HIGH SCHOOL FOOT­BALL:

DAL­LAS BEATS BER­WICK TO AD­VANCE TO DIS­TRICT TI­TLE GAME.

The Citizens' Voice - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEVE BEN­NETT STAFF WRITER

DAL­LAS — The kick was cer­tainly high enough. It was def­i­nitely long enough. The only thing left to de­ter­mine was what would the wind do with the foot­ball once it left Ryan Fisher’s foot and whether a sec­ond over­time be­tween Dal­las and Ber­wick would be needed.

But with two time­outs taken, Fisher had plenty of time to make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments. And while the wind did take hold of the ball, Fisher had just enough to sneak it through the up­rights and give Dal­las a 3-0 vic­tory Satur­day af­ter­noon at Moun­taineer Sta­dium in a Dis­trict 2 semi­fi­nal.

The win sends Dal­las (11-1) to next week’s Class 4A dis­trict cham­pi­onship game against No. 1 seed Val­ley View. The Cougars earned the right to play for a ti­tle with a vic­tory over West Scran­ton.

It will be the sec­ond meet­ing be­tween the two teams this year af­ter Val­ley View won at Dal­las dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son. Ber­wick ends the year 9-3.

Ber­wick coach Frank Shep­tock called a time­out prior to Fisher’s kick to ice him. Dal­las coach Rich Man­nello called a time­out to make a per­son­nel change up front on the line of scrim­mage.

“Just go­ing through my mind, it gave me more time to think about the wind and how I was go­ing to kick into the wind,” Fisher said. “It was a nerve-wrack­ing kick. Keep­ing my com­po­sure was the big­gest part of the kick. The kick went up and the wind just killed it by the up­rights and it drifted right.”

While bat­tling the wind was dif­fi­cult enough for both teams, Dal­las played the game with a new start­ing quar­ter­back. With both starter Michael Star­buck and backup RJ Wren out with in­juries, the Moun­taineers turned to ju­nior Michael Lukasav­age, who did not at­tempt a pass or carry the ball at all this sea­son.

“I found out Sun­day,” Lukasav­age said of when he was in­formed he would be start­ing. “I worked hard all off­sea­son and made sure when I had the op­por­tu­nity I went and took it. We are able to han­dle ad­ver­sity so fast and so well. Know­ing our start­ing quar­ter­back and backup went down, it made me who I am to­day. I know I have a great team around me and that let me go out and play ball.”

With scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties at a premium, field po­si­tion was go­ing to be key and spe­cial teams was go­ing to be a fac­tor.

Matt Maran­sky blocked a 38-yard field goal at­tempt by Ber­wick as the first half ex­pired, and he blocked an­other when the Dawgs at­tempted a 25-yarder af­ter get­ting the ball first in over­time.

“Ac­tu­ally it was our scout team look that en­abled me to block that kick (in over­time) and the first kick,” Maran­sky said. “We were just able to get around the edge. They are a great team and do things well. I just got lucky. We knew it was go­ing to be a low-scor­ing game with low yardage.”

Dal­las had a touch­down taken off the board in the sec­ond quar­ter when Lukasav­age con­nected with Luke Del­gau­dio on an 8-yard pass, but it was negated due to a hold­ing penalty.

“That drive into the wind, it’s tough to have a touch­down taken off the board,” Man­nello said. “The kids over­came that. That was our best drive of the day, and it was into the wind. It was just a tremen­dous ef­fort all day by the kids. I am so happy for them.”

Ber­wick fin­ished with 203 yards of to­tal of­fense with 183 coming on the ground. De­fen­sively, the Dawgs gave up 81 yards rush­ing, while Lukasav­age threw for 93.

“Ob­vi­ously, it was a de­fen­sive kind of day,” Shep­tock said. “As the game wore on, we were think­ing about an over­time sit­u­a­tion. We had a cou­ple of shots but we just didn’t ex­e­cute. We had a chance to make some big plays but it just didn’t work out.”

Dal­las won the toss in over­time and went on de­fense first. Ber­wick be­gan the se­ries with a de­lay of game penalty mov­ing the ball back to the 15. Af­ter two in­com­plete pass at­tempts, Tea­gan Wilk rushed for seven yards. Maran­sky came around the edge and block the field goal at­tempt mean­ing Dal­las just needed a field go to win.

Lenny Kel­ley car­ried the ball three con­sec­u­tive times for Dal­las gain­ing 3 yards set­ting up Fisher’s game-win­ner. His field goal against Ber­wick in the reg­u­lar sea­son proved to be the dif­fer­ence in Dal­las’ three-point win at Crispin Field.

“At the end of the fourth quar­ter, I knew it was go­ing to come down to some lit­tle point,” Fisher said. “We are both two great teams go­ing at each other. I knew it would come down to the small points.”

DAVE SCHER­BENCO / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Ryan Fisher kicks the game-win­ning field goal Satur­day as Matt Maran­sky holds.

DAVE SCHER­BENCO / STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Dal­las’ Matt Maran­sky dives in to block Jar­ret Groshek’s field goal at­tempt.

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