Colonials Get Run Over By Eagles
High-school football is back, and it looks very promising for the New Oxford Colonials in 2012, who are coming off of a 2-8 season last year, but many players are hungry for a winning season. The Colonials have a new man at the helm this season, Jason Thurston, who has never been a head coach before, but has a lot of experience coaching as an offensive coordinator and the mindset to lead the Colonials to their first winning since the Colonials went 11-2 back in 2006. Thurston brings with him, a whole new style of play to the Colonials, in which the Wing-T offense, will replace the Triple-Option, and on the other side of the ball, the Colonials will switch from a 5-2 Defense to a 4-3. Even though all the changes may seem beneficial, it still will be a tough road for the Ox, having to play six playoff teams from last year this season, and their youth.
The Colonials are only returning one starter from last year on the offensive side of the ball, running back Nick Slusser. The Colonials new starting quarterback, junior Anthony Lippy, will have a heavy load to carry this season, learning and executing a whole new offense, and attempting to lead the Colonials to victory every week. New Oxford seemed prepared and was ready to kick off the season. Too bad their opponent was an 11-1, District 3 qualifier from one season ago, the Bermudian Springs Eagles.
The Eagles and the Colonials both are looking to build a new identity in this new season of high school football, with the Eagles trying to replace two, one-thousand yard backs from last year, and the Colonials just trying to get a winning record. This meeting was the first time the Ox and their neighbors from up route 94 have met in thirteen years, last playing in 1999.
Prior to that, the Colonials and Eagles had played each other in every season for 25 years, dating back to the old Blue Mountain League. As the teams took the field, you could feel the sense that this would be a fantastic game, despite the records from a year ago, and it did not disappoint.
The teams took the field at New Oxford High School around 7 o’clock PM, the stadium, packed full of both Colonial and Eagle fans ready to renew a longtime rivalry. The Colonials won the coin toss at mid-field and elected to receive the opening kickoff of the 2012 season. Both teams lined up in their positions, the New Oxford Marching Band playing the schools’ fight song. Bermudian’s kicker put his arm up into the air, ran towards the ball and boom the ball sailed into the arms of New Oxford player, Cory Gartrell.
Gartrell had a nice return out to the 40-yard line, but the Colonials could not capitalize on the good field position, and went three and out on their opening drive. After a Colonial punt, it was Bermudian’s turn, starting at their own 29-yard line. Bermudian stormed down the field behind their two new running backs, Tristan Sponseller and Zach Stroup, going 71 yards on 11 plays, before punching the ball into the endzone on a six-yard run by Sponseller. At the end of the first quarter though, the score was only 7-0 in favor of the Eagles.
Early in the second quarter, the Colonials had their backs against the wall as Bermudian once again was driving downfield behind the dynamic duo of Stroup and Sponseller, but that would soon change. Bermudian quarterback, Michael Moore dropped back to pass, released the ball, which looked to be an easy completion, but New Oxford Senior safety, Aaron Brown, dove in front of the pass, and picked off the ball to halt the Eagles.
Once again the Colonials could not capitalize on Bermudian’s mistake, and were forced to punt. Late in the second quarter, the Eagles were driving again into the Colonials’ red zone, but running back, Tristan Sponseller was shaken up with an apparent right leg injury, but was able to leave the field under his own power. Two plays later, Bermudian quarterback Michael Moore punched the ball into the endzone from the two-yard line to give Bermudian a 14-0 lead. The Colonials got the ball back and ended up going backwards before having to punt again. But the punt was blocked deep in Colonial territory, giving the Eagles another great chance to score before the half. With less than 30 seconds left, Moore threw up a high ball to one of his receivers, but the ball once again was picked off, this time by Colonial Senior cornerback, Matt Staub, bringing an end to the first half. Bermudian had piled up ten first downs in the half mostly behind their running backs who combined, ran for 146 yards, while New Oxford only managed to get two first downs.
In the third quarter, neither team had much going for them, mainly because of the intense game of defense that was being played. The Eagles did have a mini drive going for them, but were stopped on fourth down thanks to Colonial cornerback Aaron Reichert, who deflected a ball in the endzone, intended for a Bermudian receiver.
Going into the fourth quarter, Bermudian held its’ lead, 14-0. About halfway through the fourth quarter, the Colonials were once again backed up into their endzone, and forced to punt. On the punt, Bermudian returner, Ryan Markle returned the 25-yard punt from the endzone to the Colonial 5-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Bermudian fullback Landon Mohney ran the ball, almost untouched into the endzone to put the icing on the cake for the Eagles, giving them a 21-0 victory on opening night. The Colonials played very well despite the score, even though the numbers do not show it.
New Oxford managed to force three turnovers off the Eagles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and held Bermudian under 50 yards of passing. The downfall was the Eagles run game, which ran for 261 yards, and the defense shut down the Colonials offense, giving them minus ten yards total for the night. New Oxford has to figure out how to move the ball on offense and shut down the run game of opponents, but other than that, playing a team that went 11-1 last year, and only losing by three touchdowns isn’t really that bad.
There were positives and negatives, which will need to be worked on this week by the Ox before traveling to James Buchanan next week to face off with the Rockets, who are coming off of a 56-26 loss to Biglerville. New Oxford remains optimistic now having back-to-back games against teams that finished with losing records last year, and feeling that they can move their record to 2-1 before another tough game with South Western in week 4. All is not lost with the Colonials, they gave 110% last night, and look to continue that attitude throughout the season, along with developing as a whole unit.
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