A perfect start
MILL HALL — For the State College football team two wins and no losses certainly looks — and feels— categorically better than the 0-2 or 0-3 starts that the team has endured in recent seasons.
After their 26-7 win over Bethlehem Liberty and Friday night’s 36-7 trampling of Central Mountain, the Little Lions are off to a much-welcomed fast start before a Philadelphia trip to play Father Judge and then the grueling Mid-State Conference schedule.
And “fast” is an appropriate word not only to describe the start to this season but it also describes the Little Lions themselves. The State High skill position players possess blazing speed, and its linemen on both sides of the ball are athletic and have good size.
Against Central Mountain the Little Lions scored four touchdowns on plays longer than 30 yards, and another one set up by a 45 yard run, in a game that was essentially over by the end of the second quarter. All night, it seemed like Central Mountain defenders were frantically chasing State College ball carriers.
“We have some speed,” State College coach Al Wolski said. “We have speed at running back, we have speed at wide receiver, and our linemen are nice and athletic. We’ve told our linemen that they could be one of the best offensive lines since we’ve been here because of their athleticism. And we have size, too.”
Leading 3-0, State College’s first big play came courtesy of senior wide receiver and team leader Darian Herncane. Actually, it was two big plays by Herncane. First, with the Wildcats deep in their own territory, Herncane intercepted an errant pass from Central Mountain quarterback Travis Turchetta at the Central Mountain 40.
On the next play, State College quarterback Patrick Irwin found Herncane flying down the right sideline and lofted a high pass that Herncane hauled in for a 40-yard touchdown and a 10-0 State College lead.
After that, things went downhill quickly for Central Mountain.
In short order, State College scored on a 32 yard run by Irwin, making it 16-0 at the end of the first quarter, a 51-yard pass from Irwin to Andrew Kelly, and an electrifying 45-yard run by Ebrahim Britton to end the half at 29-0.
Then early in the third quarter, Kelly scampered in from 10 yards out after the Little Lions were set up with a 45-yard run by leading rusher Ryan Goeke (seven carries, 100 yards). That touchdown invoked the mercy rule, and with the clock running, State College was easily able to run out the remaining time.
Central Mountain did score midway through the fourth quarter on a 33-yard pass from Turchetta to Cole Renninger, but it was too late for the Wildcats to cause any trouble.
“We thought we were a little stronger up front than them,” Wolski said. “We respected (Von)
Walker (15 careries, 107 yards) and 34 (Drew Alexander). We knew they were really fine players and could beat you and score at any minute. And he (Walker) proved that. This is the third time in the last four years we have played against him, and I’m glad we don’t have to play him again.”
State College always seems to steadily improve as the season goes on, even with some of the slow starts, and it is always a threat going into the district and even state playoffs. This season, with the Little Lions not having to dig out of an early hole, could become a cause for optimism in State College, but Wolski has words of caution.
“The competition is going to get tougher now,” he said. “We are going to be playing teams that have two and three guys like Walker and probably better up front, so we’ve got to get ready for that.
“We feel that we can be good. We still have to take the attitude that we have to get better every day. We like where we are, but we know that the competition is going to get a little better now.”