Barons blank the Indians in opener, 44-0

By on August 29, 2018
Manheim Central junior wide receiver Colby Wagner looks a pass from quarterback Evan Simon into his hands in last Friday’s 44-0 season- opening win over Susquehanna Township. Photo by Alan Johnson

Manheim Central junior wide receiver Colby Wagner looks a pass from quarterback Evan Simon into his hands in last Friday’s 44-0 season-opening win over Susquehanna Township. Photo by Alan Johnson

Starting the season off on the right foot with a big 44-0 win over District Three power Susquehanna Township was all the reward Manheim Central needed last Friday night.

Afterward, though, the Barons, accompanied at midfield by their cheerleaders and the Manheim Central marching band, also received the bonus of a nice trophy, presented to them by CBS 21.

“It was a Friday Night Rivals trophy which CBS 21 has,” Baron coach Dave Hahn said.

It was Will Rivers, a senior wide receiver/defensive back for Manheim Central, who accepted the trophy on behalf of the team.

By the way, Rivers also was the one whose actions figured prominently on two plays that set the tone throughout the game.

With Susquehanna Township already down 28-0, the Indians desperately needed points on their first possession of the third quarter. They set themselves back more than ten yards with a holding call on second down. On third-and-22 at their own 13, Township QB Rahsaan Carlton dropped back to pass. Rivers blitzed and reached Carlton unimpeded. The collision knocked Carlton down and sent the ball skyward. It eluded several players and reached the end zone, where it was recovered for a safety.

The Barons now led 30-0.

Earlier, just before halftime, Rivers set the 28-0 halftime score when he intercepted Carlton and returned it for a touchdown.

“I saw that the receiver was not in position to catch the ball,” Rivers recalled. “I caught it and (looked) for any block I can get, which came from Tyler Flick. I saw green grass from there.”

“That’s just a classic drill that we always do in practice,” Flick said of the block. “When we get the ball, we’ve got to block and get in front of them for the touchdown. It’s just the drill we run.”

On offense, Flick (19 carries, 122 yards) ran for 39 yards in the opening drive. Evan Simon (6-of-13, 159 yards) dropped back twice and completed both passes to keep the Indians off balance defensively, but Flick needed little help there. On a run from the Susquehanna 45, he managed to push two defenders out of his way before going out of bounds for 14 yards. He completed the drive by scoring from three yards out with 7:54 remaining in the first quarter.

“We were running power there,” Flick said. “The line did an amazing job on the touchdown run and we got it right in there.”

The Barons’ defense opened the contest by forcing two three-and-out possessions and gave the offense an excellent chance from the Susquehanna 7-yard line. During a rare loss of yardage run for Flick, Simon said coach Hahn noticed the backside of the play was wide open.

“We ran a play to the right with Flick and realized no one’s on the back side to stop it,” Simon said. “Coach Hahn said, ‘Run a play to the right and don’t tell anyone that you’re keeping it.’”

Simon did as instructed and had most of the left side of the field to himself. He encountered one defender near the goal line but still reached the end zone for the 14-0 lead.

The Indians seemed ready to gain momentum on their next two possessions but sacks stopped each possession. On their last possession, Carlton completed a pass between two defenders to Jecquest Garced for a 33-yard gain. Rivers tackled Garced and made the adjustments following the play that paid dividends later in the quarter.

“I just need to make sure I get some more depth to make sure he can’t get behind me,” Rivers said. “That’s what I told our other cornerbacks, Wagner and Colby. Stay back, they have some speed.”

Three plays later, the defense sacked Carlton on third-and-three to halt the drive.

The offense stalled uncharacteristically following the Indians’ punt but the Baron defense again sacked Carlton. This Susquehanna punt set the Barons on their own 40 and Flick revived the offense with six consecutive runs for 31 yards.

“He was a workhorse for us last year and it looks like where he left off last year,” Hahn said. “We want to keep him healthy but you’ve got to go with what you’ve got. He’s what we’ve got.”

A fumble set Central back seven yards but a Simon pass regained the lost ground on the next play. On fourth-and-six from the Susquehanna Township 30-yard line, Simon dropped and quickly sent a pass to Evan Hosler. Hosler caught the ball nearly in stride and shed a tackle for the touchdown.

“When we were lined up, I realized the defense wasn’t lined up yet,” Simon said. “They were confused on our line-up. We hurried up the snap. Sure enough, the rover, the linebacker, high-lowed it so I threw where he wasn’t.”

Rivers’ two plays set the score at 30-0 early in the third and the Baron never allowed the Indians any hope. Without being asked, Simon referred to last year’s opener and expressed satisfaction in the Barons’ resolve this year.

“This time last year, we started off 28-0 against Warwick and didn’t finish all four quarters, so it’s a relief that this year, we went all four quarters,” the junior quarterback said.

Despite a running clock, the Barons managed two more scores in the third quarter. With the help of his line, Flick powered through the middle of the Indians’ defense for a 50-yard TD run after the free kick following the safety. Simon followed with another scoring pass, this one covering 60 yards, to Colby Wagner.

The key to the victory, according to Flick, was in their preparation.

“We don’t take any opponent lightly,” he said. “We go in like they’re the best team in the nation.”

Coach Hahn concurred.

“I agree with Tyler,” he said. “We practice as though they’re the best team. Our kids work hard. We don’t give them a break, but there’s a reward. We work as hard as we do to get the reward later. Tonight’s the reward.”

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