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IMG_8644BY JEFF FALK

ELIZABETHTOWN – One must remember that changing a culture, changing a climate, changing a mentality can’t be accomplished overnight. But perhaps one of the best ways to expedite the toughening up process is to take lumps.

On Friday night at Elizabethtown High School’s Thompson Stadium, the Lebanon football program received an update on its transformation progress during a 36-12 loss to the hometown Bears. After the Cedars assumed a 12-7 lead in the middle of the second quarter, Elizabethtown tallied 29 unanswered points, 23 of which came during a dominant second-half performance.

IMG_8642Most of the Bears’ second-half points came as a result of good field position, and against an increasingly weary Lebanon defensive unit. The Cedar offense did not pick up its initial first down of the second half until the final minute of the fourth quarter, well after the outcome had been decided.

There is very little question that Lebanon is better defensively and more physical up front than it was a year ago. But as of yet, that improvement has yet to fully translate to the scoreboard.

IMG_8660The Cedars are now 1-2 overall, while Elizabethtown improved to 3-0.

“The message was about the two halves,” said Lebanon head coach Gerry Yonchiuk of the post-game address to his charges. “In the first half, I thought we played well. I thought we did some really good things and moved the ball well.

“But we’ve got to come out in the second half,” continued Yonchiuk. “We’ve got to answer the bell. We got punched in the face, over and over and over again. That’s what we want to do. We weren’t able to get any movement up front. I can’t explain why it happened, but it did happen. It reminded me a lot of Cedar Crest (in Week One), when they dominated us in the second half, physically.”

IMG_8702Lebanon also enjoyed a lead of 6-0, thanks to an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with 1:45 left in the opening period, when sophomore quarterback Zakee Sailsman took it over from a yard away on fourth down. The Cedar march consisted of ten running plays and one pass.

“There’s definitely improvement,” said Yonchiuk. “It’s doing that improvement for four quarters. I really liked our chances in the second half. We’ve got to find a better way.

IMG_8769“The offense has got to get first downs and control the line of scrimmage,” Yonchiuk continued. “That’s the way it’s set up. They (the Bears) dominated the whole second half of this football game. You’ve got to give Elizabethtown credit. They were physical from start to finish.”

Sailsman was at his best in the middle of the second quarter, when he improvised, rolled right, broke containment and connected with Phil Hillesheim for a 60-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Hilleshiem certainly did his part by breaking tackles down the right sideline, as the Cedars opened a 12-7 lead, 5:55 before the break.

“He was a sophomore tonight,” said Yonchiuk of his signal-caller. “In the first half, he handled it real well. I’ve got to figure out a way to settle him down. It’s part of the growing pains.

“He’s (Sailsman) very smart,” added Yonchiuk. “He’ll do film study. He’ll clean it up. The play he made to Phil Hillesheim in the first half was nice. He’s got special ability.”



But the Bears responded 1:26 before intermission, in the form of a ten-play, 62-yard drive capped by Scott Fox’s two-yard touchdown run that made it 13-12. Then 6:50 into the second half, Elizabethtown upped its advantage to 20-12 on the strength of Fox’s nine-yard jaunt to pay dirt.

“Now we got to Section One play,” said Yonchiuk. “We came in thinking we were going to win the football game. We still thought it in the first half. But in the second half, no way.

“The defense was dead tired,” Yonchiuk added. “But they had some key moments. I thought Cody Kissinger had three key tackles in the second half. But we got tired. The guys playing defense were fighting their tails off, but we (the offense) weren’t helping them.”

IMG_8657The Cedars were held to a negative-13 yards of rushing in the second half. Overall, Elizbethtown out gained Lebanon 351 total yards to 195.

Sailsman did complete 14 of his 18 pass attempts for 124 yards. Lebanon’s Josh Kauffman carried the ball 13 times for 75 yards.

“Yes, it’s still early because that’s what the end result will be,” said Yonchiuk. “They (his players) still see the things they’ve got to straighten out. It’s a tactical plan. We want to win more, but its a whole adjustment of the game.

“Where we need to get better is with consistency and confidence,” continued Yonchiuk. “Being able to believe in yourself and knowing you can accomplish what you set out to do.”

A 32-yard field goal by Bear Dave Shank 3:15 into the fourth quarter made it a two-possession game at 23-12. Elizabethtown scored 2:13 later on Fox’s third TD run of the contest, before closing out the scoring with 1:10 to go.

 

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IMG_8661To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com, or to view more go to www.http://lebanonsportsbuzz.com/gallery-11/.

 

 

 

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Date Opponent Result
9/27:00p
Location: Lebanon High School
26 – 14Loss
9/97:00p
Location: Ephrata High School
37 – 8Win
9/167:00p
Location: Elizabethtown High School
 
9/237:00p
Location: Lebanon High School
 
9/307:00p
Location: Warwick High School
 
10/77:00p
Location: Conestoga Valley High School
 
10/147:00p
Location: Lebanon High School
 
10/217:00p
Location: Lebanon High School
 
10/287:00p
Location: Manheim Township High School
 
11/47:00p
Location: Lebanon High School
 

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