True to its perch atop the Anthracite Football League standings, the North Schuylkill Spartans ran roughshod over the Marian Colts on Friday night at the Men of Marian Stadium, Hometown, delivering a knockout punch on their hosts in the early going and breezing to a 37-0 triumph.
Coach Rick Geist's Spartans, now 5-0, displayed an impressive and explosive prowess both on the ground and in the air, compiling 368 yards of total offense, with much of it coming during a 23-point second quarter explosion.
Plain and simply - the Colts were never in the game. And while the Spartans moved the ball at will, the visitors' defense was even more exceptional. While the shutout speaks volumes, so, too, do the stingy numbers they yielded to the Colts, a mere 19 yards on the ground and only seven more via the airwaves for a 26-yard offensive performance, by far the least of any Marian team in years.
"A lot of kids play well for us," understated Geist, who labeled the victory a "whole team win." He explained two linemen were out of the Spartans' starting lineup, forcing a number of changes up front for the visitors.
Do it, the Spartans truly did, starting with a 10-play, 71-yard drive for a TD with the game's first possession. QB Tom Ferrari's 20-yard completion to Scott Houser rallied NS from a third-and-seven situation and four plays later Houser scored on an eight-yard run with 7:04 left in the first period. The first of five Charlie Hutnick placements made it 7-0.
Yet while the Spartan offense showed a proclivity for grinding out yardage with long drives, it also showed it can score very quickly, as momentum stayed on its side in the second stanza.
With 11:37 left before the intermission, Ferrari threw a pass to Derek Hughes who was all alone in the secondary. He caught the ball 18 yards from the 29-yard line of scrimmage, at the Marian 47, and went unscathed to the endzone on a 71-yard TD play to make it 14-0.
Then, on defense, the Red and White hit Marian taliback Paul Martin for a four-yard loss at the 16 yardline. After two incompletions, the Colts lined up to punt, only to have the center snap sail over the head of punter Jea Kloap and out of the endzone for a safety and a 16-0 Spartan lead with 10:46 left in the half.
Three plays after the free kick, the victors were endzone-bound again. Taking the ball at the Marian 35, thanks to a 27-yard kickoff return by Kody Flail, the Spartans needed only three plays to put additonal points on the board. Runningback Ed Pavalko initially bolted 22 yards, followed by an 11-yard run by Houser, before Pavalko's two-yard burst to the endzone made it 23-0.
The Spartans added their fourth TD of the half later on a 48-yard drive, the tally coming on a three-yard pass from Ferrari to Mike Shinkus with :15 left on the board, making it 30-0.
"It (the game) got away from us in the second quarter," said Dakosty.
The Spartans scored on a 43-yard touchdown run by Houser on their first possession of the second half, the score coming with 9:34 left in the third stanza, making it 37-0 and signalling for the "mercy rule."