were stacking the box for the run for Hunter so there was room outside to run,” he said.

“I think our line is starting to come around,” commented Gingrich. “We have a young offensive line. They took a little bit of time to gel. I’m starting to see them piece some things together, communicating better, working together.”

Fichthorn broke off another long run before half-time and appeared to score but lost the ball near the end zone. The play was ruled a touchback when the ball went out of bounds.

Lebanon reached their 41 yard line with three seconds left in the half but Fromm again forced a fumble and recovered it.

With a 22-0 lead at half-time, Cocalico opened with the ball in the third period. Fabiani padded the lead with a 41-yard run with 1:30 gone.

“We ran a counter and the line blocked all their guys out,” recalled Fabiani. “Two linemen came across and kicked out the backers. Running backs blocked too and there was nobody to (stop the play).”

The Cedars avoided a shutout by completing all five passes on their next possession. Shaquell Ortiz caught the last pass for a six yard touchdown at the 7:31 mark; however, the point after kick was blocked.

High and Fabiani completed the next two drives with touchdowns. High’s TD followed a Sawyer to Ulysse 34 yard pass completion to the nine.

Ulysse set up the next touchdown with a long punt return, out-running everyone to and then down the side line, to the Lebanon 25-yard line. With 1:11 left in the third, Fabiani scored his third touchdown.

“(On) the last (TD), no one touched me,” Fabiani said. “The line blocked everyone they had to. It was just a big hole to run through.”

The mercy rule helped run out the clock through the fourth quarter but not before Nate Musser scored Cocalico’s last touchdown with 1:51 left.

While maybe it was not the masterpiece the coach envisions, he was glad for the victory.

“The net result was good,” said Gingrich. “You win a game up here, that’s wonderful. I still don’t like the intensity and the speed with which we’re playing. We’re just not playing at the speed we need to play to be a great team.”

The win evens Cocalico’s record at 2-2 and, for now, the restless pursuit for improvement continues. The Eagles have a big one this week when they travel to fellow Section Two contender Lampeter-Strasburg Friday.

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