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Warwick tames the Tornado
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
Between them, Warwick’s Alexander Mork and Jake Shillady stand at an average of nearly 6-foot-2 and tip the scales at a combined 443 pounds.
More than enough body mass to open up holes on the goal line, right?
Well, McCaskey isn’t going to argue.
With two of his best friends leading the way, senior back Tommy Garner scored on a pair of short TD runs out of the Wildcat formation in the first quarter last Friday night to give Warwick an advantage it never lost, and the Warriors went on to defeat the Red Tornado 27-7 in their Homecoming game at rain-soaked Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz.
"Mork and Shillady are both big boys, and we had a real basic package of (the Wildcat) in tonight," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "We only had a handful of plays and we put them in this week because we’d decided that if we get to a certain place, we’re just going straight ahead. If we’re at the six or seven-yard line, first-and-goal, it comes down to two yards a play for four plays to put the ball in the end zone, and we’re pretty sure we can get that done with them."
Warwick’s (1-3 L-L, 3-4 overall) first league win of the season was a long time coming. In their first three Section games against Cedar Crest, Manheim Township and Lancaster Catholic, the Warriors held the lead against each opponent, but couldn’t finish them out, partly due to some issues in the red zone. On Friday night, they could finally celebrate a victory at the Red Tornado’s (0-4 L-L, 0-7 overall) expense.
"As much as anything, we came into tonight thinking we’ve got to win a football game," Locker said. "We played well at times for three weeks in a row and had nothing to show for it. So it was kinda important that we got a ‘W.’ The kids need some self-confidence. They need to enjoy what they’re doing and losses are not particularly enjoyable. So it was really important for us to get a win tonight."
The defense certainly did its share for Warwick in the win. Tyler Melhorn recorded a team-high nine tackle points and the Warriors forced four turnovers from McCaskey, including picks by Chris Borg, Jordan Cipalla and Garner and a fumble recovery by David Weaver, to improve their turnover ratio to a plus-7. The Red Tornado managed just 49 rushing yards while being tackled eight times for a loss of yards.
"They did an amazing job," Locker said of his defensive unit. "They made it difficult for McCaskey to run. We basically were saying, ‘If you can’t throw on us, you’re going to struggle tonight.’"
While the Red Tornado struggled to move the ball on the ground, Warwick rushed for 216 yards and four scores in the wet conditions, led by senior running back Gabe Taylor, who rambled for 105 yards on 20 carries.
"Gabe did a good job running the ball tonight," Locker said.
Garner, of course, gave the Warriors rushing attack a spark as well, following a couple of bruising backfield mates in Mork and Shillady on his way to a two-yard TD run to open the scoring. Kobi Biemesderfer’s first of three PAT’s made the score 7-0 with 5:47 left in the first quarter.
That drive was set up when McCaskey fumbled the ball away on a punt return, recovered by Weaver, and it was one of three Warwick scoring drives of 28 yards or less.
A botched McCaskey punt snap, with the Red Tornado’s Max Chalfont falling on the ball at the 18-yard line following a 3-and-out, gave the Warriors excellent field position for their next possession. Seven plays later, Garner went up and over the pile on a one-yard TD dive, extending Warwick’s lead to 14-0 with :22.4 left in the first.
"(The defense) gave us a bunch of short fields and fortunately, we took advantage of enough of them to put 27 points on the board," Locker said. "The weather conditions were not particularly great to do some things. We didn’t throw as much as we have been and the weather did have something to do with that."
The Warriors ran 36 offensive plays in the first half to McCaskey’s 12, and when Shillady plowed into the end zone from four yards out with 4:24 left in the half, capping a 12-play, 70-yard scoring drive, Warwick took a commanding 20-0 advantage.
After a scoreless third quarter, Cipalla’s pick, followed by a 22-yard return, put the Warriors in business at the McCaskey 28-yard line. Warwick running back David Weaver (11 carries, 45 yards) then rumbled for a three-yard TD run with 7:31 left in the fourth to put the Warriors up 27-0. Quarterback Matt Pennypacker’s (5-11-0, 69 yards) 18-yard toss to Borg put Warwick on the doorstep for its fourth score of the night. That was one of two receptions that Borg had in the game, with top receivers Austin Myers and Anthony Fatjo both sidelined due to injury.
"It hurts a lot (not having Myers and Fatjo) because that’s two quality high school wide receivers," Locker said. "I feel really bad for Myers. This is two years in a row he’s not gotten a full season in and I don’t think people understand how good a receiver that kid is. And Fatjo’s just a spark. I mean, he just has a natural spark to him, he’s good on both sides of the ball, and Myers is too. Losing your two top wideouts is kind of a kick. So we’re trying to adjust and we’ll try to figure some stuff out."
At that point, the only question remaining was whether the Warriors’ defense could nail down a shutout. But McCaskey answered with its best drive of the night, highlighted by Kyaire Bynum’s 53-yard pass to Pedro Martinez which put the Red Tornado deep in Warwick’s territory. Four plays later, Tyree Ballenger punched it in on a four-yard run to complete the scoring with 5:27 left in the game.
The Warriors threatened to score one more time, driving from their own 44 to the Red Tornado five-yard line, mostly behind Taylor, who ran the ball five times for 51 yards. Biemesderfer’s 22-yard field goal attempt with 2:34 left was wide right, but no matter – the Warriors had worked the clock and removed all doubt in the outcome.
"He did a nice job of running the ball when we needed to eat clock," Locker said. "The bottom line was, OK, so we missed the field goal, we didn’t score, but we were eating clock and we were going to end the game. So (Gabe) ran real hard tonight."
With the win over McCaskey behind them, the Warriors will now prepare for a tough three-game season-ending stretch in which they travel to Penn Manor this Friday, then host Hempfield on Oct. 25 before taking on Wilson in the regular-season finale Nov. 1 in West Lawn.
"We’re at the point now where we’ve got to just start winning football games, which is easier said than done considering the part of the schedule we have left is three really, really good football teams," Locker said. "But at times this year, we’ve played quality football against quality opponents. It’s just a matter of putting a whole game together and taking advantage of some things. Once again in the red zone, we didn’t finish some stuff. We missed two field goals tonight and we made some mistakes when we had opportunities to really put the game away. So we’ve obviously got a lot to work on."
More WARRIORS, page B-12