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Warriors and Barons ready to write another chapter in rivalry
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
One year ago, the score in Manheim Central’s 41-13 victory over Warwick didn’t tell the whole story.
For 24 minutes, the outcome was still very much in doubt, with the host Barons leading just 14-13 going to the locker room.
But then Manheim Central wore down Warwick in the second half. Several of the Warriors’ players left the game due to cramps. Eventually, the Barons’ won for the 17th straight time over their back-yard rivals, improving their overall record against Lititz/Warwick to 33-15-5.
This Friday night at 7 p.m., the two squads will meet for the 54th time in series history – this time at Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz. If Warwick hopes to beat Manheim Central for the first time since 1983 (a 14-0 shutout), coach Bob Locker knows that his team will need to play for a full 48 minutes.
"Manheim just flat-out wore us down in the second half," he said. "The thing we try to take away from last year is, ‘Are you prepared? Do you understand what it’s going to feel like to play an entire football game, not part of a football game?’ You can say, ‘Well, it was 14-13 at half,’ but the final score wasn’t pretty. They pretty well lit us up in the second half. So we’ve got to do a better job."
Manheim Central enters this year’s non-league opener with championship aspirations, bringing back 17 letter-winners from 2012. Warwick, meanwhile, is a team that Barons’ skipper Mike Williams describes as being "much improved from what we saw last year."
At stake in Friday’s showdown is that both teams want to start the season 1-0.
Bragging rights is another key factor.
"There’s a lot of things riding on the game, so I’m sure Warwick will be up for it," Williams said. "That’s always a big rival game – you always worry about that kind of stuff."
Warwick and Manheim Central each have dangerous offensive weapons returning to help lead them into battle, along with play-makers on the defensive side of the ball.
Section Two First-Team All-Star QB Colin Fry is back under center for the Barons after throwing for 2,114 yards and 22 TD’s in 2012. The Section’s Wide Receiver of the Year Taylor Geib (53 receptions, 1.063 yards) leads a talented corps of wide receivers, while running backs Ian Hanselman and Marc Royer, who combined for 1,612 rushing yards last year, and fullback Justin Moreno will lead the ground attack.
Locker said his team’s first concern will be trying to stop the run.
"It’s only two scrimmages, but they seem to be more designed to run the ball this year than I think they did last year," he remarked. "They have a couple of good running backs. I think Royer took some touches, Hanselman is a real good back, and the fullback, Moreno, is a good lead blocker. They have a very, very solid offensive line. The other thing they do off that is they play-action real well and Geib at tight end runs excellent patterns. I just think first thing’s first, we need to try to stop the run."
Williams acknowledged that his Barons are hoping that their running game will be a team strength this fall.
"We would like to establish the run," he said. "If you can run the football, it makes life a lot simpler, so that’s what we’ll try to do I believe."
With three receivers back who combined for 68 catches and 875 yards last year in Tommy Garner, Anthony Fatjo and Austin Myers, the Warriors plan to throw the ball a bit more behind first-year starting QB Matt Pennypacker. Not to be forgotten, however, is senior running back Gabe Taylor, who had 726 rushing yards and four TD’s in 2012.
"They have a nice spread offense and some good receivers," Williams said, "so that’s a little bit different from their overall philosophy. The quarterback does a nice job. I like three or four of their receivers, the running back runs hard, they’ve got some nice linemen. (Austin) Maguire is a nice ball player, so they just have some tough kids – typical Warwick tough kids."
For the Warriors, avoiding third-and-long situations will be key against a Manheim Central defense which returns three of its top five tacklers from last year in Rey Lasanta (125), Hanselman (105) and Geib (89).
"We have to be systematic about what we do – get positive yardage on first downs, mix things up and not put ourselves in tough situations," Locker said. "Our goal is to be a little bit more of a balanced offense this year. We have not hidden the fact that we think we’re going to throw the ball a little bit more. So we’ll try to stay balanced."
When the Barons have the ball, Williams is expecting the unexpected from Warwick’s defense.
"Warwick has been known to use defenses during the scrimmages and then change the defense for the first game," he said, "so that’s a little bit of a concern trying to figure out what they’re going to do."
The challenge for the Warriors’ defense will be keeping the Barons from scoring in the 40’s as they did in last year’s game.
"I know this – we can’t give up five, six touchdowns and win a football game," Locker said. "We have to do a better job defensively than we did a year ago and a little better offensively. We have to keep them in the 20’s, I would imagine. But even then, that means we’ve got to put points up on the board. I’m not a prognosticator. I just know that we need to do a better job defensively this year than we did last year."
The "experts" will have Warwick listed as the underdog in this Friday’s game. But Locker likes that his squad is pretty healthy, they have tremendous attitudes and they’ve had some great practices recently.
The fact that the Warriors are also playing on their home turf on Friday night won’t be overlooked either. Asked if that will make a difference, Locker said, "It has to. I mean, this is our field, it’s our crowd, it’s the home opener. I hope the stands are filled. We need the stands to be filled. We need our people to come out and get behind our kids and get off to a good start."
More PREVIEW, page B-3