Lions Fall Short to Morrisville in BAL Battle
By Don Leypoldt
For the November 4th Bucks County Herald
Friday night’s home contest versus Bicentennial League rival Morrisville was a good news/bad news game for a New Hope-Solebury Lion team in the midst of an up and down season.
The 33-20 loss was the bad news.
The 20 point output- the most in NH-S’ (4-5, 2-4) last six games- and the standout play of a core of juniors were the good news.
The Bulldogs (6-3, 2-3) have two weapons that Class A teams seldom see. Morrisville quarterback Matt Cookson is a duel threat who will play at the next level.
They also had a size advantage- Bulldog lineman Donald Kinslaw is listed at 320 pounds. That advantage helped four Bulldogs rush for over 70 yards.
“We prepared for him and we thought we had the right schemes. Obviously we had some breakdowns and kids not in the right spots to make plays,” assessed NH-S head coach Jim DiTulio. “With all of that said, when we needed to make plays, we fell short. That has been our big down fall the last three or four games. But we felt confident coming in.”
NH-S struck first. On the game’s third play, standout halfback Julian Kaminoff got to the edge and raced 60 yards for a touchdown.
Morrisville responded with a game-changing minute. Cookson hit Rickey Melendez on a 42-yard bomb for a touchdown with 5:35 left in the first. The squib kickoff bounced off of a Lion and was pounced on by Morrisville. Three plays later Cookson, who finished the game with 171 yards passing and 88 yards rushing, found Julian Walker on a 30-yard touchdown pass giving the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead that they didn’t relinquish.
RB Orlando Tirado added a 5-yard touchdown run, giving Morrisville a 20-7 halftime lead.
Two plays into the second half, Lion DB Michael Campion forced Walker to fumble; NH-S’ Dom Sarutavaraphong pounced on it. But the Bulldogs stopped Kaminoff, the game’s leading rusher with 112 yards on 15 carries, on fourth down.
Morrisville calmly responded with a 12-play scoring drive that ended with Matt Beyer’s 26-yard touchdown run.
Down but not out, Lion QB Marco Maltese promptly hit Kaminoff on a long 30-yard pass play. Four plays later, Kaminoff blasted into the end zone from two yards out to make the game 26-14. Sarutavaraphong recovered another fumble when Morrisville got the ball back; the Bulldog “D” came up with another fourth down stop.
Cookson would later hit Walker again on an 18-yard touchdown pass. With time for one more drive, backup QB Matt Massimino rallied his team 65 yards in six plays, connecting with Campion on a 20-yard touchdown with 1:00 left.
“The bottom line is that they have to learn to play four quarters. They have to fight hard on every play and every down. The three wins in a row were beautiful. The morale was good and everyone on the team was flying high,” DiTulio commented.
He continued, “But they still need to learn how to deal with adversity. They don’t quit, and they showed a lot of fight at the end, but they need to learn how to put four quarters together.”
The New Hope-Solebury program is just two years old. Whereas an established program can look to senior leadership, a young program has to travel a different route.
Three sophomores – Maltese, Kaminoff, and LB Mitchell McCollum – were thrown into the proverbial fire last year. The Lions struggled, going winless in their inaugural 2009 campaign.
But the young’uns showed signs of talent and growth. Maltese, a starting pitcher on the District champion baseball team, threw or ran for 11 touchdowns. Kaminoff, the team’s most dynamic playmaker, averaged 5.5 yards per carry while running behind an undersized offensive line.
A year older and wiser, Maltese and Kaminoff are huge cogs in the Lions’ offensive wheel. NH-S opened the season 3-0, outscoring their opponents 114-14 and showing what they are capable of doing when everything clicks.
In NH-S’ 20-16 win at Delco Christian on Oct 8th, Maltese ran for 102 yards and threw a touchdown pass. In the Lions’ wins over Tower Hill and Lower Moreland, Maltese completed 13-of-18 passes for 210 yards while adding five touchdowns with his legs.
Kaminoff is the big-play threat. He averages 7 yards per carry and over 20 yards per catch. Yet it is his kick-returning abilities – he has four special teams touchdowns this year – that wow crowds.
Against the George School in NH-S’ home opener, Kaminoff had 315 all purpose yards and six touchdowns in barely a half of play.
McCollum is the middle linebacker who was in on tackle after tackle against Morrisville. His third-down pressure of Cookson in the first quarter forced a third-down incompletion that led to a missed field goal.
“He’s a smart player. He knows their offense and what they’re doing,” replied DiTulio when asked about his Mike. “He knows their keys and he really took over as a leader on this team. We’ll be happy to have him back next year.”
A win next week versus Jenkintown on Senior Night would give the Lions a .500 season – a commendable improvement from last year. And as NH-S recognizes their seniors, Lion fans can be happy that many key names will not be called.
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