By Shane Hennigan
For Digital First Media
CLINTON TWP. >> It took just one carry by Thomas Huffsmith for Jenkintown coach Anthony Owens to realize what he saw on film was deceiving.
The bruising senior fullback showed quickness while rumbling for 50 yards on Lackawanna Trail’s first play to set the tone for a dominant night. Huffsmith finished with 218 yards, 190 of which came on the ground, and two touchdowns and James Gillespie added 91 rushing yards and a score, as the Lions rolled past Jenkintown, 43-6, in a District 1-2 Class 1A subregional final at Lions Pride Stadium on Friday night.
Lackawanna Trail (9-3) racked up 323 rushing yards and five touchdowns on its way to the first round of the PIAA tournament next week at a site and time to be determined. The Lions will face District 11 champion Williams Valley, which defeated Marian Catholic, 34-31.
“That (50-yard run) was really big for every facet of our offense and defense,” Huffsmith said. “Once everyone’s running the ball well, it’s hard to stop the offense.”
Huffsmith’s run came after the Lions forced a turnover on downs on the game’s first drive, during which the Drakes (7-3) committed five of their 14 penalties. Quarterback Nathan Rolka capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak on third-and-goal to give Lackawanna Trail a 7-0 lead.
Following a three-and-out, Huffsmith struck again with an 11-yard run. Two plays later, Huffsmith began the second quarter with a 41-yard run and scored from two yards out on the next play before Anthony Berrios scored a two-point conversion for a 15-0 lead.
Another Jenkintown punt preceded Gillespie’s 40-yard run to begin the Lions’ third drive, which Berrios finished with a 7-yard run three plays later.
“(At that point), it’s tough,” Owens said. “The kids are a little shell-shocked, especially after a long trip. We got beat by a bigger, stronger and faster team.”
The Drakes’ woes continued when they fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which Thomas Kohinsky recovered. Gains of 17 and 12 by Huffsmith and Gillespie, respectively, set the Lions up with first-and-goal and Gillespie scored three plays later to make it 29-0, essentially putting the game out of reach with 6:17 left in the first half.
“We’re all working together and it’s a good thing,” Gillespie said of the running game. “It gives us the ability to have a balanced offense. Splitting carries, the defense doesn’t know who to prepare for. You have to plan for three different kids. It’s just awesome to have a good backfield.”