Tale of the Tape
District Semifinals: Cocalico (11-1) at Manheim Central (12-0)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: at Elden Rettew Field, Manheim
What’s at Stake: A berth in District finals.
How they got here:
Barons- District First Round: d. Garden Spot 34-17; District Quarterfinals: d. Susquehanna Township 17-14.
Eagles- District First Round: d. Gettysburg 43-8; District Quarterfinals: d. Lancaster Catholic 35-21.
Last Meeting: Oct. 4, in Denver- Manheim Central 24, Cocalico 12.
About Cocalico: The Eagles come in on a roll, winners of their last six games since their mid-season loss to the Barons. Included in those victories are a pair of playoff wins over Gettysburg and Lancaster Catholic. Cocalico continues to get it done on both sides of the ball. Perhaps a most telling reason for its success is the fact that the Eagles usually don’t beat themselves. They are currently a league-best 24-plus in turnover margin, which includes 18 interceptions. Offensively, senior QB Jhet Janis headlines this group, having run for 934 yards and 18 scores while passing for an additional 628 yards and six touchdowns out of the Eagles’ veer option attack, which averages 361 yards per game. Senior tailback Spencer Moser remains Cocalico’s home run threat out of the backfield, rushing for 1160 yards and 16 scores. Fullbacks Brad Whittaker (77-513 yards, 7 TDs) and Matt Weinhold (63-344 yards, 6 TDs) give the Eagles an inside one-two punch as well. When the Eagles go to the air, it’s usually off play-action. Moser (9 catches, 216 yards, 2 TDs) senior wideout Mitch Deering (9 catches, 198 yards, 2 TDs) and senior tight end Casey Kerschner (7 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD) are the main threats there. Defensively, Janis has eight interceptions and two scores to lead an opportunistic unit. Moser added two interceptions, including a pick-six in Friday’s win over Catholic. Dalton Kern remains their leading tackler on the year with 123, including three sacks and two forced fumbles.Deering also has three interceptions for the Eagles.
About Manheim Central: Since defeating Cocalico 24-12 in week six, Manheim Central continued to run the table en route to its first Section Two championship since 2009. In the first two rounds of the District Three Triple-A playoffs, the Barons got scares from Garden Spot and Susquehanna Township before eventually winning 34-17 and 17-14, respectively, to improve to 12-0. Their success this season is due in large part to a stingy defense and a rushing game that averages 313 yards per game, led by senior Marc Royer, who has rumbled for 1,824 yards and 21 touchdowns, and senior Ian Hanselman, who has 1,040 yards and 20 TD’s on the ground. Through the air, senior quarterback Colin Fry is completing 60 percent of his passes, going 71-of-119 for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns, with just two picks. His favorite targets include senior tight end Taylor Geib (21 catches, 334 yards, 4 TD’s), senior wideout Andrew Seiverling (24-324 receiving, 5 TD’s) and junior wideout Dan Wiederrecht (25-522 receiving, 6 TD’s). Defensively, the Barons finished the regular season with three straight shutouts, giving them five for the year, and they are allowing an average of just 8.9 points and 79.6 rushing yards per game. Junior linebacker Justin Moreno had a team-high 14 tackle points last week for a Barons defense which got two key fourth-down stops at their own five-yard line in their win over the Indians. For the season, Moreno has a team-best 127 tackle points, while senior defensive end Rey Lasanta and Geib, an outside linebacker, lead the way with 6.5 and 4.5 sacks, respectively. Senior cornerback Noah Dieffenbach has pirated a team-best four INTs.
When Cocalico has the ball:
Eagles: QB- Jhet Janis (5-10, 200, Sr.); FB- Matt Weinhold (5-8, 145, Jr.); TB- Spencer Moser (5-8, 170, Sr.); TE- Casey Kerschner (6-2, 220, Sr.); WR- Mitch Deering (5-8, 140, Sr.); WR- Mitch Shober (5-11, 175, Sr.); LT- John Fry (5-11, 270, So.); LG- Brady Maxwell (5-9, 225, Fr.); C- Mitch Naumann (5-8, 180, Sr.); RG- Jake Keifer (5-11, 175, Jr.); RT- Zach Eberly (6-4, 200, Sr.).
Barons: DT- Brock Fittery (5-10, 192, So.); DT- Chad Zunich (6-3, 315, Jr.); DE- Wade Beamesderfer (6-1, 185, Sr.); DE- Rey Lasanta (6-1, 210, Sr.); ILB- Ian Hanselman (6-1, 220, Sr.); ILB- Justin Moreno (6-1, 225, Jr.); OLB- Taylor Geib (6-2, 225, Sr.); OLB- Daniel Kolk (5-10, 185, Sr.); S- Nick Brubaker (6-0, 178, Sr.); CB- Andrew Seiverling (5-10, 160, Sr.); CB- Noah Dieffenbach- (5-9, 144, Sr.).
When Manheim has the ball:
Barons: QB- Colin Fry (5-11, 196, Sr.); RB- Marc Royer (5-9, 180, Sr.); RB- Hanselman; HB- Moreno; TE- Geib; WR- Seiverling; WR- Dan Wiederrecht (5-11, 175, Jr.); LT- Jay Swane (6-3, 280, Sr.); LG- Chad Zunich (6-3, 315, Jr.); C- Nate Brandt (5-10, 232, Sr.); RG- Michael Brown (5-8, 185, Sr.); RT- Hugh Montgomery (6-3, 220, Jr.).
Eagles: DT- Austin Fromm (5-9, 200, Sr.); DT- Frank Ackerman (5-11, 230, Jr.); DE- Kerschner ; DE- Cole Ulrich (6-1, 190, Sr.); LB- Alex Buckwalter (5-11, 180, Sr.); LB- Dalton Kern (5-9, 170, Sr.); LB- Tucker Lescoe (6-0, 180, So.); S- Janis; CB- Deering; CB- Moser; S- Shober.
Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich on what his team will need to fix from the first meeting heading into Friday’s showdown.
“They were more physical at the point of attack and executed better. There were no surprises. We will need to be more aggressive and execute better in all facets of the game.”
Gingrich on how his team was affected after falling behind early during the last meeting with Manheim.
“We are an option-based offense. We are not built for big deficits. We tried to be patient and continue to run the ball. But, at some point, we needed to throw the ball more than we are comfortable. We had some success, both in the air and on the ground, but it was not consistent.”
Gingrich on his concerns with the Barons heading into Friday.
“The (Barons) have no weaknesses. Special teams, offense, defense…they have it all. Size, speed, and great coaching…We are going to have to start better than we have in the last two meetings.”
Gingrich sizing up the way his team is playing going into the showdown.
“We are very happy with the way we are playing right now. We are excited for this opportunity. To play your biggest rival for a chance to go to the district finals…what a game.”
Gingrich on what the game comes down to on Friday.
“We need to get off to a better start and just execute as well as we can. It will be a 48-minute battle and we expect it to be very physical.”
Manheim Central Coach Mike Williams, whose team was held scoreless in the second half of the first meeting vs. Cocalico, and then again in the second half against Susquehanna Twp. this past Friday, on how to remedy that on Friday.
“It’s obviously a concern. Finishing a game is important. This happened several times where we started out really good and then kinda tailed off. Against Garden Spot, we had a good first and then tailed. But the defense did step it up in that fourth quarter when we needed to. We’re concerned, so our focus is working hard, talking to the players about finishing and doing some extra training, extra conditioning work this week in practice. It’s four quarters at this point in the season. If you don’t play four quarters, you’re going to be sitting at home for Thanksgiving.”
Williams on his players being overconfident after having already beaten Cocalico this season.
“I don’t think so. I think we’re keeping their heads on pretty good. Obviously, I don’t think any coach likes to play a team twice in a season. It does give the loser a little bit of an advantage. We were thinking the same thing last year when they beat us at our field and we were hoping that we’d get to see them in Districts, but it didn’t work out that way. The team that lost the first time does have an advantage. But I think we know the challenge ahead. We know Cocalico well and the great players that they have – Janis and Moser and others and the great rivalry that it is. They know they’ve got to be up. We played hard defensively and did a good job against the option. We must do the same thing again this week.
Williams on his concern for his pass defense, and whether he believes Cocalico will try to attack the Barons through the air.
“I think they would use play-action pass more than just drop-back passing, although they have been in the shotgun already. But I think they see that little weakness in us and we are planning to try to stop the run first. But we have to guard against any play-action pass. They did hit us for a reverse pass. They had a guy wide open on one of their touchdowns in the last game, so it’s just one of those cat-and-mouse games. They’re trying to figure out things that they might have had success with and where our weaknesses are and we’re doing the same thing with them. So we’ve got to play especially great against the run, but also guard against the play-action pass.”
Williams on what worked well in the first meeting that his team can utilize again this time around.
“We were able to run the ball pretty well and that really set the tone, made a couple of key play-action pass plays, so we caught them a little bit. But we figure that they’re going to try to load up on the run and try to stop that, just like we’re going to do the same thing to them. So like I said, it’s cat-and-mouse, but our strength has been running all season with two running backs – one over 1,000 (yards) and the other one close to 2,000 yards rushing. So it’s kinda no secret. We’re not going to go away and put five wides and throw the ball all over the place. We’re going to try to do what we do best and that’s what you have to guard against too. You got here to this point doing certain things and so it’s probably better to stick with your basics, rather than trying to out-scheme them.”
Williams on what the game comes down to on Friday.
“I think breaks and who makes the big plays. We had good special teams play last game and got field position a lot, so I think that’s going to be a crucial factor – field position, special teams, who makes the least mistakes. I think we’re both pretty even teams at this point. I think it’s going to be tight. If you make a big mistake, fumble the ball, do something screwy on special teams, don’t do your assignments… it’s going to be one of those things where one or two plays may affect the outcome.”