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Indians will present challenge for the Barons
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
Ben Dupree should be a name that Manheim Central football fans know well.
The star QB was the face of a Susquehanna Township team that stood between the Barons and the District Three Triple-A title in 2009.
Today, Dupree is a junior playing at The Citadel and the District championship trophy from three years ago sits in the Barons’ showcase.
This Friday in the District Three Triple-A quarterfinals, those two squads will meet again for the first time since that game, but instead of a District title being on the line, the winner will get a berth in the semi-finals against the West York-Spring Grove winner. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Roscoe Warner Field on the Susquehanna Township High School campus.
And although Dupree is no longer on the Indians’ roster, third-seeded Susquehanna Township (9-2) has no shortage of weapons.
"They have some good skill players and they’re very fast," Barons’ head coach Mike Williams said. "They’re a good football team. That’s why they’re ranked up there number three, and they’re deserving of that ranking. They have some athletes and they have some tough physical players, so it presents a pretty good challenge to us."
The 11th-seeded Barons (9-2), in fact, won’t be picked to defeat ST. And with Manheim Central having come away a 35-29 victory over the Indians in 2009, Susquehanna Township is sure to have plenty of motivation.
"I think 99 percent of the people would say we’re underdogs," Williams said. "I think we’ll be a couple of touchdown underdogs in this game. But we’ve been in that situation before in the District playoffs."
The Indians were only 3-2 just five games into the season, but they have reeled off six straight wins since suffering a 37-14 loss to Bishop McDevitt (the number one seed in the District Three Triple-A playoffs) on Sept. 29. Their only other loss was a 14-13 setback to C.D. East on Sept. 7.
Overall, though, the Indians have scored 368 points in 11 games — an average of 33.4. In five of their wins, they have scored 40 or more points, including a season-high in their 61-14 pummeling of Palmyra on Sept. 21.
That is not good news for a Manheim Central defense which earlier this season gave up 27 points to Elizabethtown and 48 to Cocalico. Williams notes that his team’s defense has gotten better down the stretch, but that they are not as strong as they have traditionally been in previous seasons.
"If we don’t score a lot of points, we probably won’t have a chance to win," Williams said. "I don’t mean to necessarily degrade our defense. We’re just not as good as we’ve been on defense in the past. But I think we’ve improved, I think our kids play awfully hard. And I think they’re excited to play Susquehanna Township. It’s just that it’s going to be a little tougher because, outside of Cocalico, this is the best offense we’ve faced."
That offense is led by 5-foot-9, 175-pound senior Colby Grant, who has rushed for 1,130 yards and 15 TD’s on 139 carries (8.1 avg.), in addition to catching nine passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He leads the Indians with 108 points scored.
Senior quarterback Jordan Baskerville (6-foot-1, 180) is 71-of-131 through the air with 15 touchdowns and 8 INT’s. Jordan Banks (26 receptions, 576 yards, 6 TD’s) is the Indians’ top receiver.
"They’re about 80 percent run, 20 percent pass, somewhere in that vicinity, so they don’t throw the ball a lot, but they do have speed," Williams said. "They can throw deep if they have to, but their strength is running the football and playing good solid defense."
Senior middle linebacker Justin Gassert, wearing uniform number 10, is the heart of the Indians’ defensive unit.
"He’s a real wrecking crew there in the middle," Williams said. "And they just bring a lot of pressure. Not knowing him that well, we think he’s a tremendous player. He wreaks havoc in there. He’s just all over the place (with) reckless abandon and blitzes."
Manheim Central junior QB Colin Fry will certainly want to know where Gassert is playing when he comes up to line of scrimmage on Friday night. In the Barons’ 35-7 win over Garden Spot in their District opener last Friday, Fry (118-for-196 passing, 2,036 yards, 21 TD’s, 6 INT’s) threw for 279 yards and Central was held to 90 yards rushing.
"I think we’ve got to be a little more balanced," William said. "But there’s no question that, I think if we’re going to have consistent success, you’ve got to be able to throw the ball."
Junior tight end Taylor Geib (49 catches, 1,006 yards, 11 TD’s) is the Barons’ top receiver, while junior Ian Hanselman (99 rushes, 771 yards, 11 TD’s), junior Marc Royer 81-682, 6 TD’s) and senior Justin Greene (56-457, 6 TD’s) lead the ground game.
"If we can block (Gassert), we’ll have a chance," Williams said. "But their front four, they just bring a lot of forward pressure, not only in passing situations, but also in the run. They just try to disrupt you. And they’ve got some good defensive backs. We’ve been able to throw the ball pretty successfully this year, but we’re probably facing some of the better, quicker defensive backs that we’ve faced too."
To extend their season another week to the District semi-finals, however, the Barons know they will have to score multiple touchdowns.
"I think we really have to try to take the philosophy of, ‘If they score, we’ve got to score back,’" Williams said. "They’re going to give us some fits with their offense."
Even without Ben Dupree. More PREVIEW, page B-8