Playoff Bound! Win over McCaskey sends Warwick to Districts for first time in six years

By on November 9, 2016
Warwick QB Tyler Trimarchi (3) eludes McCaskey pass rusher Jordan Grove (76) and darts for a first down in the Warriors’ 17-0 win last Friday night.

Warwick QB Tyler Trimarchi (3) eludes McCaskey pass rusher Jordan Grove (76) and darts for a first down in the Warriors’ 17-0 win last Friday night.

Prior to every game, Warwick QB Tyler Trimarchi searches out his running backs.

His motive is to give them some encouraging words.

“I tell them, ‘If you get the rock, you run hard because that just brings more touches and (Nick Fucci) listened to me tonight,’” Trimarchi smiled.

Indeed, Fucci did.

The sophomore running back rumbled for a career-high 92 yards on 12 carries, contributing to a Warwick ground game which gained 276 total yards and scored two touchdowns last Friday against McCaskey. Isaac Rissinger (12-94 rushing) and Ryan Long (6-25) each hit paydirt, and Trimarchi added 65 yards on 13 carries.

That, along with a defensive effort which recorded their first shutout of the year, sparked the Warriors to a 17-0 victory over the Red Tornado in their regular-season finale in Lancaster. Placing second in Section One with a 6-1 L-L record, Warwick’s (8-2 overall) sixth straight win also qualified them for the District Three playoffs for the first time since 2010. Seeded fifth in the 6A brackets, they will travel to 4th-seeded Cumberland Valley this Friday for the quarterfinals.

“It’s a pretty cool feeling (to qualify for Districts),” Warrior coach Bob Locker said. “I feel for the school, for the program, the administration, the kids. I feel for my coaches. I’m not going to lie, I’m pretty happy for myself as well. It’s what you want. You want to get back to the playoffs and here we are, so we’ll see.”

“I’m very excited (to play in Districts),” Trimarchi said. “It’s been a long time since we did that here as a program. We set that as one of our goals before the season — to do what we needed to do and get to District playoffs. And to achieve that goal is a great feeling.’”

To achieve success in Districts, however, Warwick knows that it will need to play better than it did against McCaskey. In five trips into the red zone last Friday night, they managed just two touchdowns and had one turnover.

“Obviously, we can’t be very happy tonight,” Trimarchi said. “I thought we did not play up to our ability. We need to play a little bit better and work hard at practice because it’s big boy football from here on out.”

Fortunately, the Warriors got a big performance from the defense, which limited the Red Tornado to 157 total yards — only five through the air on 2-of-8 passing — while getting key second-half turnovers from linebackers Long and Tyler Gerhart.

“(Defensive coordinator Alex) Daecher had a great plan,” Locker said, “and the kids executed it. We gave up some stuff early on, but they cleaned it up and they bailed us out, kept us where it was to get the offense back in it.”

The offense took advantage of some clutch execution after receiving the opening kickoff, going a combined 4-for-4 on third and fourth-down conversions. Finally, Long’s one-yard TD dive on fourth-and-goal, coupled with Will Mobley’s PAT, gave the Warriors a 7-0 lead with 5:21 left in the opening quarter.

Warwick’s possession consisted of 15 plays, covering 63 yards and eating 6:39 off the clock. It wasn’t by design, though, to keep the ball for an extended time.

“They made it difficult for us to run some of our stuff,” Locker said. “That was their intent. I’m going to believe that they wanted us to have to go a lot of plays to score, and to the kids’ credit, we did what we had to do.”

Trimarchi finished 11-of-22 for 68 yards, with his first INT of the season, and the senior signal-caller completed five of those passes on the first series — all to wideout Patrick Quinn (6-26 receiving) and tight end Hayden Rucci (2-28).

But the Tornado answered with a one-two punch of running back Isiah Jackson (20-88 rushing) and QB Ante Robinson (9-7), marching to the Warriors 5-yard line. There, Gerhart, who had a team-high 13 tackle points, and Evan Popalis stopped Robinson on third-and-goal, and then Nick Allen’s 34-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Long.

Taking over at their own 13, the Warriors got out of the hole with a 28-yard burst up the middle by Fucci.

“Last week, Long had the hot hand. Riss has had the hot hand multiple times this season, Fucci got hot tonight and we’re not opposed to leaving someone in if they’re on a roll,” Locker said.

That roll continued to McCaskey’s 5, and when the 18-play drive stalled, Mobley booted a 22-yard field goal with 1:56 left in the half, making it 10-0.

Following a three-and-out by the Tornado, the Warriors got the ball one more time in he half with great field position and once again marched deep into McCaskey territory. Eventually, Warwick had to settle for a 31-yard FG attempt from Mobley, which missed wide left as time expired, keeping it 10-0 at the half.

“(Not finishing drives) is a little disconcerting,” Locker said, “because we’ve been really efficient about that this year and tonight, I’m going to take the blame for some of it. I think maybe questionable first down plays on two of the drives, some stuff we had looked at for this week, so I’ll clean it up. We’ve finished drives all year, we just didn’t do a good job tonight, so I’ve got to clean it up.”

McCaskey received the second-half kickoff and seemed to be in business when Anthony DeLeon darted around left end for gains of 16 and 12 yards, taking the ball into Warwick’s territory. But Warwick’s defense dug in and took over on downs at their own 13-yard line.

“Big plays, not letting them get the edge,” Locker said of his team’s defensive focus. “The second half, we let them do that the one drive, but I thought all in all, we did a pretty good job of keeping them off the edge.”

In the fourth quarter, McCaskey QB Kyle Milburn was dropped for a four-yard loss and Long pounced on a fumble, ending a Tornado threat. Later, Gerhart picked off an aerial from Jamiere Gray at the McCaskey 46.

From there, Rissinger carried the ball four straight times, starting with a 33-yard jaunt and ending with a three-yard TD run untouched off-tackle, making the score 17-0 and putting the game out of reach.

Now the Warriors will go for a seventh straight win when they head to Cumberland Valley this Friday night.

“This being my senior year, I don’t want to see it end,” Trimarchi said, “but I think if we work real hard this week, we’re going to like the results come at the end of the week.”

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