ROBESONIA — Dave Gingrich said a few weeks back that he would find out pretty quickly about his young Cocalico squad, based on its opponents in the first few weeks.
As it turned out, he liked what he saw Friday night in the season opener at Conrad Weiser.
Led by senior University of New Hampshire commit Noah Palm, who turned in a month's worth of production in this one game, the Eagles cruised to an impressive 42-15 victory over the defending Berks Section One champion Scouts.
Palm did most of the damage offensively, scoring on four runs of 14, 2, 61 and 35 yards. Defensively, Palm forced a fumble, which he recovered, and later returned a pick-six in the third quarter to close out an impressive 2019 debut.
“Noah is very good,” Cocalico Coach Dave Gingrich said. “And Noah practices very hard and plays very hard. He's just so tough. He made some mistakes and some bad reads, but his toughness erases some of those mistakes.”
Turning point: With Cocalico leading 7-0 in the first quarter, a bone-jarring hit by Palm in the open field forced a Conrad Weiser fumble, which he recovered, at the Scouts’ 35. Nine plays later, Palm ran it in from two yards out and Cocalico was on its way.
Star of the game: Palm, obviously. In addition to his five touchdowns, he led the Eagles in rushing with 120 yards on eight carries and was 6 for 7 through the air for another 93 yards.
Key statistic: Cocalico scored on every one of its four drives in the first half to take command. What was most impressive was a pair of sophomores, Austin Vang (11-52) and Steven Flinton (7-39), did the bulk of the ball-carrying for the Eagles, who also started two freshmen and a pair of sophomores on defense.
Quotable: “I am just so proud of how hard they played tonight,” Gingrich said. “We didn’t always execute the way we wanted to, but it’s Week One. I’m pretty pleased with the effort.”
Up next: Cocalico remains on the road with another tough nonleague contest at 7 p.m. Thursday at Cedar Cliff. Conrad Weiser travels to Fleetwood at 7 p.m. Friday.