Manheim Central Suffocates Muhlenberg Amid Scoring Explosion As Barons Roll To 70-Point Shutout Victory
In some ways, particularly if you fancy yourself as a religious reader of these postgame recaps that I type up and submit on a weekly basis for the viewing pleasure of one and all (god bless your brave soul by the way), but if you know that I am going to be recapping a Manheim Central Barons’ game, you probably have a good idea on how the preamble will start. For example, the script would probably be something along the lines of some lengthy romanticized script about how the town of Manheim itself has quite literally forged an identity in and of itself based upon the exploits of its high school football program (it has) while also highlighting how their prowess on the statewide level begins in its own backyard when you consider the scores of Lancaster-Lebanon League section titles the program has claimed (um, it’s the type of success that other programs would drool over for just a morsel of), along with detailing their immense success in terms of competing at the District 3 level (the winningest program in that regard too). Sure, we could do that. But oddly enough, that might be doing the 2022 edition of the Barons a bit of a disservice. Granted, while they undoubtedly recognize and appreciate the privilege and nuance that comes with donning the script “Barons” on their lids every Friday night, this particular cast and crew through the first five weeks of this season deserve their own moment in the sun.
Coming into the year, albeit in a new and truly improved landscape that is Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Two this season, Manheim Central began the campaign as one of, if not the odds-on favorite to hoist the divisional hardware come Week 10 in the chilly autumn air just three days shy of Halloween. Spoiler alert- but if the first five weeks are to serve as any sort of indication here, those returns on initial investments have yielded rather nicely should you have partaken of the opportunity to do so. Case in point, in terms of the competition found on the Barons’ schedule thus far that can claim a Pennsylvania mailing address, the boys from “Football Town” have largely been untested through the halfway mark of the season given their average 46-3 score against commonwealth competition. In fact, Manheim Central needed to travel outside its borders –well, have said opposition travel across state lines on their behalf that is – as the Barons needed two overtimes to finally squelch Immaculata by way of New Jersey for a thrilling 44-43 triumph at the friendly confines of Elden Rettew back on Labor Day weekend. Suffice to say, even amid all the proud history that the program itself can rightly boast about, this latest ensemble has been turning heads too.
Speaking of success that spans over a prolonged period of time, while Muhlenberg may not have the lengthy list of glitzy titles that can rival that of Manheim Central’s resume historically (who can though really), it’s not as if the school from the right outside of Reading city is completely devoid of its accomplishments of course.
That said, while it admittedly has been a minute by and large for the Muhls in terms of competing amongst the upper echelon of programs from around the mid-state, one could reasonably argue that Muhlenberg was one of the highest-achieving programs from the late ’90s until the start of the 2010s, something perhaps best evidenced ironically enough by their three games against none other than Manheim Central during that span of time in the District 3 playoffs –two of which occurred in the championship round no less – with the Barons having emerged as the victor in all three affairs. And sure, while it’s been quite some time since the likes of Jordan Kipp have been calling the signals from behind center for the Muhls, perhaps the program’s new lease on life, yes, albeit while competing within the confines of the arduous neighborhood that is the new-look L-L Section Two grouping, the Muhls traversed their way into Manheim on Friday night just one game under .500 on the campaign with a 2-3 mark, including an emphatic 47-25 triumph over the Lebanon Cedars back in the fourth week of the season.
And with it, the stage was set for either one of two narratives to eventually take shape and round into form. Firstly, either Manheim Central would pick up right where they had left off coming into the night in terms of exuding their dominance against the opposition standing on the other sideline, or Muhlenberg would be able to take a giant step forward in respect to the pouring of the mold for the foundation of this newest chapter of Muhls’ football.
Well, it became readily apparent that it would be the former. In a very loud and resounding way no less.
To begin the contest on Friday night, Manheim Central started with the ball first and steadily and methodically began their operation on the patient that would be the Muhlenberg defensive unit with effective incisions. In fact, no sooner than Manheim Central junior quarterback, Zac Hahn began spraying the ball around the yard to the embarrassment of riches he has at his disposal in terms of a starting wide receiver crew on the first few plays of the evening, did the Barons finally put it on the ground. And eerily, just as was the case in the Barons’ game against Warwick last week, the first time that Manheim Central’s Brycen Armold stuck his foot in the ground and got vertical, his eventual journey into the endzone was all but sealed as the Barons’ junior running back promptly scampered 43-yards this time around for the MC touchdown just 1:27 into the contest as senior kicker Dylan Neff’s PAT made it a 7-0 Barons’ cushion before anyone in attendance really had a chance to sit down and get comfortable on the Elden Rettew bleachers.
Bless their hearts in trying to achieve that objective though because the patrons’ attention would quickly be diverted back to the field of play routinely on Friday night. For proof of that, just look to the next 1:05.
While getting down in a hole to Manheim Central to begin the game is far from ideal, so too is giving the ball right back to them, particularly with them perhaps taking over right on the doorstep of potentially cashing in on another score. Well, unfortunately for guests from Berks County, that is precisely what happened as a fumble on the Muhls’ first offensive play from scrimmage was promptly pounced upon by Manheim Central senior defensive end, Jaden Weit, effectively allowing the Barons’ O to set up shop and feel cozy while inside the Muhlenberg 10-yard line. And from there, Armold quickly picked up right where he had left off just moments’ prior as his latest TD run, this of the 6-yard variety, following the Weit fumble recovery made it a 14-0 Barons’ advantage following multi-sports star Abbie Reed’s PAT with 9:28 still left to play in the opening period.
But by then, the die had already been cast for this night would unfold from there on out.
Sure enough, after holding the Muhls to a three-and-out their next time with it, more ill-timed mishaps cruelly went against Muhlenberg. In this instance, a mishandled snap on the would-be punt would spell more doom as the Manheim Central special teams calvary quickly swarmed in, allowing MC to trot the offense back onto the field while at the Muhls’ 4-yard line.
Again, as he had done all game long up until that point, Brycen Armold would be the one to carry the Barons’ mail across the chalk line as his 3-yard touchdown run shortly thereafter upped the hosts’ advantage to a 21-0 count following Neff’s PAT this time around with 6:56 still left in the opening frame.
Then, after being stymied by yet another quick three and out offensively, Muhlenberg’s defense came back onto the field while staring up at the sizable three-touchdown hole they currently found themselves in.
That said, the misfortune of the early going up until that point didn’t seem to deter Darnell Evans all that much as the Muhls’ junior defensive end was able to register a determined 15-yard sack to his credit, effectively putting the Barons behind the sticks to begin the series. However, the good momentum and juju that came with Evans’ big defensive play was extinguished almost just as quickly considering just two plays later –on 3rd & 23 no less – was Zach Hahn able to find fellow junior, wideout Bode Sipel, leaking behind the Muhlenberg secondary as the 11th grade tandem was good enough for the 46-yard pitch and catch, setting MC up with a fresh set of downs with the ball just resting a gnat’s eyelash shy of the endzone. From there, Hahn went back up top when it came time for him to tally his first points of the evening personally as his 2-yard flip to senior running back, Rocco Daughtery, completed the Barons’ fourth score of the opening frame. And following Reed’s second successful venture on PAT duties, the hosts had suddenly created a gigantic 28-0 cushion for themselves with just over three minutes remaining still in the first quarter of play.
And yet again, simply nothing would seem to throw the Manheim Central machine to continue barreling down on the tracks.
After you guessed it, another three-and-out defensively, the Barons’ collective nose for the endzone remained up to snuff. In fact, after just one play on this ensuing offensive series was Manheim already knocking on the door of another score thanks to a 20-yard pitch and catch from Hahn to another talented wideout, Sonny Callahan, as the junior duo helped usher the Barons’ attack down to the Muhlenberg 17-yard line. From there, MC needed travel no further before finding paydirt as Hahn’s 17-yard strike to Sipel made it a 35-0 affair following Neff’s PAT which is where things would remain once the final 23 seconds eventually bled off the first quarter clock.
Ironically enough, the second quarter would begin on an even faster note than the quarter which had just preceded it. In fact, it took all of one play.
Yes, on the very first play of the new quarter, another Manheim Central fumble recovery, this one tallied by senior linebacker, Kahlen Watt, allowed the Barons to begin their offensive attack on the Muhls’ 40-yard line. And after a long pass along the sidelines from Hahn to Daugherty which put the Barons on the precipice of another touchdown with the ball now residing on the Muhlenberg 4-yard line, Manheim Central’s fifth score of the opening half was punctuated with a 4-yard dart into the back of the endzone via Zac Hahn into the waiting hands of Aaron Enterline, making it an incredible 42-0 difference with 10:38 still left to play before the halftime recess.
Finally, on their ensuing offensive series –and surely not a moment too soon as far the visitors had to be concerned – did Muhlenberg finally pick up their initial first down of the contest. For that, the Muhls turned to the powerful running style offered up by junior running back, Ulices Ramirez, as Ramirez’s long gallop up the heart of the Manheim Central defense put the Muhls on the verge of crossing the midfield stripe for the first time all night long. However, after being stymied following an unsuccessful 3rd & 5 attempts at their own 48-yard line, it was time to punt it away once more to the potent Manheim Central troops.
Indeed, not even having a touchdown wiped off the board due to an ineligible man downfield would do much if anything to slow down the Barons’ ongoing onslaught on the ensuing series.
In fact, on the very next play following the yellow laundry which had littered the field on said penalty was Manheim Central able to find the endzone relatively undeterred as a 45-yard untouched sprint through the Muhls’ defense courtesy of Brycen Armold, the junior’s fourth touchdown run of the opening half, made it a 49-0 count following the Neff PAT with 5:09 left to go before the halftime break.
Still time on the clock you say? Well, plenty of time left to score at this rate.
This time, sustaining a drive would not be in the cards as far as the Barons were concerned. No, not when you have the ability and propensity to strike from anywhere on the field at a moment’s notice, such as the case here when a simple Hahn flick of the wrist down the field to Enterline led to the 67-yard touchdown completion between the two, on what turned out to be a one-play drive, a long touchdown play which had effectively served as the exclamation mark for an absolutely torrid first half of play authored by the Barons given the 55-0 lead they took with them into the halftime respite once the final 1:56 ticked off the second quarter clock from there.
In a sense, it seemed as if Manheim Central had made scoring such a habit up until that point that they in theory perhaps did not even need to touch the ball themselves in order for more points to be tallied in their favor. Ironically, that very theory would indeed be validated into fact inside the opening minutes of the third frame as no one from either team actually put the hands on the ball whatsoever as an errant snap of a would-be Muhlenberg punt trickled harmlessly out of the endzone for the safety, making it a 57-0 Manheim Central advantage just 1:58 into the second half.
And after getting the ball back on offense following the punt away following the aforementioned deuce, the Barons continued their more traditional residency inside the endzone as a 39-yard touchdown gallop on the ground by way of Jaden Weit was good enough to push Manheim Central past the 60-point threshold to the tune of a 64-0 buffer with 9:33 still left to play in the third at that point.
Once inside the fourth quarter, it appeared as if Muhlenberg may finally begun to show some signs of mounting a potential drive to potentially crack that pesky goose egg still listed under their name up on the scoreboard. That certainly seemed to be the case on a 16-yard completion thrown by senior trigger man, Drew Fidler, into the mitts of a fellow senior, Jayden Capellan, as the Muhls now found themselves at their own 43-yard line following the nice completion between the pair.
However, this march too would be met with an abrupt and unfortunate ending as well considering that a magnificent interception by Manheim Central’s Kylen Watson from his secondary position not only eliminated any Muhlenberg aspirations of scoring for the evening but the Barons’ junior defensive back long and winding subsequent return of the theft went down to the Muhls’ 13-yard line, so clearly laying the groundwork for another potential Manheim Central touchdown to perhaps come to fruition.
Sure enough, the home-standing still in attendance wouldn’t have to wait long for that validation as a 4-yard touchdown scamper by sophomore quarterback, Kadin Dabich, was good for the final score of the evening, a night so clearly bathed in Manheim Central maroon and white gave the eventual 70-0 triumph which the Barons were to post at the hands of Muhlenberg while also improving to 6-0 on the year as a whole.
NEXT UP: At this point, especially given what transpired over the course of 48 minutes on Friday night at Elden Rettew Stadium, does Manheim Central show any sorts of signs of perhaps slowing down whatsoever? And that’s a good thing too given that the Barons will line up next week against Lebanon, follow that up with a home date against old rival Conestoga Valley, before a two-game Berks County swing to close the regular season slate against the likes of Governor Mifflin and Exeter respectively, the latter of which is not so subtly shaping up to be one of the best in all of the state come Week 10 should both the Barons and Eagles continue on their respective warpaths each seem to be on provided that each can enter that contest pitting 9-0 records against one another for the right to settle Section Two once and for all. And with the Barons residing in the District 3-4A standings, there’s more than sufficient evidence put forth thus far to suggest and believe that Manheim Central will be playing football into Thanksgiving this year, potentially beyond that as well, making for yet another delay for the Barons’ wrestling and boys’ basketball –girls’ hoops too this year thanks to Abbie Reed — having their full compliment of players once it’s time for the winter sports season to begin in earnest. But in these parts, they know what to expect in that regard and they truly do plan for it. In other words, keep a few pages open in that illustrious Manheim Central history book for the 2022 crew. They may have their own chapter to add before all is said and done this year.
On the other side, it’s obvious that this was and will be a painful loss for Muhlenberg to try and work themselves back from. But in the world of L-L Section Two football, time waits for no man which happens to be the case for the Muhls next Friday night when they tangle with Exeter in all Berks County matchup, the same Exeter squad which just defeated Warwick to the tune of a 47-7 final verdict this week no less. But as is the case with the building a proud program back up, here too with the current task that head coach John Lorchak finds himself on at the moment while in charge of the Muhls, it’s important to not necessarily got bogged down with what the final resume will end up looking like come to the end of 2022 in Muhlenberg. Instead, it will be the little things that count. The things others may perhaps gloss over and overlook. For instance, if the Muhls come out next week spitting fire while also remaining sound, disciplined, and focused, you’ll know right then and there that this is a high-character bunch if they can show that kind of mettle and resolve just seven days after suffering a 70-point defeat. But if you are into the more macro picture, there are still a few games on the Muhls’ remaining schedule for them to try and pick up some more victories before heading into the ultra-important offseason program regimen. After all, this new-look Section Two will be so much more valuable when Muhlenberg is that same potent tour de force that they were not all that long ago. Here’s to hoping those days are right around the corner, not just for the Muhls themselves, but for the betterment of the entire conference as a whole.
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