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Eight straight Warriors pound rival Ephrata 49-14 to retain George Male Trophy
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Warwick’s Jake Shillady was dropping into contain on the first play of the game last Friday when his eyes lit up.
While going back to pass, Ephrata QB Gyree Durante had the ball knocked from his hands by Warwick defensive tackle Austin Maguire, leaving it free for Shillady to pounce on.
And when the senior defensive end returned the fumble 11 yards to the end zone with just 13 seconds elapsed in the game, the Warriors were off and running.
"Tommy Garner and I jammed the tight end and then we went into our reads," Shillady recalled. "I saw (Durante) go into his drop and put his arm up ready to throw and Maguire just took him out and I saw the ball rolling on the ground and I grabbed it and headed the other way."
That was the first of two defensive TD’s that Shillady scored against the Mountaineers, and the Warriors got scores from three different ball carriers and Anthony Fatjo on a kickoff return en route to a 49-14 win at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field in the annual battle for the George Male Trophy.
"(Jake) got us off to a good start and then we were able to move the ball offensively early on," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "Their offensive line struggled with our defense and things snowballed a little bit on them. I don’t think we’re that much better than they are. If you coach long enough, it happens both ways. I mean, we had all the breaks go our way. They couldn’t catch a break. So I’m grateful for what we got tonight."
For Warwick (2-1), the win enabled them to take home the Male Trophy for the eighth straight year while improving its record to 40-38-6 in the all-time series, which dates back to 1930. Prior to the Warriors’ current streak, neither team had won more than four in a row, although Ephrata had seven-game unbeaten streaks from 1946-52 and again from 1990-96, including a tie.
"Before the game, Coach (Locker) was telling us how important it is to him and to our team, it’s one of the longest rivalries in the L-L League and this was the eighth year that Warwick’s won it," Shillady said. "So we really wanted to keep that streak going and extend the streak longer than it’s ever been before."
"George Male was my high school coach and he was a good mentor to me," Locker said. "He’s somebody that I’ve had respect for my whole life. So the Male Trophy means something to me. We talked about, ‘We want to take the trophy home. It’s ours, I want to take it back with us tonight and keep it.’ So it meant a lot. I thought the kids did a good job."
The goal for the Warriors was to play a complete game, and they certainly did that after Shillady’s early score gave them a 7-0 edge. Warwick added to its lead by scoring on three of its next four offensive possessions.
They covered 77 yards on seven plays midway through the first quarter, with QB Matt Pennypacker tossing a 33-yard TD strike to Austin Myers in the right corner of the end zone with 6:57 left in the stanza. Kobi Biemesderfer, who was 7-for-7 in PAT’s, split the uprights for a 14-0 lead.
Pennypacker finished 14-of-18 for 172 yards, with one touchdown and one pick. For Meyers, his TD grab was one of a game-high six catches worth 78 yards.
"I would like to have thrown a little bit more tonight, but I think that would have been the wrong thing to do," Locker said. "I thought Matt threw the ball well at times. He might have stared a little bit on the pick (in the second quarter), we’ve got to watch film. Other than that, I thought he did a real good job tonight. The receivers did a good job – I thought our patterns were pretty crisp. That’s a good sign and this is two weeks in a row where we’ve done a better job running the football."
After Warwick got a short field on a failed fake punt by the Mounts (0-3 overall), junior David Weaver (6-30 rushing) ran off left tackle for a five-yard TD run with 11:11 to go in the second quarter.
As a team, the Warriors ran for 115 yards and Tommy Garner’s 15-yard scamper around left end with 6:52 left in the half made it 28-0, which is how it remained at the break.
Overall, the Warriors outgained the Mounts 194-55 in yardage in the first half, and they had an 11-2 edge in first downs.
"(Ephrata running back Koty) Keefer was a really good athlete," Shillady said. "Our game plan was just try to keep him in contain and basically not let anybody that we didn’t know about just come out and surprise us. We just wanted to play our game."
That mindset continued to pay dividends in the third quarter, when Warwick received the kickoff and put together an 11-play, 66-yard scoring drive, capped by Gabe Taylor’s (10-27 rushing) four-yard run on a toss left to invoke the mercy rule.
Just over a minute later, with Ephrata on its own 10-yard line, a bad snap went over the head of Durante in shotgun formation, and Shillady jumped on the loose ball in the end zone to put Warwick up 42-0 with 5:51 remaining in the quarter.
"I thought I had the opportunity to dive underneath of (Durante) and get it," Shillady said, "and I just took it."
"The defensive touchdowns are a good sign," Locker said. "I thought we were pretty aggressive defensively tonight. I thought we came off the ball well and honestly, Shillady is a pretty good athlete. He’s a nice addition, but our down people did a good job."
The Mounts finally had something positive go their way on its first possession in the fourth quarter. Durante scrambled away from pressure and raced down the right sideline for a 37-yard gain and five plays later, the Mounts’ sophomore QB connected with junior wideout Ethan Sipe for a 21-yard TD pass. Keagan Remp added the PAT to make it 42-7 with 7:34 remaining.
On the ensuing kickoff, Fatjo found a lane and raced 78 yards to paydirt to give the Warriors their final points of the game.
"It was good to see special teams pick it up a little bit," Locker said. "Fatjo’s kick return was a great effort on his part."
But Ephrata buckled its chinstraps and answered with one final drive. Keefer’s 28-yard touchdown run on an option pitch left completed the scoring with 2:53 to go in the contest. Keefer finished with a game-high 119 yards rushing on 23 carries.
This Friday, Warwick opens Section One play when it heads to Cornwall to face Cedar Crest.
"Now it gets real," Locker said. "Cedar Crest is a very good football team. So we’ll take the win, we’ll watch the film, figure out what we need to work on and try to get ready for next week. Like I said, they’re a good football team. We’re going to have to play a real good game."
More WARRIORS, page B-8