Spataro, de­fense power Chiefs

The Times-Tribune - - HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL - BY DON­NIE COLLINS STAFF WRITER

SCOTT TWP. — Af­ter losses in two of their last four games, Lake­land wanted to use Fri­day night’s bat­tle with Nan­ti­coke as a spring­board to the home­stretch, a chance to show they could get back to the phys­i­cal style of play that got it rolling to a 3-0 start.

Be­hind a sti­fling de­fense and a re­lent­less run­ning game, they ac­com­plished that mis­sion.

Gio­vanni Spataro rushed for three touch­downs, and the No. 10 Chiefs held the Tro­jans to just 2.8 yards per carry on the way to a con­vinc­ing, 30-0 win Fri­day night.

“We’ve been kind of flat the last cou­ple weeks, so we re­ally, re­ally needed a good win,” se­nior de­fen­sive tackle Jonathon Naniewicz said. “We re­ally needed to shut these guys out.

“The two losses re­ally shook us up a bit, be­cause we were ex­pected to win, and we wanted to win re­ally bad. We didn’t know if we’d be able to bounce back, but we found the en­ergy in prac­tice this week.”

Lake­land (6-2) left lit­tle doubt the re­bound was pos­si­ble early. Spataro broke open a long run on the game’s first snap, gain­ing 39 yards over the right side to set up his 6-yard touch­down run just 1:26 into the game. The Chiefs would find the end zone on each of their first three pos­ses­sions — a 1-yard plunge by Spataro lead­ing to a 14-0 edge and, later, quar­ter­back C.J. Dip­pre’s beau­ti­fully lofted pass to tight end Colin Walsh for a 23-yard score — build­ing a 20-0 edge less than two min­utes into the sec­ond quar­ter.

“Their D-ends, they’re very phys­i­cal and they like to run up the field a lot,” Spataro said. “(The of­fen­sive line) was able to trap them a lot, and it just made for some easy runs up­field.”

While the Chiefs were pil­ing up yards, Nan­ti­coke strug­gled to get any­thing go­ing.

Six of its first nine rushes went for neg­a­tive yardage, and a sev­enth was stuffed at the line of scrim­mage. Tro­jans run­ning back Joe Am­mons wound up rush­ing for 105 yards, but he had just 17 at half­time, and 58 of that fi­nal to­tal came on a pair of runs with the game prac­ti­cally de­cided in the fourth quar­ter.

“Hon­estly, the game plan was to stop the run,” said Naniewicz, who had six tack­les and a sack. “They did not like to run the ball up the mid­dle at all, and it was mostly out­side stuff. We knew the D-ends and the out­side lineback­ers had a big task tonight, and they did great.”

Now, the Tro­jans are the team look­ing for a re­bound af­ter suf­fer­ing their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive shutout loss, with a play­off spot and a chance to fin­ish .500 still hang­ing in the bal­ance.

“It seemed like the Tro­jans didn’t come to play foot­ball tonight,” Nan­ti­coke head coach Ron Bruza said. “It’s tough. We’re solid. We’re young. We have some key in­juries right now, which is no ex­cuse. But we have to put it to­gether.” Con­tact the writer: dcollins@timessham­rock.com; 570-348-9125; @Don­niecollinstt on Twit­ter

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