Lehighton controls Marian
Controlling the line of scrimmage leads to long drives.
Long drives often result in scoring touchdowns.
And scoring touchdowns brings about victories.
On Friday in Hometown, that obvious formula worked to perfection for Lehighton as it opened the season with a solid 27-14 non-league win over Marian.
"We just wanted to control the line of scrimmage," said Indian head coach Tom McCarroll. "That's what Marian did to us last year. They took us off the ball on both sides. They controlled the clock. We said going in that the offensive and defensive lines were going to be the key tonight.
"Putting together long drives is huge ... Marian can strike at any moment so we thought if we can control the ball and the clock things would play out in our favor. And we were able to do that."
While a nine-play, 58-yard march on its opening possession of the season gave Lehighton a lead it would never relinquish, it was two more lengthy marches in the second half that sealed a win for McCarroll and his squad.
Opening the second half with a 13-0 advantage, the Indians took the kickoff and moved 73 yards in 11 plays. During their trek down the field the visitors converted a fourth down in their own territory, hit a key pass on a third-and-long, and took over five minutes off the clock.
Wyatt Clements, who completed the game's first drive with a one-yard scoring run, also finished off the initial march of the second half with a six-yard tally. The score upped the margin to 20-0.
"We preach to the kids that the first half is just one half and it's not going to carry you through the rest (of the game)," said McCarroll, who played his high school ball at Marian. "I told them if we can propel ourselves and sustain another drive that really could put a dagger in their hearts."
"Lehighton is physical, well-coached and well-drilled," said Colt mentor Stan Dakosty. "They just wore us down ... (The start of the second half) was probably the most disappointing thing of the whole game. We came out of the locker room and I thought we could pull ourselves back in and make a big stop. But they just took it down. That took the starch out of us right there."
Dakosty's club tried to climb back into the contest by getting on the board late in the third frame. Anthony Agosti reached paydirt from 12 yards out to make it 20-6, but the Colts' momentum was short-lived.
Following the score, McCarroll's team responded with more ball control and more points. Quarterback Tyler Cann moved his team 68 yards in 10 plays to deliver the knockout punch. Cann hit Nick Newton with a key 23-yard toss and the sophomore signal-caller capped the Indian offense with a 14-yard TD run.
For the game, Cann ran for 66 yards and completed 11-of-17 passes for 165 more.
"He has progressed like very few sophomores do," said McCarroll. "I have a ton of confidence in him ... He's very mature beyond his years. He's a football junkie. That's the word I keep attaching to him. He has a high football IQ and he played within himself today.
"We really spread the ball around today and I was pleased with that. It wasn't just the quarterback, but it was our O-line, our backs and receivers."
For Marian, its quarterback situation was a bit different. Starter KJ Snerr was injured on the first play from scrimmage and didn't return. And while Dean Richards did an admirable job in Snerr's absence, the Colt offense struggled at times.
"We were suspect defensively and we couldn't get anything going offensively," said Dakosty. "The second half was better but we couldn't get a big stop and didn't make the big play when we needed it. We just have to go back to the drawing board. Dean did a great job stepping in there."
Also doing a great job was the Lehighton defense.
The Indians ended with 15 tackles for loss and forced a pair of turnovers, one an interception by Tom Ruzicka.
"Our defensive coaches are so intense and they love the game of football," said McCarroll. "They get on the kids and they eat it up. When it comes to gametime they fly around, they create turnovers and mistakes and make plays in the backfield."