Instant Classic?: West Football Nips East
For the October 21st Bucks County Herald
The wind- Old Glory flew straight out at times in War Memorial Stadium on Friday night- and an equally stiff C.B. East Patriot defense ensured that C.B. West quarterback Ward Udinski would have difficulty winning with his arm.
So he went with his legs instead.
Udinski’s two rushing touchdowns gave West almost all of it’s scoring in the Bucks (5-2, 2-2) 13-12 thriller over archrival East (3-4; 2-2).
In a game where both defensive coordinators- East’s Chris Felton and West head coach Brian Hensel- needed to take a bow.
“We had a lot of concerns coming into tonight with the weather. It wasn’t too bad but we were definitely cautious about throwing the ball,” said Udinski, a senior. “Their secondary is very skilled with a lot of experience and they took away some of our pass plays.”
“Chris Felton put together a masterful plan. I thought their defense rose to the occasion. He had the right guys in the right places to slow us down,” Hensel credited.
The game’s first offensive breakthrough occurred when West fullback Jake Poeske broke off a 52-yard run midway through the first quarter. Yet East standout linebacker Justyn White recovered a West fumble three plays later.
The West “D” struck back, stopping White on fourth-down after East mounted a 13 play drive.
Back and forth the defenses went, with East DL Brennan Long killing a drive with a third-down sack of Udinski, followed immediately by West’s defense forcing a three-and-out.
The shutout finally ended late in the second quarter. Five Rashaad Williams’ runs took the ball from midfield to the East-1; Udinski’s quarterback sneak made it 7-0 Bucks.
East assembled a 13-play, 94 yard scoring march to open the third. Quarterback Josh Bernard picked up 20 yards on a third-down bootleg; eight plays later, Bernard raced 23 yards for a touchdown on a slick draw. The missed point preserved a 7-6 West lead.
Teams swapped interceptions; West’s Mike Emery picked off an early fourth quarter Bernard pass to kill an East drive. Two plays later Udinski, under duress by White, threw a pass in the flat that was intercepted by East captain Tim Hughes. Hughes rumbled to the West-23. White scored on a one-yard run four plays later.
Down 12-7, Hensel gave East a steady diet of Williams, whose 148 yards on 26 carries paced all runners. Udinski got to the edge and raced to the end zone from 11 yards out with 1:55 left.
“I have to credit (offensive coordinator) Chris Cleland for seeing what was there. It’s all about taking what you’re given,” said Hensel. “They started to key on Rashaad and at some point they keyed on Poeske because he was starting to soften the middle. We decided to send Ward to the edge and he delivered.”
Poeske collected 76 yards on eight carries. White led East with 95 yards on 19 carries; Bernard ran for 87 yards.
The West offense averaged over 38 points per game in their first six contests; Udinski has thrown for over 900 yards while Williams and Poeske average nearly eight yards per rush. Four times this season, the Bucks’ “O” victimized opposing defenses for their
highest point total of the season.
“I’d love to say no,” replied Hensel when asked if the strong breeze limited his air attack, “but it does effect where we’re at. There was a good stiff wind blowing and we wanted to try and control the ball and control the clock.
And four times, the East defense held their opponents’ offense to their lowest point total of the season. Sean Trymbiski leads the team in pass breakups but it was big DL Jake O’Donnell getting a drive-killing third-down deflection Friday night.
“I think it was a great team performance,” assessed East head coach John Donnelly. “The offense came out in the second half and went 94 yards to score. We just didn’t have enough. To their credit, they scored when they needed to at the end. (But) I’m super proud of our guys. They played their hearts out on both sides of the football.”
It may not have been 1998, when the eventual state champs (West) played the eventual State Player of the Year (East’s Bryan Scott) but for the first time in several years, one of the area’s premier football rivalries was back in the spotlight.
“For all of West’s history, they’ve been phenomenal,” commented Udinski of the four-time state champs. “Yet every game with East is a dogfight.”
With the win, West puts itself in a strong position for the playoffs. They have a better record than all three of their remaining opponents.
“I have to say it’s the confidence level,” Udinski opined on a West team that went 1-10 in 2009. “Last year, we had a couple of tight losses early and we kind of checked out. It was tough. Teams were all over us and we couldn’t get anything going. This year, we got rolling early with a 3-0 start and we’re hoping to keep that going.”
Meanwhile, East held the Bucks to one-third of their scoring average while featuring a stable of running backs who picked up 250 yards on the ground.
“They know we can still control our destiny,” replied Donnelly when asked what he hoped his players would take away, “and that we’re a very good football team. (West is) ranked in the top 15 in the state. I think that means we’re a pretty good team.”
Maybe 1998 is a little closer than we think.
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