Early-season views from the pressbox
OK, so now we’re two weeks into the high school football season. Now we can start to gain a little bit of perspective.
Those minus-seven rushing yards that Warwick had against Manheim Central in week one? I believe it’s safe to say that the Warriors’ ground game is better than that.
That same Manheim Central defense gave up only 10 yards of offense in the second half this past Friday night to a Hempfield team that took apart Lampeter-Strasburg by a 40-7 score in week one. The Warriors, meanwhile, came back with 225 rushing yards against Conestoga Valley in their second game. The Warriors showed some positive signs, none bigger than the emergence of running back David Weaver, who ran hard while gaining 100 yards and two scores in his varsity debut.
Time will tell how the Warriors fare once Section One games start. But if the first two weeks have shown anything, it does appear, as Warwick coach Bob Locker indicated during the pre-season, that there is a more level playing field – more parity – in Section One this fall. It’s worth noting that Lancaster Catholic, without Roman Clay, sits a surprising 0-2 right now and has scored just six points in two games. McCaskey, without Aaron Swinton and Diante Cherry, is 0-2 with losses to Reading and York. The Red Knights, by the way, just dropped a 44-6 loss to Cocalico.
I know it can be dangerous to start comparing scores and making judgements from those sorts of things. It’s still early, after all. But there is no denying the boost that the Warriors have gotten from seniors Jake Shillady and Alexander Mork, a foreign exchange student.
Last year, Warwick got an unexpected lift from Ryan Gruett, who played football following a hiatus away from the sport.
This year, it’s Shillady and Mork filling that role. Shillady reminds me a lot of Teal Stutzman, a big 6-footer who played fullback for the Warriors a few years ago. Like Teal, Jake is a stud at 6-foot-3, 223 pounds. He seems destined to get a few carries, throw a lot of lead blocks and perhaps strike some fear into opposing teams’ defensive coordinators this fall.
That’s just the run game. Don’t forget that the Warriors were also talking about passing the ball a little bit more this year. Anthony Fatjo, Tommy Garner and Austin Myers have all proven that they can catch the ball – having combined for 66 receptions in 2012. So this indeed might have the makings of a balanced offense in 2013.
A year ago, Warwick started the season 3-1 and then we know what happened after that. They have a chance to duplicate that start this year, although they will need to get past Ephrata this Friday with the George Male Trophy at stake and then knock off an improved Cedar Crest team the following week in their Section One opener. The Falcons (1-1) have scored 68 points in their first two games and lost by just a field goal to Lower Dauphin in week two. Just for fun, let’s say Warwick is 3-1 through its first four games. That would put them halfway to their goal of returning to the District Three playoffs for the first time since 2010. They would still have a lot of tests ahead of them, but the road looks more navigable than it did a year ago.
More C0LUMN, page B-8