Intense Barons’ defense steps up in 28-7 win over L-S Football
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
In three previous meetings against Lampeter-Strasburg, Manheim Central’s football team had taken the collar.
That 0-for-3 stretch just happened to include a 25-20 loss to Pioneers in the District Three Triple-A playoff quarterfinals two seasons ago.
Last Friday night, it was the Barons’ defense that did the collaring, limiting L-S to just 116 yards of total offense and holding Section Two’s third-leading rusher, Ryan Lawler, to 11 yards on nine carries.
That defensive effort, coupled with junior Colin Fry’s four touchdown passes, lifted the Barons to a 28-7 victory over the Pioneers in a Section Two showdown in Lampeter. The victory pulled Manheim Central (3-1 L-L, 5-2 overall) into a second-place tie with Lampeter-Strasburg and kept them one game off the pace behind front-running Cocalico (4-0 L-L).
"Their offense is pretty potent. (L-S coach) John Mannion has a real good offense and they do a lot of tricky things and make it hard," Manheim Central skipper Mike Williams said. "But any time you can hold them to seven points and just a little over a hundred yards, that’s a good night."
The Barons needed a good night after yielding 48 points and 624 yards of offense to Cocalico just a week earlier.
Williams said they didn’t necessarily make a lot of adjustments on the defensive side of the ball, other than to work harder in practice and focus on tackling and intensity.
"We just had kids play better," Williams said. "We just coached them harder and they responded … It was really quite a step up from the Cocalico game. They played with a lot more intensity and of course, it really was quite a big factor in giving us field position almost the whole game. When L-S did have a drive, we shut them down on fourth down. So we just played inspired defense for a change."
Of course, they also played inspired offense, led by Fry, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 184 yards, with four TD’s and no picks. Junior tight end Taylor Geib was his favorite target, as he had four receptions for 75 yards and two scores. Andrew Seiverling (3-52 receiving) also hauled in a pair of touchdown strikes.
"(Colin) threw some great passes," Williams said. "We had some near misses — we had some balls that we could have caught that we didn’t catch. But Andrew Seiverling and Taylor Geib made some great catches on some of his throws, so he had a good night again."
Seiverling was the first one to reach the end zone when he grabbed a 15-yard aerial from Fry and then Evan Stauffer followed with the PAT to make it 7-0 in the opening stanza.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Lawler received the kickoff deep in his own end and took it 99 yards to the house for the game-tying touchdown.
Outside of that long return, however, Lawler was frustrated by Manheim Central’s defense, managing minus-one yard in the opening two quarters. Going into Friday night’s action, the senior running back had 600 yards rushing and a Section-best 12 touchdowns. As an offensive unit, the Pioneers were ranked second in Section Two behind only Cocalico with 273.7 yards per game.
Although the Pioneers didn’t have the likes of Jordan Groff, Ray Lopez, Matt McCrudden, Dan Neff and Nate Shank, who helped them win the Section Two crown each of the past two seasons, they were still a dangerous offense nonetheless.
"(Lawler) was obviously the main guy that they focused on," Williams said. "In the past, they had three or four kids like him so it made it difficult. But again, I think we studied some film and knew them a little bit better after having played them a couple of years."
Manheim Central’s offense proved to be a difficult one to stop for L-S on Friday, and Fry’s 24-yard hook-up with Seiverling in the second quarter gave the Barons a lead they never relinquished.
With the Pioneers trailing 14-7, they put together their best offensive drive of the night, marching 63 yards to the Barons’ seven-yard line. Then on fourth down, freshman QB Collin Shank hit Jordan Spahr in the flat, but Manheim Central senior defensive lineman Nate Henry read it perfectly and dropped the Pioneers’ junior tight end for a 10-yard loss.
"That was a big play for us there, a huge play," Williams said. "But again, it involved some film study. We were a little bit more focused on knowing what L-S was doing on offense when they were in certain formations and had certain motions. We played with more intensity and we also played with more intelligence. We recognized the play coming, whereas I don’t if we would have recognized it two weeks ago."
Bolstered by Henry’s big play, Manheim Central carried its 14-7 lead into the break, and then got some breathing room when Fry connnected with Geib for a 16-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
The Barons also ran for 137 yards against Lampeter-Strasburg’s defense, led by Marc Royer, who had a team-high 15 carries for 47 yards.
But they went back to the air to cash in for their fourth TD of the night, a 14-yard Fry-to-Geib connection in the fourth quarter which put the finishing touches on the Pioneers.
Manheim Central will now hope to carry the momentum from that game into week eight, when they host Ephrata in their Homecoming game. More BARONS, page B-8