Ea­gles blank In­di­ans, clinch play­off spot

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By MATT HICKS

Spe­cial to the Whig

— Bo Manor trav­eled to North East Fri­day night look­ing for their sixth win and a spot in the 1A play­offs for the fifth con­sec­u­tive year.

The Ea­gles, led by a strong ef­fort from their de­fense, will have the chance to lock up a home play­off game and the No. 2 seed in the 1A East Re­gion with a win next week, fol­low­ing a 43-0 shutout of the In­di­ans in Susque­hanna Di­vi­sion foot­ball ac­tion.

“This [win] ba­si­cally clinches one of the four play­off spots for us, which is great go­ing five years in a row,” Bo Manor coach Joe Graf said of the vic­tory. “As I’ve said all year, get­ting to the play­offs wasn’t our goal, we want to host a play­off game for the first time since 2010 and that was the mind­set go­ing in.”

Ju­nior play­maker Johnny Knight echoed his state­ment.

“[The win was] huge, locked us in,” added knight, who fin­ished the game with five car­ries for 69 yards, an 81-yard touch­down catch, a 57yard pass and an in­ter­cep­tion. “Big re­lief off of our chests. That was our


goal tonight and we ex­e­cuted it.”

Bo Manor (6-3 over­all, 4-2 di­vi­sion) struck quickly in the first half as ju­nior run­ning back Bobby McLen­nan fol­lowed up a North East fum­ble with a 5-yard touch­down run to put the Ea­gles up 7-0. He found the end zone again two pos­ses­sions later on an­other 5-yard carry that put the Ea­gles ahead 14-0.

Bo Manor capped the first half with a 28-yard field goal off the leg of sopho­more kicker Nick Burns af­ter the Ea­gles de­fense forced two take­aways, two punts and a botched field goal at­tempt.

“The de­fense played out of their minds,” Graf said. “In the sec­ond half we bent a lit­tle bit. They got down into the red zone a cou­ple times, but we never broke. They [the de­fense] came to­gether a cou­ple of times and got stops, which is huge be­cause it can change mo­men­tum in a high school foot­ball game.”

The In­di­ans (0-9, 0-6), in front of a great se­nior night crowd, hung around in the first half, but Bo Manor leaned on Knight to pull away in the sec­ond half.

“He’s slash, if you re­mem­ber the old Steel­ers days [Kordell “Slash” Ste­wart],” Graf said of his do-it-all ju­nior. “He’s that wide­out, he’s the quar­ter­back, he’s the run­ning back. I mean he does it all.”

Al­ready mak­ing his mark on the de­fen­sive side of the ball with an in­ter­cep­tion in the first quar­ter, Knight hauled in a pass from quar­ter­back Ryan Con­nol­ley to start the third quar­ter and ran un­touched for an 81-yard touch­down giv­ing Bo Manor a 24-0 lead.

“De­fense is ev­ery­thing, de­fense wins games,” Knight said of his ver­sa­til­ity. “[ I ] try to fly around every play and make plays. Wher­ever I need to be to help the team, that’s what I’m down for.”

The Ea­gles would take ad­van­tage of an­other de­fen­sive stand af­ter hold­ing North East on the 5-yard line fol­low­ing a 75-yard drive. Two rush­ing plays and two In­di­ans per­sonal foul penal­ties later, Con­nol­ley found wide re­ceiver Cameron Gar­cia on a 25-yard pass­ing touch­down to raise the lead to 31-0.

The Ea­gles would keep spread­ing the of­fen­sive wealth around late in the sec­ond half as they would pull ahead 43-0 be­hind a 5-yard touch­down run by Devin Gate­wood and a 20-yard touch­down run by Frank Baglio as time ex­pired.

“It’s ex­cel­lent,” Graf said of his of­fen­sive out­put. “It’s hard for a team to key on some­one for us. If you want to spy Bobby, we have other weapons around [him]. We aren’t scared to throw the ball around if we have to, but we want to es­tab­lish the run. We have ath­letes and they work hard each and every day, but it all starts with the of­fen­sive line they are the lead­ers of our team.”

The In­di­ans pro­gram, led by ju­nior quar­ter­back Chase Hol­lis­ter, along with run­ning backs Jalen Giles and Tay­lor Danglade, have a lot of prom­ise and will look to build on games against play­off cal­iber op­po­nents.

“I have good kids,” first year North East coach Chris Sch­le­ich said. “They have good hearts and I’m proud of them. We’re a young foot­ball pro­gram and only start two or three se­niors. We do things well at times, and then we do things real bad at times. If we can help these kids ma­ture and be­come con­sis­tently good, we can be­come a force for peo­ple to reckon with and that could hap­pen next year. We weren’t putting the fo­cus on win­ning or los­ing this year. We un­der­stood that if we lose, we lose. [At] the end of the game, you can see we gave up a cou­ple of touch­downs.”

North East made an ef­fort to have all the play­ers who will grad­u­ate in the spring en­ter the game.

“I played all eight of my se­niors and six of them rarely play, but it was their time and their op­por­tu­nity [on se­nior night],” Sch­le­ich said. “We’re stay­ing to our prin­ci­ples at this place and we’re learn­ing to grow as coaches. We have new sys­tems, coaches and com­mu­nity events top-to-bot­tom and we just need some time. We need a good off­sea­son”

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