LANGHORNE – Neshaminy head coach Steve Wilmot opened the session with his general comments on the Skins’ second win of the season, a 23-14 triumph over SOL Continental Conference rival Pennridge.
“We were pretty happy with the defense,” said Wilmot. “We gave up a few plays but overall, they were pretty stout against a pretty formidable offensive line and backfield.”
Neshaminy topped the Rams twice in 2016 including a 26-21 victory over Pennridge in a District 1 Class 6A playoff opener. The Rams, who also lost to the Skins by a touchdown during the 2016 regular season, came to Heartbreak Ridge surely looking for revenge.
“We had the mentality that it was going to be a battle – a 48-minute battle – which it turned out to be. We had the mindset that there was nothing that was going to be easy about it. If you want to win, you’re going to have to work your tail off to get it.”
Neshaminy led Pennridge, 16-14, at the half on the strength of two touchdown passes from sophomore QB Brody McAndrew to junior WR Cory Joyce and a 27-yard Matt Leonhauser field goal. Wilmot said he was not surprised by the two-point difference at halftime. While McAndrew threw for close to 300 yards, the Skins’ offense has yet to eclipse 100 yards in a game thus far.
“I thought it was going to be pretty close. I expected our defense to play well. I was hoping that our offense was going to have more of a ground game than we did. That’s something we have to improve upon.
“But Brody was out there learning, making some plays, making some mistakes here and there. The most important thing is he’s learning and he’s getting that experience that he needs.”
After completing just four passes in his first ever varsity start in the team’s 14-7 opening win over Roman Catholic, McAndrew completed 18 of 30 passes with a pair of touchdowns and no interceptions against the Rams. He also rushed seven times for 26 yards and a TD.
“Brody is a competitor. I say that every week. Sophomore year, he’s not going to be perfect. He’s going to make mistakes. What we expect him to do is to go out and compete the best way that he can.
“We think he’s going to be pretty good down the line. He just has to work through his growing pains.”
Neshaminy went for it on fourth down twice in the second half, with McAndrew completing a pass to Mike Garlick to keep the Skins’ insurance touchdown drive alive in the third quarter and another to Joyce when the team was trying to eat up the clock in the final frame.
“We know what might be there and what might not be there. The same looks we worked on in practice were the same looks we got tonight so we just went for it.”
“We have those playmakers – we have Oleh (Manzyk), we have Cory (Joyce). We also have Mike Garlick and Zach Canimore is also very capable. We had routs all over the place and Brody’s job was to find the guy that had the most space between him and the defender and throw it to him.”
“We like our skill guys. We like those three guys; they’re returners from last year when they got all kinds of experience. Now is their time.”
Junior defensive back Marcus Griffin came through with the winning strike in Neshaminy’s season-opening win over Roman, jumping a flat pattern early in the third quarter and returning the ball 25 yards for a pick-six. Griffin added a pair of interceptions in the win over Pennridge.
“It’s huge. Marcus is a very good player. He’s going to make plays because he’s that good. You’re going to see a lot of plays like that from him throughout the year because he’s very good at what he does.”
Wilmot, on Garlick’s tackle on Pennridge senior RB Josh Pinkney on the two-point conversion attempt to keep the two-point lead going into the locker room:
“The less points they score the better. But we knew it was going to be a physical second half. And we knew, offensively, we had to execute better. I think the defense really tightened the screws in the second half.”
On how it feels to be 2-0 two games into the season:
“It feels the same as being 0-0. You’re just ready for the next game. It’s good that all the hard work paid off but there’s still a lot of hard work to do. We can’t rest our laurels on the fact that we’re 2-0. We have to get ready for a good Downingtown West game (this) week.”
In finishing the session, the coach sent accolades out to the members of the D-line: Luke Hitchen, Lou DiFrancesco, Gio Figueroa and Nick Silenok.
“Our defensive line played extremely well against a stout Pennridge O-line. I saw Nick Silenok battling his butt off. DiFrancesco has been battling his butt off. Our defensive line has been doing a real nice job of getting into the offensive line.”
Last season, in just his second year as head coach, Wilmot led the Skins to an 11-1 record, overall, and an unbeaten 6-0 path to the Suburban One National League crown. The coach, on putting together a winning season:
“We didn’t set our sights on winning the league championship last year. We just take it one game at a time.
“Winning is a process; it’s not something that you wish for or something like that. It’s something that you build upon every week, doing the best you possibly can for yourself and your team.
“We don’t have any signs on the (bulletin) board, saying that that’s our goal.
“Our goal is just to play our hearts out each week. At the end of the year, if that falls into place, it falls into place.”