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Manheim Central wins a thriller over Smyrna, 37-36, thanks to Aaron Enterline’s heroics

Written by: on Friday, September 1st, 2023. Follow Joseph Santoliquito on Twitter.


WILMINGTON, DEL — Aaron Enterline was blinking as if someone flashed a bright light into his eyes. When the gangly, Manheim Central senior wide receiver thought about it, he found it a little hard to believe when the improbable scenario was repeated to him.

With 18 seconds left, with his starting quarterback out after a late hit, with his team trailing by five, on a fourth-and-10, and 38 yards away from victory, Enterline was depending on a sophomore backup quarterback throwing his first varsity pass.

Enterline knew he caught it. He just could not feel the ball in his hands his body was so numb.

Somehow, Enterline outreached three defenders for an arcing moon ball, then whirled around to run the remaining 11 yards untouched for the game-winning touchdown in the Barons’ thrilling 37-36 win over Smyrna (Del.) on Friday afternoon in the inaugural Mid-Atlantic Pigskin Classic football showcase at Salesianum School’s Abessinio Stadium, in Wilmington, Delaware.

“When I went up, I knew I was going to catch it, but I kind of went numb,” recalled Enterline, who is getting PSAC’s attention along with a spattering of D-I looks. “I didn’t feel the ball in my hands. This shows we can fight back. We started fast, and then we got into our own heads. We let them take the lead when we were up by 21.

“We have good teams on our schedule and this is really going to help us.”

At the outset, Manheim looked like it would blow out Smyrna, the defending Delaware Class 3A state champions. The Barons got out to a 21-0 lead, scoring twice in the first quarter on a Zac Hahn three-yard run, followed by Hahn’s 16-yard TD toss to Enterline with 4:12 left in the opening quarter.

At the time, anything the Barons wanted to do, they did.

Smyrna, however, was not exactly ready to quit. The Eagles began moving the ball behind the combination of quarterback Drew Marks and running back Dior Mackey. The Barons (2-0) did not seem to have an answer to the Smyrna duo, who stung Manheim for their two scores of the first half, one on a 75-yard touchdown connection, and the other on a 14-yard TD pass with :14 left in the first half.

By intermission, what looked like a blowout was taking on the form of a competitive game.

It morphed into more than that.

Smyrna, with its crazy wildcat formations, and earthquake plays, makes huge last-second personnel changes to confuse the defense, scratched back. The Eagles scored twice in the fourth quarter, taking their first lead in the game, 36-31, with 3:06 to play.

“We lost our composure when we got ahead and they started jawing,” Manheim Central coach Dave Hahn said. “We didn’t play our game then. That’s not our thing. We don’t jaw. We play our game, play fast and we play physically. That hurt us.”

It also set the stage for Enterline’s heroics.

The Barons drove back, with some help from a late-hit call with 1:08 left. That placed the ball at the Smyrna 38. After a nine-yard completion, Zac Hahn was nailed for a nine-yard sack. Faced with a third-and-10 at the 38, Hahn threw an incompletion and appeared to be hit late. More significantly, he rose off the turf slowly, suffering a wrist injury after getting plowed into the ground.

Dave Hahn had no other choice than to throw in sophomore Ray Lewis, who never threw a pass in a varsity game. Dave Hahn gave Lewis one simple direction: Throw it as high as he could look for Enterline and take it from there.

It worked to perfection.

“That was it, I told Ray to just put it up and let Ray highpoint it,” Dave Hahn said. “It was a great play, and I do not want to take anything away from Ray, but Aaron made that play.

“What we take from this is that we are a pretty good team if we maintain our composure. If we stick to our game plan and play our football, we’re pretty tough to beat. I found out this team has some fight in them. When they went up on us, these guys could have packed it in. We kept fighting. We needed to see that.”

Scoring Summary

Smyrna (0-1) 0 14 8 14-36

Manheim Central (2-0) 14 10 7 6-37

1st Quarter

M – Zac Hahn 3 run (Drew Greiner kick), 6:19

M – Aaron Enterline 16 pass from Hahn (Greiner kick), 4:12

2nd Quarter

M – Brycen Armold 10 run (Greiner kick), 10:54

S – Dior Mackey 75 pass from Drew Marks (pass failed), 5:22

M – Greiner 35 FG, :42

S – Mackey 14 pass from Marks (Timothy Yancy run), :14

3rd Quarter

S – Phoenix Henriquez 65 pass from Jacob Tiberi (Jaydin

Price run), 11:03

M – Brycen Armold 10 run (Greiner kick), 2:45

4th Quarter

S – Timothy Yancy 1 run (Mackey run), 11:07

S – Henriquez 45 pass from Tiberi (run failed

), 3:06

M – Enterline 38 pass from Ray Lewis (run failed), :18

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been covering high school football since 1992 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter @JSantoliquito. Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball.

Follow on Twitter @EPAFootball

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