Weaver gives Warwick boost in 35-16 win over Buckskins
BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor
, Staff Writer
David Weaver might have been an unknown to Warwick football fans prior to last Friday.
But he’s not anymore.
In his varsity debut against Conestoga Valley, the junior running back dashed for a game-high 100 yards and two touchdowns, helping the Warriors claim a 35-16 victory at Joseph Grosh Field in Lititz.
Weaver’s average of 8.3 yards per carry on 12 attempts was certainly a lift for Warwick.
"He had an opportunity to touch the ball on Friday night and made the most out of it," Warwick coach Bob Locker said. "He did a nice job of staying behind his blockers to the point of attack and then went north-south. The kid’s busted his butt since last year to this year to get ready and the opportunity came up Friday night and he took full advantage of it."
Senior running back Gabe Taylor added 84 yards and a TD on 21 carries, while senior fullback Jake Shillady ran seven times for 42 yards and a score in the attack.
Coming off a game in which they were held held to minus-seven rushing yards in a 33-7 loss to Manheim Central, the Warriors (1-1 overall) established their running game against the Buckskins (0-2), gaining 225 yards on the ground.
Moving 6-foot-3, 223-pound Shillady to the fullback position and often battering CV out of the I-formation was a key plus in Warwick’s improvement rushing the ball.
"We kinda went into it wanting to run the football," Locker said, "because that’s something we’re going to have to be able to do. That was a real positive aspect. I thought the offensive line did a significantly better job this week. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Manheim Central is a pretty physical group of people. But we were happy with the improvement we saw running the football."
That improvement was evident from the get-go. After quarterback Matt Pennypacker extended the Warriors’ opening drive with a third-down completion to Anthony Fatjo, Weaver followed Shillady’s kick-out block on an off-tackle power play, rambling 39 yards to paydirt with 9:32 left in the first quarter. Kobi Biemesderfer, who was a perfect 5-for-5 in PAT’s, made the score 7-0.
The Warriors ended up scoring on their first four possessions, and they got the ball back in excellent field position after Tommy Garner intercepted a tipped pass by Buckskins’ QB Brendon Martin at the CV 34.
"Garner is a good athlete," Locker said, "and we say, ‘Good players make plays,’ and he made the play and that was helpful."
Aided by a third-down pass interference penalty, Warwick scored on a six-play drive, with Weaver doing the honors on a one-yard run, giving the Warriors a 14-0 lead with 3:32 left in the opening quarter.
"He did a real nice job," Locker said of Weaver. "His effort certainly warrants continued touches of the football. Right now, we’ve got two fullbacks and a couple of running backs. There’s going to be nothing wrong with spreading it around, trying to keep people fresh because Shillady and (fullback Alexander) Mork are both playing defense."
Behind Maldonado (5-62 rushing) and Joel Lopez (10-61 rushing), the Buckskins broke a couple of big plays on their next series and settled for a 25-yard goal by Daulton Martin which cut Warwick’s lead to 14-3 with 14.2 seconds left in the opening quarter.
But the Warriors answered in quick-strike fashion. On the first play of the second quarter, the Buckskins’ safeties bit on Pennypacker’s fake to Austin Myers on a slip screen, opening the door for Garner, who was wide open and caught a 60-yard TD pass to make it 21-3 with 11:50 to go in the half.
"Myers did a real good job of selling the slip and Garner did a real nice job of not coming out of it too soon, so it was a nice play," Locker said.
A short time later, Warwick was knocking on the door again after dropping Bucks’ punter Lance Buckley for a 14-yard loss at the CV 13 following a low snap. They capitalized when Shillady bulled into the end zone on a six-yard run on a fullback trap, extending the advantage to 28-3.
"Anytime you get a short field like that, you need to take advantage of it," Locker said. "We had a real hard time running the ball the week before, so I thought the running game improved dramatically. We changed some things up a little bit. We moved Shillady to fullback and he had a nice game. He ran really hard and he’s a good lead blocker."
Meanwhile, after managing just 82 yards and four first downs on their first three drives, the Buckskins capitalized on their Wing-T offense on their next possession. Maldonado got the ball on a fake sweep, handed to Justin Norman, who found daylight on the counter and raced 65 yards to the end zone to cut their deficit to 28-10 with 8:39 remaining in the half.
Still, the Warriors appeared to be in solid shape when they marched the ball deep into CV territory on their next two series. But Taylor had a fumble and Pennypacker threw an interception, as Warwick came up empty.
"I thought we played real good football for about a quarter and a half," Locker said. "We got a little sloppy at the end of the first half. We could have been up more than we were. In the second half, we calmed down a little bit, but we made too many mistakes, all in all."
Buckskins’ wideout Jamaar Parker made no mistake on an aerial from freshman QB Grant Stoltzfus midway through the third. Despite excellent coverage by Warwick d-back Luke Newberry, Parker made a one-handed grab on the right sideline and scored on a 46-yard pass play with 5:02 left in the stanza. Fatjo blocked the PAT, but CV climbed to 28-16.
"Luke Newberry had him perfectly covered," Locker said. "There was nothing he could do. It was just one of those plays where you’re like, ‘Hey, nice football play.’ And they hit a counter in the first half for the other score. Outside of those two plays, I thought the defense played a good football game."
The Bucks would get no closer and Taylor scored on a three-yard run with 3:55 left in the fourth quarter for Warwick, capping a 10-play 56-yard drive to close out the scoring.
Warwick returns to action this Friday when they travel to Ephrata to face their back-yard rival in the annual battle for the George Male Trophy.
More WARRIORS, page B-8