Barons outduel the Pioneers

By on October 15, 2014

Camacho rushes for 4 TDs

Keep Lampeter-Strasburg’s high-powered offense in the 30’s and then try to outscore QB Bear Shank and Co.

That was the goal of Manheim Central last Friday night in a first-place showdown last Friday in Lampeter.

They surpassed expectations.

Powered by a smothering second-half defense and Damon Camacho’s four rushing TD’s and 154 yards on the ground, the Barons earned their fifth win in a row and took sole possession of the top spot in Section Two with a convincing 56-28 victory over the host Pioneers. Overall, Manheim Central gained 352 yards on the ground, while stuffing L-S for just eight and sacking Shank six times.

Manheim Central junior linebacker Craig McKee follows a convoy of blockers while returning an interception 14 yards for a third-quarter TD in the Barons’ 56-28 win over Lampeter-Strasburg last Friday.

Manheim Central junior linebacker Craig McKee follows a convoy of blockers while returning an interception 14 yards for a third-quarter TD in the Barons’ 56-28 win over Lampeter-Strasburg last Friday.

“I didn’t know if we could get to 56, but I figured it was going to be a shootout,” Manheim Central boss Mike Williams said. “We didn’t feel their defense was as solid as some of the defenses they’ve had in the past, so we figured we could score.”

Central’s defense, meanwhile, came into the game as the top-ranked unit in the Section, and they flexed their muscles in the second half, holding L-S to minus-2 yards rushing and continually harassing Shank in the pocket. The Pioneers’ star signal-caller ended the game 18-of-33 for 301 yards, but he was just 5-of-15 for 105 yards and one INT following the intermission.

“Shank’s a good quarterback. It was a real tough week of practice,” linebacker Craig McKee said, “but we did good on defense all week and I guess we stepped up. Our defense did pretty good.”

Still, even after Manheim Central took a 35-21 lead in the third quarter, nobody on the Barons’ sideline was taking anything for granted. Williams and his assistants wouldn’t allow it. They no doubt remembered the Pioneers scoring two touchdowns in the final 64 seconds to pull off a miracle 45-42 win over upstart Solanco just three weeks earlier.

“We talked to our kids all up the sideline, ‘Don’t let up because they’re a comeback team,’” Williams said. “So I think that drove our kids to just play hard for 48 minutes.”

When McKee picked off a Shank aerial and returned it 14 yards to the house with 1:02 left in the third, that extended Manheim Central’s advantage to 42-21 and it was never close after that.

“Coach was telling us all week, ‘You’ve got to work on jamming stuff,’ and I saw the big tight end coming across and I jammed him and I then I looked back, I saw the ball there, and I just grabbed it out of the air,” said McKee, who finished with a team-high 19 tackle points starting in place of the injured Justin Moreno. “I looked up and it was all green. I saw a bunch of white shirts going and I just followed them.”

The victory improved the Barons to 4-0 in L-L play (5-1 overall), but they had little time to enjoy it before they turned their attention toward another tough battle this week, this time against Cocalico.

“We’ve got a shot now to win the Section title,” Williams said. “If we lose tonight, then L-S is pretty much in the driver’s seat because they’ve played Cocalico and Solanco. We’ve got Cocalico, Garden Spot and Solanco, so there’s no slouches.”

Tony Staffieri is no slouch at quarterback for the Barons, and he picked up 74 of his 102 rushing yards on one play, as he ran right on the Barons’ third offensive play, turned the corner and took it to the house to give Central the lead. Derek Adams added the first of his eight PAT’s to make it 7-0 with 5:09 left in the first.

That was just the start of the offensive fireworks.

L-S needed just 30 seconds to respond, with Shank finding Ross Souders over the middle for a 36-yard TD strike. The Shank-to-Souders connection accounted for 123 yards of passing offense and all four of the Pioneers’ scores.

When Staffieri and his teammates got the ball back, a penalty wiped out a 69-yard hookup with Zach Sylvester down the left sideline. Manheim Central eventually punted, but Souders muffed it and McKee was there to pounce on the loose ball at the L-S 47-yard line. Then two plays into the second quarter, Camacho’s 10-yard TD run put the Barons back in front, 14-7, with 11:23 left in the half.

“(Damon)’s amazing,” Williams said. “He came out of nowhere. He leads Section Two in rushing. He’s tremendous and then Tyler Martin ran hard tonight filling in and with Tony’s big touchdown run, we had a pretty good 1-2-3 punch tonight.”

L-S had a pretty good counter punch of its own, scoring the next two touchdowns on Shank’s aerial strikes of 10 and 15 yards to Souders. The second of those drives, which was kept alive by two MC pass interference penalties, gave the Pioneers a 21-14 edge with 3:30 to go in the half.

The Barons, though, had one more scoring drive left in them in the first half, and Staffieri completed two passes for 61 yards to Tucker Ford and Sylvester to set up Camacho’s eight-yard run into the left corner of the end zone, tying the game 21-all heading to the locker room.

For the game, Central finished plus-two in turnovers, and Souders’ fumble at the L-S 44 early in the third led to Camacho’s 30-yard TD run up the gut with 6:54 to go in the third – capping a quick four-play drive – gave the Barons a lead they never lost.

The elusive 5-foot-6, 153-pound running back scored his fourth and final TD, a 45-yard scamper, with 1:30 remaining in the third to stretch Manheim Central’s lead to 35-21.

While Central’s line was opening up big holes for the backs, the Barons’ defense was making life miserable for the Pioneers’ attack. Up to that point in the second half, L-S had just six yards of total offense and two first downs against an MC squad asserting its will.

“We were just trying to get a six-man line going and just trying to get pressure on (Shank) so he was uncomfortable in the pocket throwing,” McKee said.

“We talked about it all week, we talked about it in the locker room (at halftime) that we were going to dominate the fourth quarter, but we dominated the whole second half,” Williams said. “We thought we could wear them down. I thought our defense played physical. We had them over the barrel a little bit there at the end of the third quarter.”

McKee’s pick-six was a big part of that dilemma for the Pioneers.

“(Craig) had a great game and he’s just a little guy. That’s what makes me so proud of this team,” Williams said, “is that we have some kids filling in – we need three kids to fill in for Moreno – but the kids are doing it. That’s what makes this team special. Regardless of how far we go or what we do, you won’t forget a team like this who sucked it up.”

The Pioneers finally snapped Central’s run of 28 unanswered points when Souders hauled in his fourth TD of the night, a 12-yard aerial from Shank, with 11:17 remaining, but it was too little, too late.

Tyler Martin, who finished with 92 rushing yards on 15 carries, scored on runs of six and 15 yards in the final seven and a half minutes to seal the deal for the Barons.

“I thought our intensity was probably the best it’s been all season,” Williams remarked. “Anytime you come down here, boy, it’s tough to play.”

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