Bear Down

Boy­er­town ends sea­son with East­ern Con­fer­ence crown

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Jeff Stover js­tover@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­curyXS­tover on Twit­ter

BOY­ER­TOWN » It will ar­guably rank as one of the big­ger sea­so­nend­ing games in Boy­er­town foot­ball history.

For the play­ers from the Class of 2018, it will be THE best.

The Bears found them­selves play­ing for a con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship Fri­day, when they hosted Po­cono Moun­tain East in their sea­son fi­nale. On a night with var­i­ous his­tor­i­cal con­no­ta­tions, a ti­tle-se­cur­ing 48-20 vic­tory over the Car­di­nals was the big­gest.

Boy­er­town, host­ing its firstever play­off game, scored 28 unan­swered points in the se­cond half to lay claim to the Class 5A/6A East­ern Foot­ball Con­fer­ence tro­phy. The EFC, dat­ing back to the 1920s, is com­prised of a num­ber of schools in the Po­conos and along the East Coast. It’s ba­si­cally a one-game play­off for the top teams who don’t qual­ify for post-sea­son play­offs in their re­spec­tive states.

Still, the Bears (5-6) were more than happy to be play­ing for some­thing sig­nif­i­cant in their fi­nal game. They hung with PME through a tit-for-tat first half, then broke open the 20-20 dead­lock with brothers Nick and Jamie Moc­cia run­ning for touch­downs on four of five se­cond-half pos­ses­sions.

“It all comes down to chem­istry,” Nick, a se­nior and the el­der brother, said af­ter Boy­er­town

laid claim to the con­fer­ence tro­phy. “We stuck to­gether and made it hap­pen. We’re a bunch of blue-col­lar work­ers.”

For T.J. Miller, it serves as a mem­o­rable start to his ten­ure as Boy­er­town’s head coach. Miller took over the pro­gram with the ex­pressed goals of chang­ing the cul­ture and get­ting it into the post­sea­son.

The plan got off to a rough four-game los­ing streak to start the year. But the Bears re­versed the de­cline, a three-game win streak the per­fect con­clu­sion.

“We fought back,” Miller said. “The growth the team made this sea­son was in­cred­i­ble. The se­niors were de­ter­mined to make it hap­pen.”

The Car­di­nals of­fered a gloomy start to Boy­er­town’s con­fer­ence-cham­pi­onship prospects, scor­ing on the first play of the game. Quar­ter­back Dy­lan Rinker hooked up with wide re­ceiver Tris­ton Hill­man on a 52-yard touch­down pass, and PME led 13 sec­onds into the con­test, 7-0.

Boy­er­town an­swered with Nick Moc­cia leg­ging out an 80-yard scor­ing run — the first of four he made on the night — with 4:11 left in the quar­ter. The 7-7 tie lasted only 18 sec­onds, though, as the Cards’ work­horse run­ning back, Praize An­drews, scored off a 39-yard burst through left tackle to re­gain a 13-7 lead.

But the Bears kept pace with their guests the re­main­der of the first half. They took a 14-13 lead with ju­nior quar­ter­back Ay­den Mathias (3-for-7, 71 yards) hit­ting Jerry Kapp on a 25yard pass be­fore De­clan Coyle added the sixth of his seven con­ver­sion kicks.

The clubs traded scores over the fi­nal 6:15, PME with a 39-yard run by An­drews and Boy­er­town with Jamie Moc­cia’s 27-yard run around his right end at the 4:23 mark.

‘This is a good Po­cono Moun­tain East team,” Miller said. “Match­ing them point for point was big.”

“In the locker room, Jerry (Kapp) got us to­gether and had pos­i­tive words for us,” Nick re­called. “We knew we had to step up. We’d never been in a play­off game for years. We wanted to win for the school, the team and the com­mu­nity.”

The Bears took own­er­ship of the se­cond half, the Moc­cias and Kapp do­ing their parts to keep the Car­di­nals at bay.

They marched for the ul­ti­mate go-ahead score off the open­ing kick­off, Nick (14 car­ries, 174 yards) cap­ping the drive by push­ing three yards up the mid­dle at the 8:14 mark. He then scored off a two-yard plow through right tackle at the 3:42 mark, the pos­ses­sion set up by Kapp in­ter­cept­ing a Rinker pass at his 21 and Mar­cus Thomas (five car­ries, 91 yards) sprint­ing 78 yards to the PME two.

Jamie (10 car­ries, 84 yards) got back on the scor­ing track with a 12yard run up the mid­dle 4:42 from the game’s end, Kapp again sett­ting up the drive with his pro­gram record 11th pick of the sea­son. Then Nick fin­ished off the night, af­ter Boy­er­town got the ball back on downs with 2:47 re­main­ing, by run­ning 37 yards off left tackle 40 sec­onds in.

“This is sur­real,” Kapp said. “It’s a big deal for us.”

JEFF STOVER — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boy­er­town’s Jerry Kapp car­ries the East­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship tro­phy af­ter the Bears’ win Fri­day.

AUSTIN HERT­ZOG — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Boy­er­town’s Mar­cus Thomas looks for open space on a carry against Ex­eter ear­lier this sea­son. Thomas had 91 yards last Fri­day night against Po­cono Moun­tain East.

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