BIRDSBORO — When Owen J. Roberts opened Friday night’s non-league game against Daniel Boone with a double-digit-play scoring drive in the sweltering conditions at Brazinsky Field, you couldn’t blame Blazers coach Bill Parks for feeling a little uneasy.
For the next three and a half quarters, however, Nick Hughes, Darius Hinton and the rest of the Blazers made sure they put their third-year coach’s mind at ease.
Hughes, a junior quarterback, directed a balanced offense while Hinton spearheaded a dynamite defensive effort that carried Boone to a 32-3 victory.
“We told them before the game it was all about effort,’ said Parks, whose team had spotted Cocalico 18 points in last week’s 32-14 loss. “They came out flat last week to start the game, and that was the difference. We told them they couldn’t start that way; we’ve got to attack from the start.’
It was actually the Wildcats who appeared to be in attack mode after receiving the opening kickoff, as they marched to the red zone thanks in part to two big third-down scrambles by quarterback Mitch Bradford.
But the Blazers defense stiffened and OJR had to settle for a 30-yard field goal by Matt Dinnocenti.
“We had a couple of breakdowns on that first drive,’ Parks said. “But they gave us their best punch and we kept them out (of the end zone).’
Boone (1-1) then answered with a proverbial one-two combination that all but floored the Wildcats (0-2).
First, the Blazers put together a methodical 15-play drive culminating in a 7-yard scoring hookup between Hughes and senior wideout Shayne Bookwalter on the first play of the second quarter that put Boone up 6-3.
“That definitely did change the game,’ said the 6-foot-2, 188-pound Hughes, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 136 yards and two TDs. “We felt like it set the tone for us, coming back and punching them in the mouth. And then we just kept rolling from there.’
After allowing 56 yards on Owen J. Roberts’ initial drive, the Blazers defense limited the Wildcats to just 27 yards for the rest of the half.
While Passifione was plugging up the middle from his linebacker spot and fellow backer Cinque Ramsey was making it difficult for the Wildcats to gain the edge, the 6-2, 225-pound Hinton wreaked havoc in the OJR backfield all game from his tackle position and finished with two sacks (as did Ramsey).
“They were very quick off the ball, and that was one thing I was afraid of coming in,’ Wildcats coach Tom Barr said. “Our guys weren’t picking up their slants and their blitzes. Their quickness just hurt us. You have to give them credit.’
Boone took a 19-3 lead when Hughes hit the 6-3, 175-pound Jonathan Charles — who played at Pottstown last year — on a picture-perfect 15-yard fade route TD 4:06 before the half.
Owen J. Roberts’ last chance to get back into it was blunted when Adam Pinelli was stopped three yards short of a first down on an fourth-and-10 fake punt call from the Boone 40 on the Wildcats’ first possession of the second half.
Paul Galanti’s 2-yard TD run with 1:11 left in the third quarter put Boone up 25-3, then senior running back Jabree Stradford broke loose for an 84-yard TD run with 6:41 left in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
Stradford wound up with a team-high 98 rushing yards, with Galanti rushing for 61 yards and Hughes collecting 47 yards. Clarke had a team-high six receptions for 61 yards.
“Honestly, we talked about taking what their defense was giving us, and we did a good job of that,’ Parks said. “That’s the system we have.’
“I wouldn’t classify this as a real good game,’ Hughes said. “It’s definitely an improvement from last week, but we have a lot more work to do.’
Boone finished with a 355-187 advantage in total offense. … Pinelli ran for a team-best 38 yards for the Wildcats, who were without 6-5, 270-pound lineman Eric LeVan (ankle). … OJR’s Dan Hughes delivered a turf-aided 54-yard punt and Tony Thomas had an interception for the Wildcats.