BY JEFF FALK
During preseason camp, new Elco head football coach Bob Miller took the approach that his Raiders weren’t going to do a lot of things, but that the things they were going to do, they were going to do well. That mindset paid instant dividends.
Miller is undefeated as a head coach, after his Raiders took apart Hamburg 44-6 on Friday night in Myerstown. It was the back-to-basics approach and the play of the offensive line that proved decisive for Elco.
The Raiders rolled out to a 31-0 third-quarter lead and never checked their rearview mirrors. Behind 200 yards of rushing from junior quarterback/running back Cameron Strouse, Elco churned out 430 yards of total offense.
Elco, which returned seven starters on each side of the ball from a 2011 club that went 3-7, got a touchdown toss out of Strouse on its first possession of the year, a short spiral to Jake Stager. And Strouse upped the Raider advantage to 13-0 before the first quarter was through.
The Elco defense of coordinator John Carley limited the Hawks to 260 total yards, and a mere 30 through the air.
A 30-yard scamper by Strouse following a Raider take-away upped the home team’s advantage to 20-0 early in the second half. Then just before halftime, Ty Arnold knocked a short field goal through the uprights.
The Raiders opened the second half with a 70-yard scoring strike from freshman Jeff Martin to senior Adam Shoemaker.
Elsewhere in scholastic football on opening night:
Northern Lebanon 24, Pine Grove 13
In Pine Grove, the Vikings opened the campaign with their annual battle with the Cardinals, and learned a little bit more about themselves. After spotting Pine Grove a 12-7 second-period advantage, Northern Lebanon finished strong and with 20 unanswered points.
A few minutes before the intermission, a 60-yard scoring strike from sophomore signal-caller Isaac Ray to Mason Yost put the Vikings up 13-7. Then in the third stanza, Northern Lebanon turned a take-away into a Ray scoring burst and a 19-7 lead.
The Vikes capped off the frenzy as the third quarter was coming to a close, on a 30-yard touchdown jaunt by back Derek DiAngelis.
The Viking defense was difficult to penetrate all evening, as it surrendered less than 200 yards of total offense to Pine Grove. With Ray and DiAngelis combing for 160 yards on the ground, Northern Lebanon out gained the Cardinals by 80 yards of total offense.
After trailing 6-0 early, Ray hit Yost for a 30-yard scoring pass that gave Northern Lebanon a 7-6 lead in the first quarter. Next week, Northern Lebanon will play host to Lebanon High at Fred Gahres Stadium in Fredericksburg.
Tri-Valley 28, Annville-Cleona 13
In Annville, the Little Dutchmen fell into a 21-0 hole from which they couldn’t extricate themselves. Annville-Cleona posted 13 fourth-quarter points, but didn’t have enough steam to come all the way back.
First, junior transfer and Lebanon Catholic student Anthony Pletz tossed a 30-yard touchdown to former quarterback Mitch Rodkey. Then Zac Southall ran one in late to pull the Little Dutchmen to within eight points of the lead.
The Annville-Cleona defense, an area of concern last season, allowed more than 300 yards on the ground. As a matter of contrast, the Little Dutchmen posted a total yardage figure just a tick over 200.
Tri-Valley needed just six minutes of the first quarter to take a 7-0 advantage.
Northern York 22, Palmyra 7
At Buck Swank Stadium in Palmyra, the Cougars opened the post-Preston Bare-Jon Hicks era, with a disappointing 15-point loss to the Polar Bears. After playing well early, thin Palmyra wore down against persistent Northern.
The Cougars opened a 7-0, second-period lead when senior quarterback Mason Laudermilch hooked up with promising sophomore Mitchell Cooper in the end zone. The scoring-play culminated a lengthy, multiple-play possession by Palmyra.
Palmyra enjoyed that lead at halftime and protected it for eight minutes of the third period. But that’s when the Polar Bears evened the score, and thanks to a safety, Northern York exited the frame with a slim lead.
Northern York posted a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs.
On the final stat sheet, each team gained about 200 yards of total offense. Palmyra senior back Dino Faiola picked up 90 rushing yards on 20 carries.
The Cougars dressed less than 30 warm bodies for the non-league contest.