BY JEFF FALK
ANNVILLE – Annville-Cleona won a football game last night. And it was the least eventful happening that occurred in A-C’s tight-knit community over the past five days.
But what it did was bring things into perspective and signal the beginning of a return to normalcy. More the playing of it than the actual winning.
On a rainy Monday night at Annville-Cleona High School – a mere five days removed from a horrific car accident involving three members of the A-C football squad – the Little Dutchmen blanked Pequea Valley 45-0. After opening a 24-0 intermission bulge, Annville-Cleona outscored the Braves 21-0 in the second half.
Five different Little Dutchmen scored points, including running back Trevor Porche and quarterback Jeremy Bours, Jr., who tallied a couple of touchdowns apiece. Annville-Cleona out gained Pequea Valley 304 total yards to 68.
The game had been postponed from Friday to Monday by a tragic traffic accident in South Annville Township on Thursday that had hospitalized senior Dante Bonilla and two 17-year-old teammates. Two of the injured players attended Monday’s game and joined their teammates on the sideline, while the other remained in the hospital, but was said to be improving.
It seemed somewhat empty that the result left Annville-Cleona 4-3 overall and 4-2 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League. Pequea Valley fell to 0-7 on the year and 0-6 in the section.
“This is the first time in my life that I could care less about our record or the playoffs,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Matt Gingrich. “We’re all here. It puts things into perspective. We want to win, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it like in a normal year.
“In my head, if you would’ve gotten a phone call on Thursday at 7:30, and you would’ve seen the cars, and you told me won a football game and have all the kids alive, I’ll take it,” continued Gingrich. “We have all three here (on this earth) and we won a football game. Life couldn’t be better.”
The Little Dutchmen grabbed a 6-0 lead 4:55 into contest on Porche’s 44-yard run to paydirt. Then with 2:11 remaining in the opening stanza, Bours ran one in from 12 yards away to push Annville-Cleona’s advantage to 14-0.
“Thursday night when we found out, there were 15-20 kids at the house waiting,” said Gingrich. “We’re a close-knit group. On Friday, we sat down in the locker room and talked. Some guys who don’t usually get emotional were crying. We asked them ‘What don’t you understand?’ We told them, ‘It’s OK to react differently. It’s OK.’ The only thing that’s not OK is shutting down. We had a good weekend.”
“Two of the guys were here,” Gingrich continued. “Just knowing they were here and knowing they would be a distraction was great. The third one said, ‘Take care of business.'”
Annville-Cleona scored twice in a span of 3:26 in the middle of the second stanza to extend its lead to 24-0. Porche rambled in from seven yards out and Mac Plummer booted a 40-yard field goal.
“I didn’t like the fumbling,” said Gingrich of losing five of seven fumbles. “There’s different levels of ball protection. If someone makes you fumble, you’re not going to hear it from me. But I don’t like unforced errors. He’s (Pequea Valley head coach Jeff Werner) going to be displeased because they were bad plays. I’m not pleased because we lost the ball.
“But we played well on defense,” added Gingrich. “Three of the four who started on the defensive line are done for the year. Two of them we lost on Thursday night. The fact that we had a shutout is impressive. We were aggressive.”
With 16 seconds left in the third quarter, Bours turned a Brave fumble into a 14-yard scoring run and a 31-0 lead. The Little Dutchmen notched a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter – a 19-yard Chase Maguire burst and a two-yard Josh Speraw plunge.
“I was worried, very worried,” said Gingrich of the start to the game. “It’s Monday at 5 p.m., not Friday at 7 p.m. I know a couple of them (his players) were not ready to play. I didn’t know how they would respond. I was trying to get them to play at their best. Some of them needed it.
“From Thursday to today, it’s been long,” Gingrich added. “You realize how insignificant football is. It’s a mental thing, and a game-time thing. We kind of took the approach, ‘We’ll figure it out.'”
Porche carried 23 times for 173 rushing yards.
In the latest power rankings, Annville-Cleona was situated fourth in a 3-A classification which takes six teams for its District Three postseason.
at Milton Hershey
at Northern Lebanon
at Lancaster Catholic
Class AAA Power Rankings
Section Three Standings