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Barons reign over Ephrata following long rain delay
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Ephrata might have had a claim to victory against Manheim Central last Friday if play didn’t resume following a lengthy lightning/rain delay.
"We were kidding about it when the lightning started, ‘We could win the game by who has the first first down,’" Ephrata coach Scott Shelley joked. "We had a great shot."
Four plays into the game, the Mounts did indeed move the chains.
But after Mother Nature finally relented, it was the Barons who controlled the first downs — and the scoreboard — on their way to a 56-0 shutout at Manheim’s Elden Rettew Field. Six different players reached the end zone for Manheim Central, led by quarterback Colin Fry, who ran for two touchdowns and passed for three as the Barons improved to 4-1 in league play (6-2 overall) to remain one game behind first-place Cocalico (5-0, 8-0).
"That’s our whole concept. We have an offense that doesn’t feature one player," Barons’ coach Mike Williams said. "In most of my 32 years, we try to get a lot of guys involved. That’s the good thing about the offense — parents are happy and coaches are happy and we don’t feature that one guy that we have to count on or single out. We like to spread it around and we have three good running backs and we have several very good receivers and Colin put the ball on the money, so it was good."
Ephrata has a very good linebacker/running back in Josh Gehman, who was unavailable for the Mounts (1-4 league, 1-7 overall) on Friday night. Certainly, the team’s leading tackler would have been welcomed on a defense which gave up 444 yards to Central.
"I make no excuses, I want everybody to understand that, but we came in with one arm tied behind our back and another arm tied to our leg," Shelley said. " Josh Gehman is our leading tackler and only found out tonight he couldn’t play — his knee swelled up. We’re just in that situation that we’re not deep enough to be able to plant people in and do whatever. So what we basically said to our kids was, ‘I don’t care who we’re playing. All you know is they’ve got a different colored shirt on. We have got to start winning battles individually.’ And overall, we did a much better job of that."
Both teams also did a good job of keeping themselves occupied while waiting out a 1-hour, 37 minute delay with only 2:47 elapsed in the opening quarter. Ephrata and Manheim Central each wanted badly to play Friday and their patience was eventually rewarded.
"That was nerve-wracking as can be — the adrenaline is flowing, you’re ready to go and then you get delayed and then it’s another delay, delay, delay and we weren’t sure for awhile if we were even going to get it in," Williams said. "When (the players) found out they were going to play, they were psyched and I think we came out and played with a lot of enthusiasm. I know Ephrata is down and had some injuries, but I thought we played with a lot of enthusiasm and gave a good effort tonight."
That effort by the Barons produced a six-play, 78-yard scoring drive on their opening possession, and with 2:50 left in the first, Fry found Cole Proffitt for a 37-yard TD strike, giving the senior wideout his second career touchdown.
Overall, Manheim Central scored on all four its first-half possessions en route to a 28-0 lead at the intermission, and they reached paydirt on seven of their eight touches for the game.
Marc Royer’s 54-yard TD run on the fourth play of the second quarter, after keeping his footing along the left sideline following a last-ditch diving effort by an EHS tackler, and Fry’s three-yard keeper, coupled with PAT’s by Evan Stauffer, pushed the Barons’ lead to 21-0. Brenden Wagner’s fumble recovery at the Mounts’ 19-yard line gave Central a short field leading to Fry’s TD run.
Royer finished with a game-high 105 rushing yards on seven carries, leading an MC ground attack which gained 239 total yards.
"(Royer) ranks as probably the fastest (among the running backs) and then Justin Greene is second and Ian (Hanselman)’s kind of a guy who pounds it a little bit, and then Danny Wiederrecht who scored at the end, he’s a receiver for us but he’s going to be a terrific running back, in my opinion," Williams said. "Three of those four kids are returning next year, so with a year of maturity, they should be pretty good next year."
Trailing 21-0, the Mounts, who earlier went 2-for-2 in fourth down conversions, achieved its deepest penetration into MC territory. Highlighted by Blake Weaver’s 37-yard run around right end, the Mounts drove to the Barons’ 23 before QB Bobby Nye (17 carries, 47 yards) was stopped just short on a fourth-down carry. Weaver’s 54 rushing yards led an Ephrata ground game which gained 145 total yards.
"Our offensive line did so much better than they have in the past, we ran the ball hard," Shelley said. "I think we were able to move the ball on them to some degree … We got first downs, we moved the ball against them and that was not maligning (Central). It was what our kids are starting to do better. That’s what we’re trying to develop."
"I think Phil Kauffman’s done a good job with their offense and I give Ephrata a lot of credit — they fought hard and they moved the ball and got some first downs, so I give their kids a lot of credit for hanging in there," Williams said.
Late in the opening half, the Barons put together another long scoring drive and Fry completed three of four passes, including two hook-ups with tight end Taylor Geib (4-151 receiving) to get the ball deep into Mounts’ territory. Fry capped it by scoring on another three-yard keeper.
From there, it didn’t take long for the Barons to invoke the mercy rule. On the first play of the second half, Geib quickly got behind the Mounts’ secondary and Fry hit him in stride for a 65-yard touchdown to make it 35-0 with just 10 seconds elapsed in the third period.
"Both backs faked the power and we had (Taylor) split out a little wider and the inside (player) released him and in three steps, he was by himself and Colin, of course, threw a nice pass," Williams said. "Taylor, if anything is close to him, he pretty much grabs it."
Geib also hauled in a 42-yard TD pass later in the quarter, breaking a tackle by the Mounts’ Nate Bradley on his way into the end zone. Then in the fourth quarter, Greene and Wiederrecht scored on TD runs of 22 and 35 yards, respectively, to wrap things up.
Central will now prepare to face long-time rival Conestoga Valley this Friday with an eye toward trying to move up in the District Three Triple-A power ratings. As of deadline, the Barons were ranked 15th.
"Next week’s another game for us and we’ve got to win," Williams said. "We’ve got to win our or we’re going to be at the bottom of the heap. With three losses, we may not even make it. We’ve got to have some help to move up the line. Otherwise, we’re going to be in the bottom half and that means we’re getting somebody pretty good to start with."
Ephrata, meanwhile, will be looking to earn its second win of the season when they travel to Quarryville to face Solanco (1-4, 1-7) this Friday night.
"We’ve got a lot to learn and we’re inexperienced and people don’t realize that it doesn’t just happen, poof," Shelley said. "Early on (against Central), we were there every time. We didn’t finish some of the tackles. But we’re there. We’re getting there. Experience is going to come and we’re going to be alright … It’s not only technique. It’s learning how to win, it’s learning how to continually get after people and they’re doing it. I’m proud of them." More BARONS, page B-4