Who will deliver the Male?

By on September 16, 2015

The 86th meeting between back-yard rivals Warwick and Ephrata will commence Friday night on the turf at War Memorial Field.

Ephrata running back Evan Frees

Ephrata running back Evan Frees

The Warriors have held the upper hand for the better part of a decade, and can win their 10th-straight George Male Trophy with a victory on Friday. Their run of success has given them a 22-16-1 edge in games played for the Male Trophy and a 41-38-6 mark all-time in the series, which dates back to 1930.

Right now, however, both teams are 0-2 on the season and in serious need of a win on the eve of their final non-league tune-up.Warwick has dropped games to Manheim Central and Garden Spot out of the gates, while Ephrata has suffered setbacks to Conestoga Valley and Cocalico in the opening two weeks.

Warrior coach Bob Locker and Mountaineer coach Scott Shelley talked with Lititz Record and Ephrata Review sports editors Bruce Morgan and Todd Ruth about the upcoming match-up:

Bruce Morgan: What is the mood of the team right now after the loss to Garden Spot?

Bob Locker: I don’t really know if I’ll know until (Monday). They were a little down. We have to find a way to be better. It’s just an unacceptable amount of mistakes. We have to tackle better, we have to execute better. We’re two weeks into the season, but this is a pretty critical moment in time. We have to find a way to start to fix things.

BM: Tackling and simply executing things, are those the two biggest issues for you right now?

BL: I think tackling is the biggest issue. The first three possessions Friday night, we were fine. The defense played well, and then we just had a really difficult time tackling (after that). Offensively, our execution was not what it needed to be. Some of the things we practiced during the week, we failed to execute correctly come Friday night. So some of it’s on us. Garden Spot played a very good football game, but we need to find a way to get better.

Todd Ruth: After Friday’s loss to Cocalico, what is the mental state of your team right now?

Scott Shelley: I think they are excited about Friday night, to be honest with you. We just said it was one of those games, and you dump it. You bury it, you forget about it, look at a couple things…I pointed out a couple things that they are not doing. I made a general statement that we are teaching them to do stuff, and they can see what they are not doing, and go from there. It’s kind of like the Penn State-Temple game…you just bury it. That’s what we are doing and we are preparing diligently for Warwick. That’s what our job is and that’s what we’re going to do.

TR: We saw some good things, particularly in the second half, and some not so go things against Cocalico. What do you need to fix heading into the match-up with Warwick?

SS: The players doing the things they are being coached to do. That’s probably our biggest thing. And I don’t mean that in a negative way at all. We just seem to make it hard on ourselves. I said, “can you explain to me why you did this?” That’s not what we are teaching you. They say, “Coach, I really can’t.” And that’s fine. I’m just trying to understand. It’s almost like a psychological thing. We teach them to do one thing and they are doing the other thing. That’s probably our biggest problem.

Offensively, I thought we did a pretty nice job Friday. We just cannot continually give the ball back. We can’t go into a race with another team. I thought the offense moved the ball half-decently but we get two penalties on each of our first two series and that really hurt us. But we still are moving the ball positively which is a big plus.

BM: Heading into this game against Ephrata, your team has obviously held the upper hand for a number of years now. How does that help you or hurt you going into this Friday’s game?

BL: In theory, it should help us because we have an opportunity to win for the 10th time. That would be an achievement, so that should be a positive. Winning for the 10th time in a row and playing for the Male Trophy is always important, but the most important thing this week has to quite simply be that we need to find a way to be a better football team. So we certainly want to win the Male Trophy again, but more than anything else, we’ve got to want to work during this week to become better at what we do, plain and simple.

TR: Warwick has owned the Male Trophy for the better part of the last decade. What’s it going to take to snatch it away from them?

SS: We got to win the line of scrimmage. We got to win the game in the trenches. There are no two ways about it. I think we have that opportunity, and that’s where games are usually won or lost. And we got to sure up our special teams. We got to get these kids to understand the importance of special teams. You can’t let a kid run a punt back and get put in the hole right off the bat.

BM: Who or what concerns you most about Ephrata?

BL: Defensively, they’ve got a couple of kids &tstr; number 50 (Hunter Lehman) is a good football player, 44 (Randy Barrett), 4 (Evan Frees). They have some kids that will hit you. They seem to be playing with a little more energy than maybe they did a year ago, so we’re a little concerned, and we had a hard time moving the ball Friday night. So defensively, their linebackers are probably a strength for them. Offensively, they seem to have settled into an offense that works for them to some degree. Barrett runs well and they do some things pretty well, and like I said, they seem comfortable with the offense that they’re using right now.

TR: What are your biggest concerns about Warwick?

SS: (Quarterback Colin) Gibble does everything. He throws, he runs and that’s pretty much it. It looks like the offense pretty much evolves around him. We’ve got to be able to stop Gibble, and if we can’t stop him it’s going to be another long night. That’s one of the things we have to try and do.

BM: They seemed to run the ball better better in week one against Conestoga Valley. That, combined with your rush defense not being where you’d like it to be right now, how much of a concern is that?

BL: It’s a concern. They are better at running the ball than they were a year ago and we haven’t shown the ability to stop a good running game. So we have some work to do.

BM: What are your expectations for Friday night?

BL: My expectation is that we’re going to go back to being the football team I saw for the two scrimmages and the first half of Manheim Central. I know my kids have pride, I have too many kids who have put too much into this, so I expect them to rebound and go back to helping us be the football team I honestly believe we can be.

TR: Coach Shelley, what are your expectations heading into Friday’s match-up?

SS: I just want our kids to play hard. If they play hard with great effort and cut down on the mistakes, we can be in any game. I really, truly believe that. I told them that. We have the athletes all over to do it, we just have to put forth the optimum effort if we are going to win games. I’m hoping and praying a light comes on and they come out and get after them. It could be a very exciting game if that were to be the case.

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