DENVER — Before the game, Daniel Boone head coach Bill Parks explained that his players needed to “play hard, play fast and finish every play’ as they faced Cocalico at Eagle Stadium Friday night.
The Blazers played hard and fast throughout the game, but the Eagles were one step ahead of them the entire game in defeating Boone 32-14.
“From the very beginning, we didn’t match their intensity,’ said Parks. “Had we matched their intensity from the start of the game, this could have been a much different outcome.’
On the very first play from scrimmage, Cocalico running back D.J. Fabiani took a handoff for a 65-yard gain. Two plays later, Matt Weinhold pounded in a 4-yard touchdown.
Following a Blazers three-and-out, Trevor Fitchorn ran a 24-yard touchdown to give Cocalico an early 15-0 lead.
On the opening play of Daniel Boone’s ensuing drive, quarterback Nick Hughes had a miscommunication with running back Cinque Ramsey leading to a fumble recovered by Cocalico.
The Eagles moved the ball down field, and Matt McKinney hit a 34-yard field goal and it was 18-0 just nine minutes into the game.
“We spotted them 18 points and that turned out to be the difference in the game,’ said Parks. “If we played better in the first quarter, this game could have been a dogfight.’
On the other end, the Eagles were beginning to feel confident early.
“We made some good plays early, which led to a lot of confidence on our sideline,’ said Cocalico head coach Dave Gingrich. “We played with a lot of poise, which is something we have stressed all throughout the offseason.’
The Blazers answered in the second quarter as Ramsey scored from 3 yards out on the second play of the quarter to cut the Eagles’ lead to 18-7.
After a forced and recovered fumble from Zach Dickinson, the Blazers started the drive on their own 42.
The Blazers offense looked sharp, capping off the drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Hughes to Shayne Bookwalter to make the score 18-14 just under two minutes before the half.
“On the sideline, we definitely wanted to keep momentum,’ said Hughes who threw for 56 yards and one interception. “Just because we were losing early didn’t mean the game was over just yet.’
In the third quarter, both offenses seemed to be in a stalemate as neither could gain any momentum.
Hughes then was intercepted by Cocalico corner Kegerise in Eagles territory.
It was all the momentum the Eagles needed.
Haines found Moses Ulysse across the middle of the field. The receiver spun off two Daniel Boone defenders and dashed for a 39-yard gain to the 5-yard-line.
After trying to pound the ball twice, Weinhold took a handoff and ran through the line for his second touchdown giving Cocalico the 25-14 lead.
After fumble recoveries from both teams, the Eagles marched the ball down the field, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run from Haines to give Cocalico the eventual 32-14 lead.
For Daniel Boone, the 18 points given up in the early minutes definitely leave a bad taste.
Had the Blazers found a way to stop Cocalico’s offense, the outcome could have been much different, according to Hughes.
“From what we learned tonight, we need to work on capitalizing on our opponents’ mistakes and also preventing mistakes of our own,’ he said. “Who knows, maybe we could have forced an overtime tonight. But still, we definitely showed a lot of progress through the game.’
For Parks, there is a definite sense of hope for the Blazers this season.
“We still have a long way to go,’ said Parks. “Our players know what we need to do to get better next week. So we’ll just need to regroup and have a good week of practice.’