The Male Trophy stays at Warwick

By on September 20, 2017
Warwick tight end Hayden Rucci, who had four receptions for 77 yards against Ephrata last Friday, battles for extra yardage against Mounts’ defensive back Bryson Rhee. Photo by Missi Mortimer

Warwick tight end Hayden Rucci, who had four receptions for 77 yards against Ephrata last Friday, battles for extra yardage against Mounts’ defensive back Bryson Rhee. Photo by Missi Mortimer

For 12th straight year, Warriors top the Mounts

Off the field, Carter Forney isn’t very loud.

But his play between the white lines?

That’s a different story.

“One of the reasons he was selected as a captain was for that very reason,” Warwick coach Bob Locker said. “He’s not loud. Thankfully, we have other kids on the team that balance that out. But (Carter’s) work ethic and his actions speak volumes. He just makes plays.”

Last Friday night, the Warwick senior wide receiver made all kinds of noise, snagging six receptions for 88 yards and three TDs, all in the first half when the Warriors bolted to a commanding 47-0 lead against back-yard rival Ephrata.

“It’s been a lot of fun (throwing to Carter),” Warrior senior QB Grayson Kline said. “You put it within five feet and he’s making the play. It’s crazy.”

In all, Warwick amassed 481 total yards of offense, as Kline passed for 209 yards and three touchdowns, Isaac Rissinger rushed for a game-high 125 yards and two scores, and Nick Fucci had 33 yards on the ground with three TDs, leading the Warriors to a 61-0 non-league whitewashing of the Mounts in the annual battle for the Male Trophy at Ephrata’s War Memorial Field.

It’s the 12th straight year that Warwick (2-1) has taken home the Male Trophy, giving them a 44-38-6 edge in the all-time series.

“It’s another piece of the puzzle,” said Forney, who now has 20 receptions for 331 yards and eight TDs in three games. “We’re just trying to build our confidence. It’s a long streak (against Ephrata) and we want to keep it that way.”

The Mounts (0-3), meanwhile, were looking to build off of a close 28-21 loss to Lebanon the previous week, but mistakes — including three turnovers — proved costly.

“It’s all a process right now and we are working to get where we need to be,” Ephrata coach Kris Miller said. “We have some athletes, we have kids who are working hard, and now for us it’s just a matter of building consistency. There’s a lot of plays, I think, when we watch film tomorrow that when one or two guys make a mistake and don’t do the right thing, that kinda can blow up a whole play. And those are the things we have to sure up.”

Although the Warriors scored 60 or more points for the second week in a row, Locker was particularly pleased with the defensive shutout. In the first two weeks of the season, Warwick allowed a combined 77 points against Manheim Central and Garden Spot.

“We kinda preached (the shutout) this week,” Locker said. “We wanted to go out and just shut somebody down and make a statement before we get to Section One because Section One is tough football. So it was pretty cool to see the kids pull it off.”

“That was a really big deal,” said Forney, who also plays at defensive back.

Offensively, the Warriors wasted little time putting points on their side of the scoreboard, with Kline capping a 7-play, 77-yard scoring driving by hitting Forney in the right corner of the end zone with just 2:17 elapsed. Pietro Elliott then kicked the first of his seven PATs to make it 7-0.

“(The game plan) was just to take what they give us,” Kline said. “We came in and it was, ‘Alright, we’re going to pound it down their throat until they make us throw.’ So the first play or two, we pounded it down their throat and then it opened up (Carter) on some outs and hitches.”

Following the first of back-to-back three-and-outs by Ephrata, the Warriors took over on their own 48 for their second drive. Overall, they scored on seven of their eight first-half possessions while capitalizing on an average starting field position of Ephrata’s 41.

“(The field position) just made it a lot easier tonight,” Forney said.

From there, Warwick needed just four plays to connect for their second TD of the night, a Kline-to-Forney 7-yard hook-up to extend its lead to 14-0.

Next, Elliott’s kickoff landed near the Mounts’ 10-yard line, took a bounce away from Ephrata’s return man and Warrior junior Brendan Martin pounced on the loose ball at the 6.

“Special teams again killed us,” Miller said. “We’ve got to get better in that area. We put a lot of focus in that two weeks ago and we improved, and then this week we kinda took a step back. We’ve got to field that kickoff.”

“That’s kinda crushing,” Locker admitted. “If they were going to be successful, they needed a couple of breaks to go their way and actually, the breaks kinda went our way and they gave us short fields and we took advantage of it.”

This time, Fucci joined the scoring fun for Warwick, plowing into the end zone from four yards out for a 20-0 lead.

Next, a botched two-yard punt by Ephrata gave Warwick the ball at the Mounts’ 17, and two plays later, Kline caught a pass in the right flat from Kline, turned the corner and went 17 yards to paydirt, putting Warwick up 27-0 with 4:18 left in the first.

“We’re really lucky to have (Grayson),” Forney said, “and I just want to thank him and all the offensive linemen, of course.”

“They’ve got a pretty good rhythm going,” Locker said of Kline and Forney. “The thing about Carter is if it touches his hands, he’s going to catch it and he and Grayson are starting to get pretty good chemistry. We took advantage of things that were there and that’s a credit to Grayson being more familiar and comfortable with the system, and to Forney, who just runs really good patterns for a high school wide receiver.”

Using a rotation at QB with Caden Keefer (4-8-1, 50 yards) and Nate Young (4-11-1, 34 yards), the Mounts got their initial first down on a Keefer-to-Dylan Embiscuso 13-yard completion on their final possession of the first quarter. Ephrata, though, was eventually forced to punt from its own 15.

“(Caden and Nate) are both still getting experience at this point and they’re both improving and they both do different things well,” Miller said.

Fucci, too, does a lot of things well for the Warriors, and with just :38.9 left in the opening quarter, he ran up the middle, cut right and scored into the corner of the end zone on a 14-yard run, making it 34-0 at period’s end.

Ephrata was held to only 174 total yards in the game, led by Keefer, who rushed for 51 yards on 16 carries. Keefer scrambled for a pair of first downs early in the second quarter, giving the Mounts a first down at midfield, but Adam Smith’s fumble was recovered by Warwick’s Evan Popalis to halt the drive.

“We’ve got to just protect the football,” Miller said. “That’s the easiest way to kill momentum.”

The Warriors then seemed poised to add to their lead following a 33-yard connection between Kline and tight end Hayden Rucci. For the game, Rucci had four receptions for 77 yards.

“We have some weapons and it was good to see Hayden break out tonight,” Locker said. “He had some nice catches and made some really good runs after the catch.”

On fourth down, however, Ephrata’s Corbin Weaver brought down an INT at the Mounts’ 6. Less than two minutes later, Warwick got the ball back and scored on Fucci’s one-yard run, his third of the game, to make it 41-0.

Not long afterward, Popalis’ INT and 22-yard return put the Warriors in business again, and Rissinger’s one-yard TD run with :13.8 left in the half pushed the advantage to 47-0.

Rissinger again carried the load on Warwick’s opening possession of the second half, rushing 11 times for 50 yards, including a one-yard TD run with 11:55 to go in the fourth.

“Fantastic,” Locker said of Rissinger and Fucci. “It’s nice to have a two-headed running back system because they both play defense. So I thought they both ran really well, which is also due to the offensive line, so kudos to them as well.’

Sophomore Sean Badessa’s 34-yard TD run with 4:43 left in the fourth completed the Warriors’ scoring.

The Mounts then had their best drive of the night, as Keefer ran for gains of 7, 30 and 11 yards to the Warrior 27. But a penalty hampered their cause and time expired as Ephrata failed to convert on a fourth-and-long.

“That’s kinda been the story of our season,” Miller said. “We get things going and we either have a turnover or we have a penalty. We’ve got to get better with those things and with the consistency of our play.”

When the clock hit zeroes, the Warriors celebrated on the field with the George Male Trophy, extending a streak in which they’ve defeated Ephrata every year since 2006.

“It was important for us to keep it,” Locker said. “I think our kids are excited when we win football games. We wanted a shutout and we did some things well offensively, so they should be excited.”

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