Barons back in the State semi-finals

By on November 30, 2018

Manheim Central’s Evan Hosler looks for running room during the PIAA District III 5A Championship held at Manheim Township High School in Neffsville, PA on November 23, 2018.

Manheim Central prepares to face District One champ Upper Dublin

For Manheim Central and Upper Dublin, only one win stands between each team and a trip to the PIAA State 5A championship game.

Who that will be gets decided this Friday at 7 p.m. at Wissahickon High School in Ambler.

With the unbeaten District Three champion Barons (13-0) looking to return to the State finals for the first time since 2009, they will have to get through a Cardinal team which knocked off West Chester Rustin 35-28 last Friday to capture the District One crown.

It was Upper Dublin’s second District One title in program history and their first since 2015.

Manheim Central was in this same spot a year ago, when they suffered a 31-28 loss to Gateway in the PIAA State 5A semi-finals in Altoona.

Senior running back/linebacker Tyler Flick was unavailable for that game due to injury, but he is healthy now and a big part of the Barons’ plans. He leads the rushing attack with 1,650 yards and 30 TD’s on the ground on 243 carries (6.8 avg), in addition to adding 115 tackle points on defense.

Junior QB Evan Simon is under center for the Barons and has completed 109-of-198 aerials for 2,319 yards and 26 TDs, with five interceptions, helping to lead a Baron attack which is averaging 395.5 yards and 43.2 points a game. Simon has also rushed 97 times for 531 yards and 11 TDs.

His favorite targets in the receiving corps are Colby Wagner (23-753, 11 TDs), Will Rivers (25-532, 5 TDs), Isaac Perron (24-369, 2 TDs) and Ben Wagner (16-344, 3 TDs).

Upper Dublin, meanwhile, is led by junior quarterback Mike Slivka, who has completed 109-of-172 passes for 1,704 yards and 18 touchdowns, with four interceptions.

Running backs Lucas Roselli (123-765, 14 TDs) and Mason Novak (138-594, 10 TDs), along with Slivka (81-356, 7 TDs) lead the ground game, while receivers Roselli (28-472, 4 TDs), Selvin Haynes (23-320, 5 TDs), and Dylan Zlotnikoff (19-303, 2 TDs) are Slivka’s favorite targets.

Lititz Record sports editor Bruce Morgan recently chatted with Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn and Upper Dublin boss Bret Stover, a former quarterback at Millersville University, about the upcoming game.

Bruce Morgan: Looking at your film from Friday night, what were you most pleased with about how your team played against Cocalico?

Manheim Central’s Jake Harbach finds some running room during the PIAA District III 5A Championship held at Manheim Township High School in Neffsville, PA on November 23, 2018.

Dave Hahn: I was most pleased with just defensively how we executed our game plan. I thought we were very disciplined in the run game. I thought our secondary guys were very disciplined for the most part in the passing game. I think (Cocalico) had a couple shots that they might have missed because we missed a guy going right down the middle on a play-action, but I think on the front half, we got a little pressure, so it kinda worked out for us so (Eagle QB Noah Palm) couldn’t hit that. But overall, they really just executed coach Waranavage’s game plan to a T. Offensively, again, I was really impressed. They kept seven in the box and they moved their Sam and their Will inside and really put pressure on our run game. And they forced us to the pass, and we knew that we wanted to throw on the outside against them. But we just executed that deep game pretty well.

BM: Coach Stover, looking at your team’s 35-28 win over West Chester Rustin last Friday, what were you most pleased about regarding your team’s play?

Bret Stover: The resiliency they showed. Twice, we lost a 14-point lead, but the offense found a way to put one more in the end zone for the lead and the defense was able to secure the victory with a goal line stand.

BM: Being 13-1 this season, what have been a couple keys to your success?

BS: Not being satisfied and working hard every day.

BM: Coach Hahn, what concerns you most about Upper Dublin quarterback Mike Slivka and their offense?

DH: I think they’re a toe-to-toe, here we come, smash-mouth football team. They seem to line up in a power-I most of the time and they want to just knock your teeth down your throat. So we’ve played in some physical games and I can’t imagine teams being much tougher than Cocalico, Cedar Cliff and Governor Mifflin. Those were three quality, good, tough opponents, and physical, but we’re going to get another one. Here we go.

BM: What about defensively? What does Upper Dublin look like on defense?

DH: They’re a 3-4 defense, they run a lot of man coverage, man-free in the secondary. They’ve got some speed, they have some size, so I think they’re going to be a good challenge for us. I think they’re a tough, physical team. A typical District One team — tough, physical. They look long and lean.

BM: Turning back to you coach Stover, what concerns you most about Manheim Central’s offense?

BS: Where do you start? They have so many weapons and their size is impressive on film. They get off the ball and their skill kids make big plays.

BM: How do you believe you match up against Manheim Central’s defense?

BS: They’re well-coached and the way they get to the football is really impressive.

BM: Coach Hahn, obviously, there’s a lot of excitement for you and the players. How do you manage this week leading up to the game with the emotions and everything else?

DH: I think it’s business as usual. We’re not going to change our routine, really. I think after this past week, three weeks in a row of playing some really physical games, we may just lighten up a little bit on the contact because I think at this point in the season, you know we can be physical. So I think that might be a change in our approach. But other than that, we’re going to continue with the same format in practice of what we do, just to keep them in that routine and keep them disciplined. And right now, the mindset is it’s another game. Here we go.

BM: What do you see as being the keys to victory on Friday night?

DH: Executing our game plan. If we can come through like we did this past week, understanding the game plan as well as we did and executing it like we did, I think that’s one big factor. Obviously, controlling the ball. We can’t give these guys the ball because they’re a ground control, pound the ball at you, and they’ll eat away the clock. So we’ve got to control the ball and not give them the ball that much. And win the turnover battle. It’s the same thing. Win the turnovers, be disciplined so you don’t have penalties.

BM: Coach Stover, what do you believe will be the keys for your team to come away with a win on Friday night?

BS: All three facets of the game will come into play Friday night and the turnover margin will have a say, as it always does.

BM: Coach Hahn, what are your thoughts about playing at a site so close to Upper Dublin?

DH: I don’t care where we play. I’m just happy we’re playing. I get it. It’s kinda bad timing for us. It’s District One, they get to hold it this year. It will be District Three next year. If somebody in District Three will be fortunate, it will be near their school. Let’s hope that that’s what happens next year. So whatever District Three team makes it next year, I just hope that they get the same advantage that (Upper Dublin) is going to get now. But everything I’m hearing about Wissahickon is it’s a great place to play, they’ve got plenty of seating. I’ve heard they’ve held some playoff games there this year already, so I don’t have a problem with it.

BM: It’s got to be a fun time for you knowing you’re just one win away from playing for the State championship.

DH: Absolutely, and that’s the only thing that we’re concerned about. I mean, if we’ve got to go play on the Turnpike, we’ll play on the Turnpike. If we’ve got to go play down at Wissahickon and the school’s only five minutes away (from Upper Dublin), then so be it. Then that’s what we’ve got to do. In the future, maybe it works out for somebody else or us or whoever that the game’s in District Three and it’s close for us, they have to travel. It’s just the luck of the draw and that’s what we’ve got this year, but we’re not complaining because we’re just happy to be in this situation and be playing another week.

 

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