Daniel Boone defense lifts Blazers

By Darryl Grumling

For The Mercury

BIRDSBORO >> For Daniel Boone’s football team, Cocalico had been the personification of the term nemesis.

Much like the New York Mets have owned the Phillies in Major League Baseball this summer and the New England Patriots have frustrated the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL stage in recent years, the perennial Lancaster-Lebanon Section 2 powerhouse Eagles have continually had the Blazers’ number.

Until Friday night.

Thanks to a dynamite defensive effort spearheaded by Cinque Ramsey, Sean Seifert, Ian Rathgeb and Jared Gaspari and a typically gutsy effort by quarterback Nick Hughes, Daniel Boone finally got proverbial monkey – this one more like an 800-pound gorilla – off its back with a stunning 7-0 season-opening victory at Brazinsky tadium.

Boone, which had dropped all six previous encounters against Cocalico, got a third-quarter scoring run and game-high 125 rushing yards from Hughes while its defense did the rest.

“The defense,” said Blazers coach Bill Parks, “was phenomenal.”

That ‘D’ bent a whole bunch on Cocalico’s methodical opening drive. But Devyn Glenn got a piece of Matt McKinney’s 27-yard field goal attempt and the Eagles wound up coming away with nothing to show for a 22-play drive that consumed 10:07.

The Eagles appeared to be in business again in the second quarter when D.J. Fabiani intercepted an ill-advised Hughes toss into double coverage and returned it to the Boone 28. But Hughes atoned four plays later by batting down Moses Ulysse’s fourth-down heave.

“We worked hard all week,” said Seifert, a hard-hitting senior linebacker, “and it showed tonight.”

Boone’s defense closed out the first half in style, as Ramsey and Tavian Moyer combined to sack Eagles QB Brady Sawyer on a play that began from the Blazers’ 35.

Then the Blazers began the third quarter with the game’s lone scoring drive, a nine-play, 77-yard march.

Hughes got things rolling by ripping off a 33-yard run on a second-and-20 play from the Boone 13, with 15 yards being tacked on by a facemask penalty.

The 6-1, 195-pound senior followed that up by making a big-time throw on an out pattern to hook up with Ryan Okuniewski for a 16-yard strike on a fourth-and-14 situation.

Two plays later, Hughes – who racked up 102 second-half rushing yards – raced 18 yards on a keeper to break the scoreless deadlock with 8:08 left in the third quarter.

Cocalico, which opened last season with a 32-14 victory over the Blazers and then took down Boone 24-6 in the District 3-AAA semifinals, had no answer the rest of the way.

“Since November of last year, these guys have been raring to go to get this win,” Parks said. “This is huge. They (the Eagles) are a very good football team; a powerhouse.”

Eagles feature back Hunter High (team-high 108 yards) started to get on track late in the third quarter, as Cocalico moved into the red zone. But on a fourth-and-6 play from the 19, the Blazers swarmed Fabiani on the left flank for no gain to stymie another drive.

Cocalico had one last chance to draw even in the final quarter before Rathgeb delivered a fourth-down sack at the Boone 42 in the final four minutes to enable the Blazers to run out the clock and celebrate a win that no doubt raised a lot of eyebrows around Berks County and District 3.

“We just played hard and played together on defense,” Seifert said.

“Our mental toughness came through,” said Hughes. “Everybody knew their assignments, everybody was flying to the ball and everyone pulled together. It was definitely a great way to open the season.”

NOTES >> Ramsey rushed for 57 yards while also collecting 1.5 sacks and also tallying a tackle for loss. … Boone kicker Drew Kresge hammered two touchbacks, including an opening kickoff that barely missed splitting the uprights. Kresge also averaged 35 yards for his three punts. … The game was delayed for approximately 20 minutes midway through the third quarter, when Cocalico’s Austin Sweigart suffered what was initially diagnosed as a compound fracture in his leg and wound up being stretchered into an ambulance. … Daniel Boone plays host to Octorara next Friday, while Cocalico entertains Ephrata.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply