Warwick’s semi-final win is a D-light TD’s by Glass, Minnich support C Red team’s playoff shutout
By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer
If there was a game that the Warwick Midget C Red football team would like to have back this season, it was an opening-week 20-6 loss to Manheim Township in September.
They will have a chance to get some revenge this Saturday.
With a lot more at stake.
Behind a 12-0 shutout of Willow Street last Saturday at Grosh Field in Lititz in the playoff semi-finals, the Warriors advanced to the championship game against the Blue Streaks (a 27-0 winner over Elizabethtown), which will be played at Manheim Central at 4 p.m.
"For the kids, it’s huge because of all the work and all of the effort they’ve put in," Warwick coach Tom Rice said. "The encouragement all year long is to do your best and to keep striving. And for them to be able to see the results, I think that’s just huge. For me, I just love watching the kids. I love them being able to come out here and just create that effect out on the field for themselves. It’s huge for them. I’m more happy for them than I am for myself. We go again another week."
Indeed they do, and the Warriors (9-2 overall) will be very happy if they can produce another effort like the one they had against Willow Street.
Trey Glass and Ethan Minnich scored touchdowns on impressive ball-control drives by the offense and the Warriors’ defense combined to allow Willow Street just 10 yards of total offense, including minus-two in a dominant second half. In two playoff wins, including a 24-0 shutout of Sertoma, Warwick has allowed no points.
"We were very pleased in terms of their effort," Rice said. "They just constantly do not give up."
Although the Wolverines started with strong field position on their opening drive, Minnich’s fourth-down stop of QB Sean McTaggart (10 carries, 14 yards) got the ball for the Warriors’ offense at their own 40-yard line.
From there, Warwick put together an 11-play, 60-yard scoring drive to take a lead it never relinquished. The Warriors used five different ball carriers on the drive, led by Minnich, Cayden Rihn and Glass, who gained 13, 12 and 11 yards, respectively. David Hnasko also added a hard-fought eight-yard carry, as Warwick converted on a third-down play and a fourth-down play. Finally, Glass caught a swing pass from QB Justin Gerhart (2-3-0, 47 yards) in the right flat, cut past two Wolverine defenders at the 20-yard line and scored from 31 yards out on the final play of the first quarter.
"(Trey)’s got quick little feet," Rice said. "That’s why I call him grasshopper because if you get him out in the open, it’s very difficult to figure out where he’s going. But he’s going there fast."
Although the Warriors’ were stopped on the PAT, they led 6-0 after chewing more than five minutes off the clock behind an offensive line which included Alex Epple, Ethan Christi, Zavier Cosme, Tommy Grow, Caleb Goss and tight ends Kai Cipalla and William Gonzalez.
"Our line coaches and the boys who play on the line, we’ve told them all year long, they are the most important part of the offensive team and they showed it today," Rice said. "They completely controlled the line of scrimmage."
Two possessions later, Warwick got the ball back with just :29.5 left on the clock, but still drove inside the Wolverines’ 25-yard line after Minnich made a highlight-reel catch on a pass by Gerhart, who shared the QB duties with Tristen Horst. Minnich outleaped Willow Street defenders Bradey Cunningham and Timothy Martin and grabbed the ball between his legs and behind his back for a first down. Time expired after the next play, but the Warriors carried a 6-0 edge into the break.
That would prove to be too much for Willow Street to overcome, as Warwick’s defense allowed just one first down in the game. In the second half, the Warriors’ offense ran 23 plays to the Wolverines’ seven. Hnasko and Gonzalez both stopped reverse plays in the backfield for losses.
"Those 11 players, when they’re in there and they are on task and they are staying focused to what their jobs are and listening to the coaches, I mean, they are just dominating," Rice said. "All ends are containing, all tackles are charging, linebackers are where they need to be. It’s really just very neat to watch. Willow Street tried a couple of reverses and the kids stayed home, there was nowhere to go, and that’s just smart football. That’s just intelligent football. And that’s what we love about it."
In addition to making their presence felt on defense, Minnich ran for a game-high 79 yards on 14 carries, while Glass chipped in with 40 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Those two got the bulk of the workload on an impressive ball possession drive late in the third quarter and into the fourth to help Warwick put it away. Eventually, with 1:55 left in the game, Minnich took an inside handoff, bounced it right and scored on a three-yard run to cap a 13-play drive, stretching the Warriors’ lead to 12-0.
"We mix (the play-calling) around when we can (to get different people involved)," Rice said. "It depends on what the defense is giving us. We like to have options. Today they were giving us those inside off-tackle holes and that’s where we were sending Ethan and Trey."
They are hoping to have some options this Saturday when they go for their 10th win of the season against Manheim Township.
"They get stronger as the games go on," Rice said, "and they just keep wanting to play football. It’s an amazing thing to watch. It is." More WARRIORS, page B-8