- Finally: the Ephrata Brewfest!
- The fallout of 11 MC bomb threats
- Memorial Day Parade
- Second Friday the 13th
- Farmers market opens May 21
- Hello (again), Dolly!
- Kreider Farms opens silo observation tower
- ‘Hello, Dolly!’ opens Thursday at EPAC
- ‘Somewhereville Station’ revisits the 50s and 60s
- Manheim Downtown Development Group will dissolve
Bishop McDevitt denies the Barons Robinson runs for 296 yards, 3 TD’s while leading Crusaders to District crown
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor email@example.com
, Staff Writer
In the days leading up to last Friday’s District Three Triple-A championship game, Manheim Central coach Mike Williams wasn’t too excited about the idea of getting into a shootout with Bishop McDevitt.
With running back Andre Robinson and quarterback Nick Marsilio leading a Crusaders’ offense that averages 418 yards and 43 points per game, the Barons’ boss knew that might be a risky strategy.
Unfortunately for Manheim Central, Bishop McDevitt’s offense came as advertised.
Robinson showed off the kind of skills that have boosted him to a 2,000-yard rushing season, gaining 287 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns as the top-seeded Crusaders captured their fourth straight District championship with a 48-7 win over the No. 2-seeded Barons at Hersheypark Stadium.
It was hardly a one-man show for McDevitt, however. Marsilio completed his first six passes and finished 12-of-15 for 198 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Rashad Lawson added 63 yards and a TD, helping to power an attack which gained 555 total yards.
"They have a great football team – two unbelievable running backs," Williams remarked. "Lawson and Robinson are just unbelievable. It was all Bishop McDevitt and I guess the way it turned out, we weren’t even in the hunt tonight."
While the Barons ended their season with a 13-1 record, Bishop McDevitt (13-1) now advances to the PIAA State semi-finals against Erie Cathedral Prep (13-0) this Friday.
"We’re proud of our kids," Williams said. "They had a great season, (finishing) 13-1 and we got to the District finals and played the elite team in District Three – the best team overall in District Three, without a question. They will be number one at any classification for years to come."
Certainly, the Barons were hampered by a few key injuries. In addition to a banged up secondary, back-up QB Tony Staffieri left the game early in the second quarter with what Williams believed was a broken collarbone. Staffieri was playing in place of starter Colin Fry, who was injured in the Barons’ 42-20 win over Cocalico in the District semi-finals.
"We just didn’t have the horses to stay with them, especially after the injuries," Williams said. "I think Bishop McDevitt was heavily favored, they have a great football team and we needed everything we could muster – we needed all of our players to even have a shot at it and we needed all the calls to go right and it didn’t happen that way."
In particular, Williams wasn’t happy about a non-call by the officials during a sequence of plays on the Barons’ third possession when he said the Crusaders had 12 men on the field. At the time, trailing just 13-0, Manheim Central was knocking on the door with a first-and-goal from the McDevitt 8-yard-line. The drive eventually ended when Staffieri was sacked on fourth down by Crusaders’ blitzing linebacker Nate Monroe. The fact that Staffieri was injured on the play only added to the Barons’ frustration.
"You look at the scenario, had we got the penalty and not had to pass, maybe (Tony) wouldn’t have gotten hurt," Williams said. "I’m not saying by any means that they weren’t the better team and would have still beat us handily, but that sequence turned that game completely around. Had we scored and had momentum from that score, who knows?"
It was the Crusaders who gained some early momentum, thanks to a 50-yard TD pass from Marsilio to sophomore Kobay White (5-96 receiving) on a third-and-21 play with 3:40 left in the opening quarter, followed by a Marsilio-to-Chad Cortez 32-yard TD strike just over two minutes later to go up 13-0.
"We had two or three guys out in the secondary and it was like, they could throw the ball anytime they wanted," Williams said. "We were basically playing JV players in the secondary."
The Barons, meanwhile, had early chances as well, driving to or inside the 30 on each of their first four possessions behind senior running backs Marc Royer (28 carries, 190 yards) and Ian Hanselman (10-91 rushing).
"Running-back wise, 1-2 punch, they’re as good as any we’ve had," assistant coach Dave Hahn said. "When you have that kind of 1-2 punch, we were very fortunate."
But they came up empty, turning it over on downs, then fumbling the ball on a botched handoff, followed by a turnover on downs and Damon Crouse’s missed 39-yard field goal.
"We just had a little trouble in the red zone tonight, I think, but we were definitely moving the ball," said Royer, who is looking at King’s College and PSAC schools Bloomsburg and Lock Haven, among others.
"I think Mike and I were both feeling like, ‘Hey, if we can just get a couple of stops here and there, we can move the ball on them,’" Hahn said. "But that’s a juggernaut of an offense to stop too. They gave it a great effort. It just wasn’t enough."
Of course, the possession which Manheim Central will remember a long time was the one involving a non-call for 12 men on the field.
"When we go to seven officials for the District playoffs (from five for the regular season), the officiating gets worse," Williams said. "It gets lax. We’ve been in the playoffs 25 years and I’ve seen it happen almost every year – they miss so many things."
When Bishop McDevitt took over following Monroe’s sack of Staffieri, they extended their lead to 20-0 as Robinson capped a nine-play drive with a seven-yard TD run with 6:23 remaining in the half.
The Barons transitioned to the Wildcat with Royer and Hanselman taking direct snaps, and they continued to move the ball on the ground. Eventually, Fry went under center, but with the injured signal-caller unable to pass the ball, the Barons options became limited against a Bishop McDevitt defense, which loaded the box and executed blitzes.
For the game, Staffieri and Fry combined to go just 2-of-3 for 18 yards through the air.
"When you can’t pass you’re caught between a rock and a hard place," Williams said.
"How many times during the year did we get down there and we’d throw a little play-action pass?," Hahn said. "And tonight, it was hard to do. We couldn’t do it, especially when Tony went out."
It didn’t get any better when Robinson rumbled 80 yards to the house on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, extending the Crusaders’ advantage to 27-0. Robinson, with his combined power and speed, surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for the season in Friday night’s game.
"I think that really hurt us," acknowledged Royer, an outside linebacker. "We were fired up, we were only down 20-0, we came out here thinking we could get back in the game and then he broke that big run."
"He’s tremendous," Williams said of Robinson. "Just his shiftiness. You’re ready to tackle him and he’s not there. He’s a great player – probably one of the best running backs we’ve ever faced, to be honest with you."
Royer, though, is a great player in his own right, and the 2,000-yard back finally got MC on the board when he scored on a 65-yard run down the left sideline with 10:34 left in the third quarter. Crouse’s PAT made it 27-7.
"I have to give credit to the line and the coaches," Royer said. "They opened up big holes and I just ran through. I don’t think I got touched, just an arm tackle. I just broke that and I just had to outrun (the defender)."
After that, it was all McDevitt. Robinson’s 21-yard TD run with 8:34 left in the third was the 63rd of his high school career, putting the Crusaders in front 34-7.
"He’s the best running back we’ve faced all year, no doubt," Royer said. "(Cocalico’s) Jhet Janis is pretty good. He’s probably the best one other than Robinson."
Lawson added a five-yard touchdown run with 3:24 left in the third quarter, and then Que’shawn Jenkins’ 15-yard TD run with 5:28 to go in the fourth completed the scoring.
Despite the ending, however, it was a memorable season for the Barons.
"It’s really sad to see it end," Royer said. "I wish it wasn’t over, but that’s part of life."
More BARONS, page B-10