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IMG_2435BY JEFF FALK

ANNVILLE – They say that football doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

Well, if the current football campaign has taught us anything it’s that Annville-Cleona is loaded with character. But don’t think for a second there isn’t a little building going on as well.

On a cool Friday night at Annville-Cleona High School, the Little Dutchmen’s amazing emergence as a football unit continued during a 37-14 triumph over Elco, in the Lancaster-Lebanon Section Three opener for both sides. Annville-Cleona jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the first quarter was out, then after weathering a modest Raider comeback, shut out Elco the rest of the way.

The potent Little Dutchmen ground game churned out 323 rushing yards on 53 attempts. A recipient of 24 ‘dives’, A-C fullback Caleb Turner turned in a 105-yard performance.

For a sophomore-dominated Annville-Cleona squad, which is attempting to defend a Section Three championship it captured last season with a vastly different cast of characters, the result pushed it to 4-1 overall. Elco, which may be just as exuberant as A-C, fell to 1-3 on the fall and 0-1 in the circuit.

“We have 36 kids and we only have two two-way starters,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Matt Gingrich. “We have a lot of kids who are playing very, very well. And we have kids who have stepped up. The juniors have stepped up and the sophomores have definitely stepped up. I never question the effort, any day.

IMG_2467“There’s no question our leader is Noah (senior quarterback, Myers),” continued Gingrich. “He’s a quiet kid, and we’re a quiet team. We don’t talk much. But when you have kids who are respectful and own up to their mistakes, you’re bound to have success.”

“It requires a ton of discipline,” said Elco head coach Bob Miller of the Little Dutchmen offense, specifically the running game. “Coach Gingrich won’t take any credit for it, but he’s put together a heck of a system. Those (Annville-Cleona’s) kids were stronger than us. You could see it.

“Yeah (they’re the favorite to win the section),” Miller continued. “They’re just a well-coached team. They’re very competitive.”

Friday wasn’t all about the opening quarter. But the first 12 minutes of action certainly helped shape and define it.

The Little Dutchmen scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, thanks in part to a takeaway and turning the Raiders over on downs deep in their own territory. Though Elco never went away, it never fully recovered from it either.

Tailback Dominic MacMillan capped Annville-Cleona’s opening possession with a 43-yard dash to pay-dirt. Then with a short field with which to work, Turner made it 14-0 Annville-Cleona with a one-yard plunge.

Myers applied the finishing touches to the decisive opening volley by turning an interception into a nine-yard touchdown run and a three-score lead.

IMG_2425“We ran the ball very well to start,” said Gingrich. “But I thought we were getting away from what was working. We didn’t execute as well. I’m not displaced with the effort. To score three times right off the bat, we were hoping to.

“We talked about executing and playing as well as we could,” added Gingrich. “They’re (the Raiders) very young and they’re going to get better. They’ve improved immensely.”

“I’d rather give them (the Little Dutchmen) a short field and take a chance,” said Miller of his decision to go for it on fourth-down-and-two-yards-to-go from his own 28-yard line. “You saw what they did when they had a long field. I thought we would get it. It was a little short.

“It was the same start we’ve had for weeks,” Miller added. “Mix-ups and miscommunications. A lot of that can be attributed to youth.”

The Raiders got back into it with a couple of touchdowns 1:47 part in the middle of the second quarter.

Elco marched 80 yards in 13 plays to get a one-yard scoring sneak out of freshman quarterback Braden Bohannon. On its next offensive snap after forcing a three-and-out, Bohannon found receiver Jeff Lorah with a 69-yard touchdown strike to pull Elco within 21-14 of the lead.

But the Little Dutchmen regained the momentum for good with 14 seconds left before the break, when Myers converted fourth-down-and-nine-yards-to-go into a 28-yard touchdown toss to Romeo Varela.

“We’re not as happy as we’d hope to be,” said Gingrich. “Yes, that’s four wins in-a-row. Maybe that’s how I should look at it.

“Give them (the Raiders) credit,” Gingrich continued. “They played us very well. More than us, they executed their game plan. They played very well. We have to figure some things out. I wasn’t very happy last week either. If we don’t come ready to play next week (at Lancaster Catholic), it’ll be a different story.”

Annville-Cleona football 071“Did you see the effort those kids gave?,” said Miller of his charges. “There’s nothing more that a coach can ask for. We pulled the whole team together and we told them if they didn’t play with pride it was going to be a long night. We moved the scoreboard.”

Annville-Cleona pushed its advantage to 30-14 with a safety 4:29 into the second half, when Elco snapped the ball over punter Mike Reed’s head and he was forced to fall on it in the end zone.

The Little Dutchmen put the outcome to rest with 5:30 remaining, as they drove 70 yards in 13 plays – 12 runs and a single pass. Myers’ second touchdown of the evening came from four yards away.

“It’s a mentality,” said Gingrich of his team’s bruising running game. “The biggest thing is how you come off the ball. You don’t have to be a road grader or a great blocker. If you come off the ball fast, good things will happen.

IMG_2374“The reason we run that offense is we want our student-athletes playing multiple sports,” added Gingrich. “I don’t want football to be the main thing in their lives. It’s (the veer) been run since the 1970s. It works. You actually out flank the defense. You out number them.”

“We didn’t call anything differently,” said Miller of how the early deficit affected his team. “But we started making plays. It’s the little things that kill you. It’s a matter of preparation and knowing the game.

“Braden (Bohannon) is learning to experience things,” Miller added. “In the past, I would turn the whole offense over to Kyle (graduated quarterback, Knight). You’re starting to see that with Braden.”

The Little Dutchmen out gained the Raiders 346 total yards to 194.

Bohannon and Lorah collaborated five times in the passing game, for 159 yards.

 

 

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To purchase images in this article email jkfalk2005@yahoo.com.

 

 

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Annville-Cleona football 013

2017 Elco Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
09/01
Susquenita
7:00 PM L 7-41
09/08
@Palmyra
7:00 PM L 7-35
09/15
Fleetwood
7:00 PM W 36-32
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/22 *
@Annville-Cleona
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/29 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/06 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Elco High School
10/13 *
@Columbia
7:00 PM Columbia High School
10/20 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/27
Muhlenberg
7:00 PM Elco High School
11/03 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Elco High School

 

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2017 Annville-Cleona Football Schedule

DATE OPPONENT TIME RESULT
08/25
@Trinity
7:00 PM L 34-36
09/01
@Biglerville
7:00 PM W 51-13
09/08
Camp Hill
7:00 PM W 39-20
09/15
Hanover
7:00 PM W 21-14
DATE OPPONENT TIME LOCATION
09/22 *
Elco
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
09/29 *
@Lancaster Catholic
7:00 PM Lancaster Catholic High School
10/07 *
Columbia
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
10/13 *
Northern Lebanon
7:00 PM Northern Lebanon High School
10/27 *
Pequea Valley
7:00 PM Annville-Cleona High School
11/03 *
Donegal
7:00 PM Donegal High School

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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