Following Manheim Central’s 17-7 win at Cocalico on a cool Friday night, Barons football coach Dave Hahn paused momentarily during a postgame interview to hug and kiss his wife.
But an embrace wasn’t all she had for him. She then held up what appeared to be a coaster with the words “Taste Victory” emblazoned on it.
“Mrs. Flick wanted me to give this to you,” she told the coach.
She likely was referring to the mother of Manheim Central running back Tyler Flick, the league-leading rusher who was held to just six yards on four carries in the opening half before busting loose with 100 rushing yards on 17 carries in the second half.
“We just went into what we call a ‘jumbo package,’ ” Hahn said of the changes in the rushing attack after halftime. “We brought in an extra lineman. Brought in the tight ends. We brought in as many big kids as we have and said, ‘Let’s go.’ And pounded the ball.”
Tied 7-7 at the break, Manheim Central marched 66 yards on nine plays in its opening possession of the second half to score on a 2-yard dive from Flick.
“We knew we had a gameplan and had to keep with it,” Flick said afterward. “Our line opened up some holes for us. They did a great job.”
The big win not only kept the Barons (2-0 league, 5-0 overall) undefeated, but gave them some separation from Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two foe Cocalico (1-1, 4-1) at the midway point of the regular season. However, Manheim Central still has plenty of challengers remaining, as it’s currently tied for first in the section standings with undefeated Cedar Crest (2-0, 5-0) and ground-and-pound Solanco (2-0, 3-2).
Defense: For as much as Manheim Central’s ground game turned around in the second half, Friday night was about defense for both teams, featuring a pair of strong units on that side of the ball. The Barons’ offense came in averaging nearly 42 points and 479 total yards a game and was kept to season lows in points and total yards (213). Meanwhile, the Cocalico offense entered averaging about 45 points and 433 total yards a game and was also held to season-lows in points and total yards (186).
The Manheim Central defense won out in the end.
Cocalico’s only score came on a nine-play, 48-yard drive, finished off by a 13-yard keeper from sophomore quarterback Noah Palm (3 of 6 passing, 23 carries, 81 total yards), that tied things at 7-7 in the second quarter.
The Barons forced Cocalico to punt on the Eagles’ opening possession of the third quarter and, after Flick’s go-ahead score, made back-to-back fourth down stops on Cocalico’s final two possessions of the second half. A 30-yard Niko Gavala field goal with 8:59 left made it a two-score advantage for Manheim Central.
“All night long our defensive coordinator Tom Waranavage did a great job,” Hahn said.
Manheim Central had gotten the first score of the night back in the first quarter on its first play of its second possession of the game when sophomore QB Evan Simon found senior wideout Jake Novak across the middle around midfield. Novak outraced defenders the rest of the way for the 68-yard score. Simon finished 4 of 9 passing for 98 yards with the one score and an interception.
Next week: While Cocalico turns its attention to another undefeated squad — Cedar Crest — next week, Barons boss Hahn is already focused Elizabethtown (0-2, 3-2) and its formidable defense.
“Maybe I’m crazy but I’m already looking ahead to E-town,” Hahn told his players in his postgame speech. “You guys can celebrate tonight, but my mind is already on E-town.”
In other words, Hahn isn’t leaving himself much time to taste victory.