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Armbrust, Garden Spot handle Warwick, 47-22
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Normally, Warwick plays solid defense against option teams.
Last Friday night, however, they had their hands full against Garden Spot.
Credit Spartans’ quarterback John Armbrust for a lot of that.
The senior signal-caller accounted for nearly 300 yards of offense, including two TD runs and three TD passes, as Garden Spot darted to a 27-7 halftime lead and cruised to a 47-22 non-league win in New Holland.
Armbrust, who scampered 65 yards to paydirt on the game’s first play from scrimmage, finished with 163 rushing yards on 13 carries, in addition to completing 7-of-19 passes for 131 yards, with no interceptions.
"They asked (Armbrust) to make a different kind of read — they asked him to read second-level flow and he’s really good at it," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "They just made us pay early on. He’s a very good athlete and he made great reads and they had us well scouted. We’re usually pretty good against the option, but they took what we’re good at and actually managed to use it against us a little bit. So you’ve got to give (Garden Spot’s) coaching staff credit for that."
Warwick (0-3), meanwhile, continues to look for answers on the offensive side of the ball, as senior Tyler Farnan missed his second straight week under center due to a concussion. It didn’t help their cause that junior lineman Tom Devenney was forced to the sideline early because of a finger/hand injury, with junior tackle Brett Brosemer already sidelined by a season-ending injury as well.
Senior Brady Forney and sophomore Aaron Springer rotated at the quarterback spot, and although Forney (5-12-2, 197 yards) completed touchdown passes of 57 and 60 yards to Korey Johnson, the Warriors found themselves fighting an uphill battle for most of the game.
"We don’t seem to be capable of running double-tight one back like we’ve done for years and we’re just having a real hard time doing things that we’ve done for the last five, six years very successfully," Locker said. "We’ve got to keep experimenting trying to find something that works. I thought Forney played awfully well and I thought in the second half, Johnson and (J.A.) Howland stepped up at wideout and really played well. But man, we’re playing from behind and it’s so hard to catch up. We’re a work in progress and I guess we’ll take a step back and maybe try to figure out how to run our base offense a little more effectively."
Armbrust did an effective job with Garden Spot’s offense on Friday, giving his Spartans a lead they never relinquished on the opening play when he faked a jet sweep, kept the ball on an option play, and ran 65 yards to the end zone, making it 7-0 with just :12 elapsed.
Forney, who had a team-high 58 rushing yards on 18 carries, ran for a couple of first downs on Warwick’s opening possession, and then Shawn Mearig’s punt pinned GS on its own 12 for its next series. But Spartans’ running back Dakota Leid (19-167 rushing) barreled for a 74-yard run deep inside Warrior territory.
"The running backs run hard — they’re not huge, but they run hard," Locker said. "And those kids played a physical football game. They came out and punched us in the mouth."
Moments later, on fourth-and-long, Armbrust fired a strike to senior wide receiver Ryan Connell in the right corner of the end zone. Although the PAT missed, the Spartans had a 13-0 advantage with 4:26 left in the first.
Springer (5-10-0, 24 yards) and Forney threw a couple strikes of their own on Warwick’s next possession. Following Springer’s 15-yard first-down hookup with Forney, Johnson beat GS corner Tyson Petersheim and hauled in a 57-yard TD pass from Forney to get the Warriors on the scoreboard. Mearig’s PAT cut the Spartans’ lead to 13-7 with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
"We were just taking advantage of all the DB’s and safeties sucking down to take Forney away running out of direct snap because he’s an excellent weapon," Locker said. "We just saw some things and we had a call on for it and that was that."
Warwick, though, wouldn’t gain another first down in the opening half, and Garden Spot added two more scores — on Armbrust’s 15-yard run around left end and Petersheim’s 11-yard TD reception — to build its lead to 27-7 going to the locker room.
For the game, Garden Spot gained 345 yards on the ground and 476 total yards.
Meanwhile, the Forney-to-Johnson combination again paid dividends for the Warriors on their opening drive of the second half. Senior Anthony Boak (13-54 rushing) ran for a first down and then three plays later, Johnson (6 receptions, 173 yards) pulled down a 60-yard TD reception to cut the Spartans’ lead to 27-13 with 9:26 to go in the third.
But Armbrust and senior wideout Connor Schlegel answered with a big play of their own, connecting for a 61-yard TD strike to put GS in front 34-13 just over a minute later.
"Schlegel is a real good wideout," Locker said.
It stayed that way until Leid scored on a two-yard run to cap an 11-play, 51-yard drive with 10:40 left in the fourth, stretching the lead to 40-13 after Jared Good blocked the PAT.
"We made some minor adjustments and in the second half, we slowed them down — we just couldn’t stop them," Locker said. "They did a nice job running their option."
The Warriors put together their best drive of the night on their next series, as Boak ran five times for 21 yards. Finally, Forney capped the 10-play, 79-yard drive on a four-yard TD run with 5:39 remaining.
Freshman Austin Maguire’s fumble recovery got the ball back for Warwick, and they drove inside the Spartans’ red zone, as Howland grabbed a 24-yard pass from Forney. The threat ended when Spot’s Petersheim picked off a pass at the GS 2, but two plays later, Warrior linebacker Chad Messimer forced an intentional grounding from Armbrust in the end zone, resulting in a safety which cut the Spartans’ lead to 40-22 with 2:48 remaining.
But another pick by Petersheim thwarted the Warriors’ hopes and then Leid completed the scoring on a 31-yard TD run with 2:15 left.
"I’d have never throught we’d give up 47 (points)," Locker said. "I’d have said no way, because I think we’re a pretty good defensive football team. But we missed tackles that we weren’t missing the first two weeks and you’ve got to finish plays."
The Warriors will return to action this Friday night when they travel to Cornwall to face Cedar Crest in their Section One opener.
"We’ve got to continue to find things we can do based on what we have available to us," Locker said. "I really, really, really know that it’s not a lack of effort on the kids’ part. They’re playing hard. Physically, I think they’re doing all that they can." More WARRIORS, page B-6