BY JEFF FALK
SOUTH LEBANON – It was kind of like a slick-talking pitchman trying to hawk a wonder product. Not only was it too good to be true, but the price was right as well.
The Cedar Crest football team is about to deliver on head coach Rob Wildasin’s wild guarantee, because the Falcons were indeed buying what he was selling.
On Friday night at Earl Boltz Stadium, the Falcons leaned on their heart-and-soul offensive line and their bread-and-butter running game to register their most important win of the season, a 37-14 triumph over Conestoga Valley. Behind four rushing touchdowns from bruising junior Justice Belleman, Cedar Crest tallied 30 unanswered points to snap a seven-all deadlock.
The result was significant because it put Cedar Crest in the position for a possible District Three Class AAAA playoff berth. Now 4-5 overall and 3-3 in Section One of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, the Falcons could qualify for the postseason for the first time in 15 years with a regular-season ending win over Penn Manor next week, and perhaps a wee bit of help.
In the latest District Three power rankings, the Falcons were rated 16th in a Class AAAA field which takes 16 for its playoffs. The district playoffs have been Wildasin’s rallying cry since taking over the Cedar Crest program last season, and he has remained committed to the resolve, after going 3-7 last season and despite starting this season 2-5.
Should the Falcons qualify for the District Three Class AAAA playoffs they would be the fourth L-L Section One club to do so. They would also be one of three or four Lebanon County teams to qualify for the district postseason, a feat that could be historic in these parts.
With the loss, Conestoga Valley fell to 3-6 on the year and 2-4 in the circuit.
“You didn’t believe me, but you wanted to,” said Wildasin of his brash prediction. “We have a game left. We’ll prepare for Penn Manor. If we were 0-9, we’d prepare for the game in the same way. That’s just the way we go about our business. But the kids have totally bought in.
“That’s (districts) our goal,” continued Wildasin. “It’s talked about on a regular basis. I thought if we could get wins where we needed them and pull off a few surprises, we could do it. But it really hasn’t worked out that way.”
Running hard between the tackles of their dominant offensive line, Belleman and the Falcons executed their game plan with methodical perfection. Picking up rushing yardage in chunks, the Falcons engineered no less than three drives of 74 yards or more.
Seemingly getting stronger with the more work thrown his way, Belleman churned out 256 yards on 36 carries. As a team, the Falcons piled up 408 yards on the ground, on 68 attempts. The Falcons threw the ball only four times all night.
“Justice’s game was solid,” said Wildasin. “Our offensive line is dominant. When you get three or four yards down field until you get hit, that means they’re doing their jobs. The offensive line is where it starts.
“They’re (the offensive linemen) our driving force,” Wildasin added. “They do a great job. If they do well, we do well. They’re the heart and soul of the team.”
With the score knotted at seven midway through the opening period, the Falcons drove 78 yards in ten plays to get an 11-yard touchdown out of Belleman. Then, 3:49 into the second quarter, Cedar Crest turned an interception into a one-yard Belleman plunge and a 21-7 margin.
“That’s a good win,” said Wildasin. “But no, that was not the best game we played. We had too many mistakes in the first half, on offense and defense. I don’t know which was the best game we played, but this wasn’t it. I don’t know if we’ve played a complete game all season.
“I think most high school and college teams feel that way (don’t throw the ball if you don’t have to),” Wildasin continued. “It’s (throwing the ball) a little more of a risk.”
Cedar Crest owned a 30-7 advantage at the break, thanks to nine points in a 49-second span late in the second quarter.
Belleman’s third touchdown – a four-yard burst – culminated a nine-play, 79-yard Falcon possession and gave them a 28-7 lead. Cedar Crest recorded a safety with 2:07 left before the intermission, when Conestoga Valley snapped the ball through the end zone out of punt formation.
“We needed to come out and score in the second half,” said Wildasin. “We got a stop, and ended up winding down the clock with another drive. After that, I felt comfortable.
“They (the Buckskins) were doing a lot defensively to mess with us,” added Wildasin. “Our offensive line did a good job of picking things up. And our running backs did a good job of being patient.”
The Falcons grabbed a 7-0 lead 6:42 in, on a 14-yard touchdown pass between the Horn brothers – freshman quarterback Logan and senior slot Evan. But Conestoga Valley tied the score 22 seconds later, with a 52-yard scoring collaboration from Grant Stoltzfus to Jordan Yoder.
“It’s huge,” said Wildasin of the outcome. “We’re guaranteed a 4-6 record, which isn’t exciting to some people. We’ve got a shot at 5-5.
“We constantly talk about districts,” Wildasin continued. “That’s our goal. It is absolutely in sight. No, we can not say the season has been a success, because we haven’t attained it yet. Penn Manor is going to be hungry and ready to play.”
Cedar Crest opened its lead to 37-7 and effectively put the result to rest, with 1:35 left in the third quarter. The 11-play, 74-yard march was almost exclusively Belleman runs, including the two-yard jaunt that ended it.
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CC — L. Horn 14-yard pass to E. Horn (Peffley kick)
CV — Stoltzfus 52-yard pass to Yoder (Martin kick)
CC — Belleman 11-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Belleman 1-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Belleman 4-yard run (Peffley kick)
CC — Safety
CC — Belleman 2-yard run Peffley kick)
CV — Martin 22-yard pass to Yoder (Martin kick)
Rushing — CC: Justice Belleman 36-256, Evan Horn 8-69, Kobe Bolanos, 5-54, Logan Horn 7-22, Nate Troveringer 3-9, Greg Munnion 1-5, Tanner Miller 1-3, Stevie Roda 2-1, AJ Apple 3-(-1), Team 2(-6). CV: Connor Brinton 17-70, Kole Martin 5-40, Jerrice Stokes 1-5, Jose Barbon 1-0, Team 1-(-16).
Passing — CC: L. Horn 1-3-15-1, Roda 0-1. CV: Grant Stoltzfus 10-21-132-1, Martin 4-5-61-0.
Receiving — CC: E. Horn 1-14. CV: Jordan Yoder 4-86, K. Martin 5-60, Hanna 2-27, Brinton 1-15, Jose Barnon 2-5.
2015 Cedar Crest Football Results
|7:00 PM||W 41-7|
|7:00 PM||L 13-35|
|7:00 PM||L 14-30|
|7:00 PM||W 34-10|
@Wilson West Lawn
|7:00 PM||L 14-35|
|7:30 PM||L 12-21|
|7:00 PM||L 35-38|
|7:00 PM||W 25-7|
|7:00 PM||W 37-14|
|7:00 PM||Cedar Crest High School|
Section One Standings
|Wilson West Lawn||6-0||8-1|