BY JEFF FALK
Photos by MATTHEW BERDINKA
FREDERICKSBURG – There’s no taking anything away from the Northern Lebanon football team.
On Friday night at Fred Gahres Stadium, the Vikings used a multi-faceted offense and a staunch defense to roll over Annville-Cleona 42-6. Northern Lebanon got three touchdown passes from senior quarterback Tanner Dresche, as it opened up a 14-6 game from early in the second quarter.
Adjustments and adding options to its triple-option offense have been the key to Northern Lebanon ripping off three consecutive wins. The Vikings are now 3-2 overall and 2-0 in Section Three of the Lancaster-Lebanon League, while Annville-Cleona fell to 1-3 on the year and 0-2 in the section.
In rolling up 422 yards of total offense, the Vikings limited Annville-Cleona to a mere total of 138 yards.
“Oh yeah, we’ve got some momentum,” said Northern Lebanon head coach Roy Wall. “We’re playing relaxed and we’re playing confident. Early on, we were playing too tense. Now everyone isn’t trying to do everything on every play.”
“Our goal coming in was we wanted to take the fullback away,” said Annville-Cleona head coach Terry Lehman. “And then you want to take (QB Tanner) Dresch away. The other ones are going to get their yards.”
Of the six touchdowns the Vikes recorded, perhaps the most pivotal was the third one – a 38-yard strike from Dresch to emerging junior wide out Pat Stevens. It came with 2:06 left in the first half, just 26 seconds after the Little Dutchmen had pulled to within 14-6.
Then following an A-C turnover in the third quarter, the Vikings marched 78 yards in 15 plays to get a 17-yard scoring collaboration between Dresch and Stevens that made it 28-6.
“In our first win, Colton (Ryan) had 139 yards rushing,” said Wall. “Last week, it was Tanner. It’s (taking away the first two options) just good coaching. We expected it going in. It’s no secret. You take away the fullback, you take away the quarterback and make us pitch the ball. So we’ve had to make adjustments. We’re not going to have people dictate to us what we’re going to do.”
“I told them they grew up and played a great game,” said Lehman of his post-game message to his troops. “We didn’t quit. When they drove the ball on us we made them go the length of the field. They (his players) played tough It wasn’t a 42-6 game.”
Northern Lebanon pieced together a 14-play, 59-yard march to assume a 7-0 lead. Dresch capped the possession with a one-yard keeper with 37 seconds left in the opening stanza.
The Vikings’ second touchdown – a 24-yard pass from Dresch to Ryan Daub – was set up a nice punt return and made it 14-0 with 5:38 of the second quarter remaining.
Annville-Cleona’s offensive highlight of the evening occurred shortly thereafter. The Little Dutchmen drove 67 yards in nine snaps for quarterback Tyson Hayes’ 12-yard race to the left pylon.
“It’s a win. It’s a rival win,” said Wall. “It’s always good to win your homecoming game. Offensivley we threw the ball a little more than we usually do because that’s what they were giving us. We were able to ground and pound in the second half. And we finished drives.”
“I think they (the Vikings) and Pequea will be a good game,” said Lehman. “I don’t know how good they are. They run a good offense. They run the ball nice. Everybody has different weeks.”
Northern Lebanon put the outcome out of reach by possessing the ball for 13 plays and covering 87 yards. Daub did the honors from seven yards away with 5:29 left in the third period.
The Vikings’ final score – a one-yard Ryan burst – brought the mercy rule into play.
“I’m not surprised we’re playing like this because I thought this was how we should be playing all along,” said Wall. “Defensively, we got another good performance together. After that debacle against Lebanon, those kids have really stepped up. That’s a positive.
“Everything feeds off of it,” Wall continued. “We go on a long drive and the defense gets a three-and-out. It’s all phases of the game. We’re not putting people in bad situations.”
“We’re so happy with that effort,” said Lehman. “We had a short week, but we got better as a team. If you make them throw the ball, you did excellent as a team. That’s seniors against sophomores.”
Daub collected 111 rushing yards, Dresch totalled an even 100 and Ryan bulled for 72. Stevens caught four balls for 87 yards.
“We’ve got to play ’em all any way,” said Wall. “As of today, we’re in the playoff hunt. Last year it took us till Week Six to even think about the playoffs. We’ve turned it down and now we’re 3-2.”
“We got better this week,” said Lehman. “The delay (rain-induced postponements) might’ve hurt us. They’ve (his players) been through a lot. Obviously we’d like to have another win. We’re OK where we’re at. Our young kids are getting better.
“We want to get the next first down,” Lehman concluded. “We want to get better. We want to get a defensive stop. I’ve been down this road before. In two years I see a team that’s going to be phenomenal.”