Written by Jeff Falk
Success in high school sports can be cyclical. And because it is, the Cedar Crest football program will rebound.
When it does, the Ebenezer midget football progam will be a big reason why.
Over the years, no source has been a bigger supplier of football talent for the Falcons than Ebenezer. Now it appears the Raiders are poised to make a big difference again.
This fall, Cedar Crest limped to a 1-9 mark under second-year head coach Tom Waranavage. In 2009, Cedar Crest posted a 4-6 record, its best since 2005 and one that counted one more win than it had in the previous three years combined.
But it appears help is on the way.
With talent-laded rosters, Ebenezer lost a total of one game over the last two years in the Lebanon Valley Midget Football League. This season, the Raiders went 8-0-1 on their way to the LVMFL championship.
“I’ll tell you what, if our last year’s kids and this year’s kids come together, it’s going to be something for Cedar Crest,” said Alonzo Apple. “If they continue to play, which I think they will, Cedar Crest should be ready to go.”
Apple is president of the Ebenezer Midget Football Association and an assistant coach for the team. A 1989 graduate of Lebanon High School, Apple starred in football and baseball for the Cedars, back in the day.
“I don’t know that,” said Apple, when asked for some reasons for the Falcons’ current struggles. “Right now, they’re just young. They may even be able to turn it around next year and have a better season than they had the last two years.”
Cedar Crest should feel the full effects of the Ebenezer impact in 2013, when the Raider ‘graduates’ are juniors and sophomores. The Falcons’ last two junior high teams went undefeated.
“Coach Waranavage is a good guy,” said Apple. “He helps out all of the Cornwall-Lebanon midget programs. He’ll give you anything you need. And we try, at Ebenezer, to do the same programs as the high school team. Our kids know their numbering system because we do the same thing as Cedar Crest.”
But just because kids experienced success at the midget level does not mean they will fare as well on the high-school varsity level.
Some kids mature faster than others. Some kids gravitate towards other sports. Some kids gravitate away from sports all together.
“Exactly. I’m going to say 80 percent of midget players go on to play high school football,” said Apple. “Some of them grow and then stop growing. If you have a phenomenal 12-year-old who has hair on his body it means he matured faster than the other kids. You’re right. Just because you’re good in midgets doesn’t mean you’re going to be good in high school.
“Football’s not for everyone,” Apple continued. “Maybe a lot of kids get there (high school) and say ‘I’d rather play basketball.’ Or they say, ‘I’m going to play baseball.'”
But no matter what happens to these current Raiders in the future, no one will ever be able to take from them their midget success.
“We had an awesome season,” said Apple. “We didn’t think we’d be as good as we were. We had some big boys this year. Last year we had more team speed. This year we had size. We had probably the best play in all the league in Evan Horn.
“Coming into this year, I thought we’d be decent,” Apple added. “Unitl I saw the guys in August. The 11s (year-olds) we had last year played sparingly. It was going to be something new to them. But they executed well.”