ABINGTON >> Two years ago Abington and Cheltenham played on the day after Thanksgiving thanks to sleet/snow storm that hit the area. The teams played on snow-covered Schwartzman Stadium.
Tim Sorber was heading into his 13th Thanksgiving Day matchup with long time Cheltenham coach Joe Gro. Kevin Conlin was the defensive coordinator for the Ghosts in the frigid matchup two years ago.
Friday night’s Abington vs. Cheltenham game had a different feel to it. This year’s installment came just four days after Labor Day with kickoff temperatures in the low to mid 90’s.
“This is what I liked about it — it’s not late in the year, that was probably the biggest crowd we’ve had here in a long time,” Conlin said. “A lot if it worked out perfectly for us.”
Cheltenham was the victor of the 2015 matchup as the 41-36 win capped a 1-10 season for the Ghosts. Friday night Abington snatched the title back from its cross-town rival with a 27-0 win — the first for Conlin as the new head man for the Ghosts.
“It felt great. (It) couldn’t have been any better,” Conlin said. “I equate it to getting over the mountain with the kids. We really did, finally (get) over. I told the kids, once this gets rolling down hill, we’re going to be tough to stop.”
Through the first two games of the season, Abington struggled offensively with one-core losses to Central Bucks South (13-6) and Plymouth Whitemarsh (7-0). The Ghosts offense got back on track Friday night.
“Offensively we’ve definitely struggled on the offensive line,” Conlin said. “George (Reid) has always been there, Darryl (Davis-McNeil) has had great past few weeks but right now we’ve really struggled on the offensive line and I challenged them this week.”
The Ghosts’ offensive performance was headed by running back Darryl Davis-McNeil. The junior rushed for 148 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns. Davis-McNeil also tossed an 85-yard touchdown to receiver George Reid.
“It was great,” Davis-McNeil said of getting the offensive to produce. “We had a great atmosphere.”
Reid was plenty involved in the offensive action as well. The senior finished his day with four catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.
For Cheltenham, there were plenty of things that didn’t go right from an execution standpoint. It also didn’t help that it lost its quarterback, Dylan Jones, in the second quarter due to injury.
The bottom line for the Panthers was there were too many miscues. The Panthers were penalized five times for 35 yards but the big problem was the team’s seven fumbles, four of which were lost.
“Is that all we lost, I thought we lost more than that,” Gro said half-jokingly. “It was 7-0 when Dylan (Jones) went out. We started to get a little bit of a feel for them. When he went out then (stuff) just hit the fan.”
The Panthers have sputtered a bit to the start of this season and with a roster that is far from healthy and league play looming it’s going to be a tough test for the Panthers to get this ship turned around.