SCHUYLKILL HAVEN – When assessing the Marian football team coach Stan Dakosty admits the Colts are, in his words, "a work in progress."
Unfortunately, the Colts had to go on the road Friday for their Anthracite Football League opener to take on a team that is truly a piece of work in so many ways in preseason favorite Schuylkill Haven. Adding to Marian's woes was the fact the Hurricanes came into Rotary Field feeling they had something to prove.
What the Canes proved was they deserved all the preseason hype and being ranked No. 1 in the AFL coaches poll and the No. 2 Class A team in the East behind District 4 power Southern Columbia. And while statistics often fail to tell the story, Haven's domination was reflected on the scoreboard with a 30-6 victory.
After opening on the road with a loss to defending PIAA Class AA state champion Wyomissing, the Canes (1-1, 1-0 AFL) wanted to get their running game untracked. That they did with Will Casella carrying 22 times for 174 yards, including a touchdown run of four yards on the second play of the second quarter for a 12-0 lead and another of five yards in the third quarter for 24-6 lead.
Haven scored the first three times it had the ball to take an 18-6 halftime lead, opening the game with a 14-play, 70-yard drive that Ryan Fink capped with a two-yard run. Fink opened at quarterback, completing his only two passes for a total of 69 yards to Zavier Webb, which broke down into a 46-yard pass to cap a seven-play, 70-yard drive in the second quarter and a 23-yard pass to cap a three-play, 36-yard pass in the third quarter for the final score.
Marian (0-2, 0-1 AFL) came in off what was seen as an upset loss at home to Lehighton and with a patchwork lineup because of injuries. Most noticeable was the switch of senior tight end Lukas Damian to quarterback in place of K.J. Snerr, who went out with a shoulder injury in the loss to the Indians.
"I thought Lukas did a good job, and he showed he's an athlete," Dakosty said. "We're a better football team than this, but Schuylkill Haven showed why it's the prohibitive favorite to win the league, District 11 Class A and maybe even the state title.
"We thought when we got that touchdown we might get a little momentum, but they took over. Right now, we're a work in progress, but we expect to get some players back next week, and we'll be better."
Dakosty hopes one of those players is Snerr, which will make runners like Anthony Agosti even more effective. He represented the bulk of the offensive against the Canes, rushing six times for 78 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run that capped a five-play, 71-yard drive that cut the Haven lead to 12-6 in the second quarter.
"We were hurt because of some big plays we gave up at Wyomissing, but tonight we wanted to work the clock," Hurricane coach Mike Farr said. "You know, we're pretty good up front, so even though we gave up a big play tonight, it was only one play."
In the second half Farr showed the flexibility the Canes have when he moved Fink to running back to take some of the workload off Casella. On their first possession, Fink had six carries for 53 yards in a 10-play, 73-yard drive that Casella capped with a 5-yard run for a 24-6 lead.
"That's something we've been working on for the last three years," Farr said. "Will had worked pretty hard in the first half, so we wanted to change it up."
Casella had 16 of his 22 carries for 143 of his 174 yards in the first half. Fink finished with 19 carries for 126 yards.
Haven dominated time of possession by running the ball 59 times for 361 yards, limiting the Colts to 25 carries for 101 yards. In the second half the Canes had a 10-1 advantage in first downs and 20-5 for the game.