Spartans use long runs to turn back Colts
FOUNTAIN SPRINGS While everyone readily admits to the strength and power of North Schuylkill's undefeated Spartan football team, its real strength is the manner in which some of its speedsters run the football.
Scoring five touchdowns on runs of 40 yards or more, the host squad broke open a 21-0 halftime lead by scoring three six-pointers in a span of less than six minutes after the break and proceeded to record a 48-2 win here Friday night over the 1-4 Marian Colts.
Coach Rick Geist's Anthracite League frontrunners were, indeed, everything people talked them up to be, dominating the line of scrimmage, controlling field position, and scoring in lightning fashion behind a tandem of runners who shifted their way around Colt defenders, outraced others, and pretty much scored in easy fashion.
For the second straight week, the Colts of Stan Dakosty played with a depleted roster in which only 26 players were in uniform, others watching from the sidelines due to injuries and/or discipline reasons. And when second-year starter Jordan Weber went down with an ankle injury prior to the break, the Colt problems got even worse.
"We knew what we were up against, they're one of the best teams in the state," said Dakosty. Still, his squad did surprise the Spartans by holding them to "just" 21 first half points, a fact that bothered Geist afterwards. The winning coach noted, "We didn't come out with any energy or enthusiasm in the first half. We gotta play better than that. The big thing in high school football is getting people off the ball. We didn't."
But while Geist was not impressed by his line's play, he certainly had to like what he saw in back Ed Pavalko. The latter scored on a five-yard run with 3:28 left in the first frame, after which the first of six Charlie Hutnick's placements made it 7-0. Then, in the second quarter, Pavalko ripped off a pair of 41-yard touchdown runs, one with 9:19 left before the break and the other at the 4:48 mark, making it 21-0. In all, he had six carries for 106 yards, all in the first half. Tailback Scott Houser added 86 yards on eight tries to mix up the offensive nicely.
Obviously outmanned, the Colts seemingly survived an early blowout, something other Spartan opponents had been unable to do in previous games. Said Dakosty, "This sounds crazy, but our kids busted their rears. Some of them stepped up for the first time last week and againt his week."
The second half was a little different. In fact, North Schuylkill scored impressively fast, including on an 80-yard kickoff return by Matt Gownley. The Colts went three-and-out, followed by the hosts scoring on a 70-yard run by Ethan Motsney on the first play from scrimmage with 9:33 left in the period, making it 35-0 and inflicting the "mercy rule" upon the Colts.
Then, for good measure, the Spartan defense forced the Colts to punt again, and this time on the first play from scrimmage, Motsney bolted 40 yards for his second tally on two touches, making it 42-0.
"Yeah, we have some speed," Geist understated. "Buit," he insisted, "It comes down to the linemen knocking people off the ball. We didn't do too well a job at that."
Until that point, the Colts struggled offensively, having garnered only 123 yards on the ground for the night, and much of that coming on a 75-yard fourth quarter drive. Before that, the Spartans made it 48-0 on a 14-yard TD run by Curt Adams.
When the Blue and Gold took over, they headed goalward, only to cough up the pigskin with 3:07 remaining on the Spartan four yardline. Two plays later, Colts J.P. O'Connor and T.J. Kelly tackled QB Matt Manbeck in the endzone for a safety, averting the shutout with 1:08 left to play.