Turnaround season ends for Warwick in District quarters

By on November 16, 2016
Warwick junior running back Isaac Rissinger (right) rushes for a 33-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Cumberland Valley defensive back Cole McCoy in the first half of last Friday’s District game. Photo by Cathy Chapis

Warwick junior running back Isaac Rissinger (right) rushes for a 33-yard gain before being pushed out of bounds by Cumberland Valley defensive back Cole McCoy in the first half of last Friday’s District game. Photo by Cathy Chapis

The post-game huddle wasn’t easy for Warwick football coach Bob Locker last Friday night.

It was written all over his face.

The hurt he felt for his squad was clear as he talked about how they turned things around this year coming off back-to-back 2-8 seasons.

The Warriors were hoping to capture a ninth win at Cumberland Valley — and their first-ever District Three playoff victory — but it wasn’t meant to be.

Josiah Quigley rushed for 147 yards and two TDs, Jake Palmer added 105 yards on the ground, and CV broke open a close game at the break with 21 unanswered points in the second half, leading them to a 35-7 conquest over the Warriors in the District Three 6A quarterfinals in Mechanicsburg.

Warwick, making its first District playoff appearance since 2010, finished 8-3, while Cumberland Valley (8-3) advanced to the semi-finals to face Mid-Penn rival Central Dauphin (10-1), a 34-14 winner over Manheim Township (6-4).

“Like I told them, their sophomore and junior years were not pretty,” Locker said, “and they could have chose to quit and they didn’t. They hung with it, took care of each other, got better, worked their butts off, and to go from an eight-loss team to an eight-win team says a lot about who they are and their character and the work ethic and all that they did. So it’s very hard to watch them go because they persevered and kept working.”

Averaging nearly 380 yards of offense per game, the Warriors were held to just 155 total yards while struggling to find consistency against the Eagles’ D.

Asked how CV was able to contain them, Locker said, “Play cover two and still stop us with five in the box on the run. Pretty simple. If there’s only five with two high, you’ve got to be able to run the football and we struggled. We couldn’t get a rhythm going and they took away our ability to throw the ball.”

The Eagles showed an excellent ability to execute their Wing-T offense early, taking the opening kick and marching 70 yards on seven plays. CV brought out a heavy dose of Palmer and Quigley, who capped the drive with a 33-yard TD run around left end with 3:23 elapsed in the first quarter, giving the hosts a 7-0 lead.

“They ran some outside zone, which we hadn’t seen a lot of,” Locker said, “and it was a good move on their part because we kinda set ourselves up to take away the inside run. And they saw it and I guess they had practiced it or anticipated it because it was a smart move on their part.”

After back-to-back three-and-outs by Warwick’s offense, CV was threatening to add to its lead. Taking over at their own 28, the Eagles — while converting a pair of third-down plays — marched to the Warriors’ 23. But on fourth-and-two, Cumberland Valley senior quarterback Ridge Bachman was stuffed by Warwick’s D, led by Jakob McCracken and Evan Clark, with nine and eight tackle points, respectively.

It was the shot in the arm Warwick needed. A 33-yard run by junior Isaac Rissinger, combined with a CV penalty, moved the ball to the Eagles’ 11. Two plays later, senior QB Tyler Trimarchi (12-18-0, 94 yards) fired an eight-yard TD pass to Carter Forney in the right corner of the end zone. Will Mobley’s PAT tied it 7-all with 5:54 left in the half.

Not long afterward, the Warriors appeared to stop CV on third down, but a roughing-the-passer penalty extended the drive, moving the chains to the Eagles’ 45. From there, Cumberland Valley went on to score on sophomore Jared Plessinger’s (5-8-0, 66 yards) five-yard TD pass Michael Sundy with :52.6 left in the half, putting the Eagles up, 14-7.

“One play doesn’t make a game,” said Locker, when asked about the penalty. “They’re a really good football team. I don’t know if that would have made a difference or not, but it would have been interesting to see if we could have gotten the ball and see what we could do with it because we had a little momentum going there.”

Unfortunately for the Warriors, they never got on track in the second half, being held without a first down on their first four possessions after the break.

In the meantime, Quigley’s one-yard TD run with 2:56 to go in the third extended CV’s lead to 21-7 at period’s end.

It didn’t help Warwick’s cause that Trimarchi was helped off the field late in the third quarter with an ankle injury. On the Eagles’ next series, Plessinger scored on a one-yard QB keeper with 10:50 left in the fourth, finishing a six-play, 55-yard drive.

Then when Cole McCoy picked off an aerial by QB Taylor Lentz, the Eagles capitalized on a short field with Bachman scoring on a two-yard run with 9:18 left, making it 35-7 and putting the Warriors in a deep hole.

Trimarchi returned and completed 5-of-6 passes on Warwick’s next series, with gains of 20 yards to Carter Forney and 13 yards to Jordan Cruz. But the Warriors eventually turned it over on downs at the CV 27-yard line with 4:27 to go and the outcome was all but sealed.

“(Tyler) wanted to play, and you know what? Some people will question why you put him back in if he was dinged,” Locker said, “and quite honestly, he said, ‘Coach, I’d like to finish my last game.’ And I thought he earned the right to go back in and finish his last game. For all he did for us this year? The kid deserved to go in and play.”

With the last game in the books for the Warriors in 2016, Locker, braving the crisp fall air, knew the bus ride home wouldn’t be an easy one.

“Tough way to go out,” he said. “At this point, you either lose or you’re State champ, so it’s going to be a tough ride. It’s hard, that’s all. Like I said, the seniors put a lot into this coming from where they were to where they are now, so it will be very difficult to watch them go.”

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