A grand Grosh Field showdown

By on September 5, 2019

In battle of unbeatens, Warwick looks to beat Manheim Central for the first time since 1983

Looking for a premier L-L League football game to watch this Friday night?

Warwick’s Kai Cpalla

Well, look no further than Grosh Field in Lititz.

That’s where Warwick will host back-yard rival Manheim Central in a non-league battle of 2-0 teams.

This will be the 59th all-time meeting between the two teams, and the Barons &tstr; riding a 23-game winning streak which started in 1984 &tstr; currently hold a 38-15-5 advantage in the series.

For the Warriors to beat Manheim Central for the first time since 1983, they will have to slow down senior QB Evan Simon, a Rutgers University recruit who holds the Barons’ career record in TD passes. This season, Simon is 17-of-43 for 226 yards, with one touchdown and two INTs, in addition to carrying the ball 32 times for 89 yards and a TD.

Through the air, his favorite targets are seniors Ben (4-103) and Colby Wagner (7-96, TD).

Simon, from his safety position, also has a team-high 28 tackle points to lead a Barons’ defense which has surrendered an average of only 10.5 points through its first two games &tstr; a 16-7 win over Susquehanna Township and a 24-14 victory over Hempfield.

Warwick’s offense has its own dual-threat QB in junior Joey McCracken, who is 31-of-40 for 610 yards and eight TDs, in addition to rushing for 101 yards on 10 carries in the Warriors’ first games &tstr; a 61-0 shutout of Ephrata and a 56-13 victory over Garden Spot.

In all, the Warriors’ offense is averaging 502.5 yards and 58.5 points per game through two weeks.

Behind an offensive line led by 6-foot-8, 272-pound Nolan Rucci, junior running back Colton Miller has a team-high 121 rushing yards on 14 carries (8.6 avg) and five TDs, while junior Caleb Schmitz (9-187, 3 TDs), senior Justin Gerhart (7-136, TD) and senior Conor Adams (8-124, 2 TDs) are McCracken’s top receivers. Unfortunately, reigning Section One Wide Receiver of the Year and All-State selection Trey Glass suffered a season-ending injury in the Warriors’ week one win over Ephrata.

Defensively, the Warriors are led by senior linebackers Jonathan Forbes and David Hnasko, with 29 and 23 tackle points, respectively, and Schmitz leads the team with two INTs.

As a team, Warwick is allowing just 6.5 points and 261.5 yards per game.

Bruce Morgan: Coach Hahn, what are your thoughts overall about Warwick?

Dave Hahn: Very talented team. They have a lot of nice skill position kids on both sides of the ball. They fly around the field and I think defensively, they’re pretty sure tacklers, and offensively, I think they’ve got a bunch of play-makers.

BM: Coach Locker, what are your overall thoughts about Manheim Central?

Bob Locker: Defensively, they’re a very, very good football team. Their down people, Kolk is in there and (Jake) Harbach plays D-end, they’re solid. The linebackers are very good, and in the secondary, the Wagner kids are excellent football players. So they’re a real good defensive football team. Offensively, obviously they have a Division-One quarterback, and he’s elusive. They’re willing to run him, so that makes him dangerous. He’s a true dual-threat quarterback. He’s very good running the football. So that’s something we need to look at.

BM: It seems like defensively, they make key plays when they have to get them, like in their game against Hempfield, recovering a fumble at the 15 to set up their first score, or getting the interception to end the game.

BL: They’re just an outstanding football program and they have a mindset that they make plays when they need to and when they have to.

BM: Coach Hahn, what kind of challenges does Warwick quarterback Joey McCracken present for your team?

DH: He’s a good quarterback. He knows where he wants to go with the ball, he seems pretty confident in just his presence about him. He’s very confident in what he’s doing, so any time you face a quarterback who is well-versed in their offense and knows what they want to do, that becomes a challenge because they play a little bit quicker, they know where they want to go with the ball, so they make better decisions. So that becomes a challenge then.

Manheim Central’s offensive line

BM: It seems like your two teams mirror each other a little bit in the fact that both have a talented quarterback and both have a talented group of skill kids surrounding them. Would you agree with that?

DH: Yeah, I would say that that is probably the strength of both of our teams.

BM: With Trey Glass out with an injury, is there somebody in Warwick’s receiver corps or their running back corps that concerns you more than others?

DH: To be honest with you, what I think is even more concerning is they’re all equally as good. Like, you’ve got the Gerhart kid, you’ve got Schmitz, you’ve got Conor Adams. They’ve got all those guys that are good. And I’ll tell you what, I think all of them complement each other. They know what they want to do, they know why they’re doing what they’re doing, which I think makes them very effective. So I think that kinda makes them all pretty dangerous.

BM: Coach Locker, how much better is Manheim Central quarterback Evan Simon now than last year? From what you’ve seen, how has he developed?

BL: He’s bigger, stronger, a little quicker. He seems willing to run more, and like I said, he’s a very dangerous runner and his read are better, his arm is a little stronger, so he’s just a complete football player.

BM: I know you talked a little bit about the Wagner kids, but as far as their skill group as a whole, what kind of challenges do they present for you?

BL: Containing Simon is number one because of all the things he can do. He looks to the Wagners when he wants to throw the ball. Their running backs have been a little bit by a committee, so I’m not sure exactly where that’s headed. But it doesn’t really matter. In terms of whoever they plug in at running back, their basic run concept is something they do extremely well.

BM: Do you feel like you match up well with them on their lines?

BL: At this point, I like our kids against anybody. I think we’ve got good football players. They’ve got good football players, we’ve got good football players. I think it’s going to be a matter of execution. So I don’t think we’re walking into this thinking we can’t. I definitely believe we’re going to walk into this thinking we can.

BM: Coach Hahn, you have some big guys on the line, in addition to guys like Troy Kolk and Nolan Weaver back. What are your expectations of what could happen on the line in this game?

DH: Well, we made progress from week one to two, which was good. We needed to. In week one, we gave up six sacks, which half of those were given up by our line, the other half were given up by our backs. And this week we didn’t give up any sacks, but we still got hit. So offensively, I like (Warwick’s) defensive ends. They’ve got size in Nolan Rucci and then they’ve got number 80, Thatcher Miller, who is a returner. He rotated in and played last year. I think he’s a pretty aggressive kid that’s going to be a challenge for our offensive line. And then defensively, I think our line is pretty well versed and can be a challenge for their offensive line too. So I think both of our offensive lines are going to really have to step up and they’re going to be challenged.

BM: Looking between their three levels of defense, is there a strength in that group?

DH: I think Warwick’s back half is really good. They fly around and the one thing I’ve been very impressed with Warwick last year and again this year is they’re sure-tacklers. They kinda remind me of wrestlers. They’re shooting in and they’re throwing legs to get the guy down. Whatever they’ve got to do, they’re doing to get the guy down, and I think that’s a credit to Warwick’s coaching staff and getting their guys to tackle and take guys down.

BM: The last time Warwick beat Manheim Central was 1983. With it being so many years, do you worry that it’s been so many years or are you confident because it’s been so many years?

DH: I’ll be honest with you. It’s not something we worry about. We don’t hang our hat on that at all. It’s in the past. This year is a new year and we want to go 1-0 this week and we want to beat Warwick.

BM: What are the keys for you on Friday night?

DH: The keys for us are continued improvement. We need to again see a big jump from week two to week three now because this is kinda winding down pre-season of non-league games and you’re getting yourself ready for the league coming up here. So we’ve got to see this big jump in all three phases of the game. We’ve got to eliminate some of the mental errors. We’ve got to take care of the ball. Last year when we played Warwick, we gave them the ball too many times and we were fortunate to still be able to come out with the victory. But we can’t do that this year. I think they’re very opportunistic and we’ve got to make sure we take the ball and don’t give it to them. I think that’s going to be real important for the game.

BM: Coach Locker, it’s been since 1983 that Warwick has defeated Manheim Central. Do you feel like with your success over the past three years, maybe you guys are better equipped for that challenge right now?

BL: We had opportunities the last three years. We just failed to execute when we needed to, failed to finish games. I think our kids just need to understand that they have the potential to go out and beat Manheim.

BM: What are the keys for you on Friday night?

BL: Limit mistakes and play clean football. No turnovers. We need to execute and we need to play a very good football game, as close to mistake-free as possible.

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