BY JEFF FALK
NEFFSVILLE – You’ve got to fight the fights you can win. If you can’t win the wars, you’ve got to locate the battles and skirmishes you can win.
Right now, the Cedar Crest football team is having a hard time identifying exactly what those battles are. But make no mistakes about it, the Falcons do want to win.
On Friday night at Manheim Township, Cedar Crest was reduced to a search for positives by the host Blue Streaks’ athleticism, their quick-strike offense and its own mistakes. Manheim Township posted the first 47 points of the Lancaster-Lebanon Section One contest, on its way to a 47-13 drubbing of the Falcons.
The Blue Streaks scored touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions of the football game. Manheim Township led 40-0 at halftime, as the second half was played under a continuous running clock brought on by the mercy rule.
After opening the season with a 67-0 blasting of rival Lebanon, the Falcons, who went 1-9 a year ago, have now dropped five straight games. Cedar Crest is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in Section One.
The win lifted Mark Evans’ Blue Streaks to 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in the section.
“We’re 1-5,” said Cedar Crest head coach Tom Waranavage. “We’re playing as hard as we can. We’ve got to get better.
“We’re just inconsistent,” Warnavage continued. “Don’t make something more out of it than it is. You’re fishing again. You can’t win with four turnovers. The kids work hard. We had a good week of practice. Sometimes – and this may sound silly – we try too hard.”
“I expect every game to be a game,” said Evans, the former Elco head coach who took his current position at Manheim Township four short months ago. “I was really concerned about their (the Falcons’) offense. They’ve been moving the football. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted our guys to be ready to play.
“I’ve been around those (Cedar Crest) kids a long time,” Evans added. “I coached some of them at Ebenezer. They’re awesome kids. They just need to keep working. They have some talent.”
There were times during the evening when the Falcons experienced difficulties matching up with Manheim Township’s skill people, mainly speedy senior receiver Tyler Karpinski. With his quick feet, Karpinski helped set up the Blue Streaks’ first two touchdowns of the game.
On the strength of Karpinski’s catching, senior Brennan Scott’s throwing and senior Raycol Martinez’s running, Manheim Township marched the opening kickoff 75 yards on nine plays to get a one-yard touchdown plunge from Martinez and a 7-0 lead. That same combination clicked again with 2:39 of the first quarter remaining, as Martinez bulled it over from a yard out for a 14-0 advantage.
“Give them credit,” said Waranavage of the Blue Streaks. “They beat us tonight. We couldn’t stop the flow. But we’ve got to do a better job of protecting the football.
“Every opponent is a big game,” said Evans, a graduate of Cedar Crest who once applied for the position that Waranavage now holds. “Sure you’re facing your alma matter, but it’s another game.
“I thought they (the Falcons) had some athletes,” Evans added. “I was concerned by their athletes. I want to be complimentary of an opponent. They (the Falcons) did some good things. But this group of kids (Blue Streaks) really likes to get after it.”
Karpinski fully took over the game late in the opening stanza, and almost single-handedly put the outcome to rest.
On the final play of the first quarter, Karpinski weaved in and out of the Falcon defense and took a punt 75 yards for the touchdown that made it 21-0. Then, after setting up Martinez for his third score, Karpinski returned another punt, this one 70 yards, for a TD that made it 34-0.
The Blue Streaks ripped off eight plays that covered at least 42 yards. A one-man wrecking crew, Karpinski caught five balls for 242 yards and put up 387 all-purpose yards.
“We’ve got to be better at blocking, sustaining our blocks,” said Warnavage. “We’ve got to get better at tackling. We’ve got to find a different way to skin the cat.
“The effort is there,” continued Warnavage. “Tonight was the sixth game for a lot of our kids. There’s something to be said for experience.”
“He’s an incredible kid,” said Evans of Karpinski. “I’ve got a word to describe him ‘Wow’, with an exclamation point. He’s a good football player, and he’s an even better kid. He’s one of the leaders on this football team.
“We have a couple of things in there (on offense),” Evans continued. “They’re (his players) working on choices. Ultimately, they’re starting to get it. They’re starting to get the idea. We’ve just got to continue to grow.”
A 90-yard pass completion from Scott to Ryan Morgan, 4:18 before the break represented Manheim Township’s 40th point.
“We turned it over four times in the first half,” said Waranavage. “You can’t do that. You can’t do that on any level. We’ve got to do a better job of coaching the kids.
“We had two tough losses to two state champs,” said Evans. “We’re starting to get it. Every week they’ve (his players) gotten better. I can’t ask for any more than that. Our coaching staff has been phenomenal.”
At times, the Cedar Crest offense experienced difficulties executing even its most basic plays.
The Falcons avoided a shutout with 9:48 left, when senior signal-caller Nick Cascarino capped a 10-play, 68-yard possession with a sneak into the end zone. Cedar Crest also scored on the final play of the game, a 28-yard hook-up between reserve quarterback Josh Bucher and sophomore Ryan Gonzalez.
The Blue Streaks amassed 472 yards from scrimmage, compared to the Falcons’ 192. Cedar Crest quarterback Nick Cascarino completed five of 20 pass attempts for 102 yards and three interceptions.
“Again, I just think that’s inconsistency,” said Waranavage. “I liked to see some of the things I saw the guys do in the second half. I think the offensive line actually played well.
“Next week is the most important game,” Warnavage added. “We don’t look back. We don’t look ahead.”