Manheim Township Flashes Style And Substance As Blue Streaks Decimate Dallastown
Death, taxes and preseason predictions. Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly the same phrase, but in the world of high school football, it still rings true. This year, when speaking on the topics of the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 and the District 3-6A field most specifically, the conversation begins and ends with the Manheim Township Blue Streaks. And for good reason.
All things considered, most teams would be quite envious when a “rebuilding” year consists of a three-team share of a division title and a semifinal appearance in the district playoffs. Yet incredibly enough, those are the heights that Manheim Township head coach Mark Evans and his staff have now elevated the Blue Streaks’ program to.
If you’re from around these parts, chances are that you already know the story here. Over the last handful of years, Manheim Township was steadily and persistently risen from the ranks of a program that could spring the occasional landmark upset and be pesky enough to finish in the middle of the pack in terms of the L-L Section 1 race. They are now a full-fledged behemoth that could not only hang with some of the best teams in all corners of the District 3 landscape, but ultimately win the “big boy” division of central Pennsylvania high school football as they did in 2017. When you get right down to it, you had better believe that a program architect such as Coach Evans understands the importance of having this year’s core group grow up watching tangible Township success take place both on and off the field.
“That’s the culture piece,” said Evans. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast any day of the week. I truly believe that this group is benefiting from that 2017 team, which finished teams off early and allowed younger kids to get a taste of what it’s all about.”
“It’s that taste,” Evans added. “It’s like that taste of chocolate. Once you taste it, it tastes pretty good and you want more of it. If you want to continue what you’re doing, then you darn well better get out there and work. That’s what they’re doing. It’s a talented group. That talented group has been growing through the program and had their opportunities because of other people.”
But while many were quick to coin the 2017 Blue Streaks as a “once in a generation” type outfit, the undeniable undercurrent for long-term prosperity was already churning well below the surface in Neffsville, not yet visible to the naked eye. Sure enough, here we are just two years later with the ridiculously deep and ultra-talented Blue Streaks figuring to be one of the favorites to capture both the Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 and District 3-6A crowns once again, the latter of which would put the Streaks just two wins away from claiming the school’s first state championship.
Whether you consider it cliché or not, it’s still essentially pointless in terms of truly predicting who will make it to Hershey in early December for the season’s grand finale. For Township most specifically, step number two in their 2019 journey brought them to York County on Friday night for a matchup with the Dallastown Wildcats,. This program also routinely finds itself duking it out for division titles and snagging District 3 playoff berths in their own right.
When trying to slay a giant such as Manheim Township, getting off to a fast start is paramount. In that regard, put a huge check mark next to Dallastown’s name on Friday evening.
Dallastown quarterback, Gabe Hall, was able to connect with tight end Cashiss Day along the Township sideline early in their opening drive, the Wildcats quickly found themselves in Blue Streak territory as the D-Town senior duo accounted for a monster 66-yard chunk play.
The air attack didn’t stop there. On third and 11 from the Township 21-yard line, Hall was able to find senior wideout Kahleed Gray for an ultra-quick Dallastown touchdown, putting the Wildcats up 7-0 with just 1:45 having ticked off the first quarter clock.
Yet even with early momentum riding with Dallastown, it would prove to be Manheim Township’s night the rest of the way.
Following the ensuing kickoff, the Blue Streaks set up shop at their own 39-yard line. Township was there to author an even better effort than Dallastown, as the Streaks went 61 yards in just one play. Senior running back Jaden Floyd was able to bounce it off of the left side before finding nothing but green in front of him as Floyd’s 61-yard TD jaunt allowed the Streaks to make the score 7-7 with 9:51 left in the opening stanza.
“It was kind of like okay, you just poked the bear,” Township head coach Mark Evans said in regard to the early haymaker thrown by Dallastown in the early going on Friday night. “Now it’s time for us to wake up. Let’s go.”
Message received loud and clear.
Dallastown was again be able to move the ball through the air on their ensuing drive. They advanced the ball across the midfield stripe to the Township 45-yard line. The Wildcats’ march would be met with resistance the rest of the way by the Manheim Township defense. This was highlighted by a key stop short of the sticks from Township defensive back Jonathan Engel on a third and ten later on the drive. This forced Dallastown to punt away.
From there, Township never looked out the rearview mirror the rest of the night. Senior quarterback Harry Kirk was able to connect with Jaden Floyd out of the backfield for a 21-yard connection on third and six deep in Blue Streak territory. This successfully moved the ball out near midfield.
Floyd was then able to follow up with another hard-charging run. His 29-yard scamper off the right side led the Township charge all the way down to the Dallastown nine-yard line.
While it was Floyd who was able to inflict a bulk of the damage on the drive, it was Bryce Casey who ultimately finished things off. The Township senior running back was able to complete the 88-yard Manheim Township drive with a three-yard touchdown run. This put the visitors up 14-7 with 1:20 left to go in the first quarter.
Following a Dallastown fumble on the kickoff, the Blue Streaks found themselves now just 20 yards away from gaining a possible two touchdown cushion. Needless to say, they would.
Following a powerful 13-yard run by, you guessed it, Jaden Floyd, Harry Kirk was able to finish things off from there as the Colgate Raider commit called his own number from seven yards out. He executed the quarterback draw to put the Streaks up 21-7 as the first quarter clock expired just 39 seconds later.
While the opening moments of Friday night’s affair may have seemed like cause for concern for the Manheim Township contingent given the way Dallastown was able to advance the ball down the field, those concerns were likely just as quickly washed away given the effort and results put forth the by the Streaks’ D for the rest of the evening. All game long, Manheim Township defenders were consistently seen flying to the football, usually arriving with bad intentions, forcing the Wildcats’ offensive troops to fight and claw for literally every yard. Take the ensuing Dallastown drive for example.
On 3rd& 6 at their own 25-yard line, Township senior defensive lineman Ben Mann and fellow senior linebacker Sam Emge had a meeting at the quarterback for the drive-killing sack, ending the Dallastown drive before it could even really get going.
The Blue Streaks were given yet another short field from which to work with following a nice punt return by way of sophomore wideout Elijah Fonseca which put the ball at the Wildcats’ 40-yard line, the Streaks were able to punch it in yet again following a 1-yard quarterback sneak from Kirk which put the Streaks up now 28-7 with 9:12 left to go in the first half.
With blood now clearly visible oozing out in the water by the bucket-load, the sharks known as the Manheim Township defensive unit quickly began to feast.
After a monster sack administered by senior Grayson Kuhn from his defensive line position which set up a Dallastown 3rd& 20 from their own 18-yard line, senior defensive back Matt Mikulka was able to read his keys perfectly and snag an errant Wildcats’ throw as Mikulka’s diving takeaway gave Township another short field as Harry Kirk and the offense trotted back onto the field just 20 yards away from adding another score.
Spoiler alert: They would.
After a sweet 18-yard pass from Kirk to a streaking Ben Mann down the seam to get the drive underway, the Streaks now found themselves just one yard away yet again. Since the ability to have Kirk use his 6’2 205lb frame seemed to be rather effective the last time they called upon a quarterback sneak, the Township offensive brain-trust went right back to the very same well as the second 1-yard touchdown sneak from Kirk on the evening made it 35 unanswered points from Manheim Township, making it a 35-7 ballgame with 6:38 left in the half.
Another drive, another Township theft.
Clearly the Mikulka interception on the last Dallastown offensive series proved to be rather contagious for the Township defense troops as senior defensive back Nathan Carpenter was able to nab an interception of his own on the following drive, giving the ball back to Township in Dallastown territory yet again.
And while all touchdowns are a thing of beauty, if your team happens to on the receiving-end of them of course, there was arguably none prettier out of Township’s selection of eight on Friday night than their next one.
Facing a 3rd& 19 at the Dallastown 39-yard line, Manheim Township 6’4 senior wideout Mickey Stokes was able to climb the ladder against one-on-one coverage on the outside, beating his defender at the summit and coming down with the 39-yard TD grab on the beautiful lob thrown by Kirk, putting the Streaks up by the mind-boggling 42-7 advantage with 5:25 left in the half given the manner in which things got underway.
Yet even while Township would ultimately not be able to add any more neon up on the scoreboard for the duration of the first half, the Streaks’ defense continued to play with their collective hair on fire for the remaining five minutes and change. Perhaps nothing exemplified this more than by Bryce Casey’s tandem of sacks on Dallastown’s final possession of the first half, effectively sending the Blue Streaks into the dressing room with 42 unanswered points as the proceedings now stood at 42-7.
Unfortunately for Dallastown, the intermission appeared to be futile in terms of taking any wind out of the Manheim Township sails.
Coming out of the break, the Township offense, namely the offensive line, continued to remain white-hot as a determined 23-yard pickup by Bryce Casey on a 3rd& 3 attempt up the gut on the Streaks’ first offensive series of the half now had the ball resting at the midfield stripe. Shortly thereafter, Jaden Floyd began toting the rock once again with Floyd later being rewarded handsomely for his efforts as a gorgeous, yet somehow simultaneously vicious one-cut touchdown run from 38-yards out propelled the Blue Streaks to a 49-7 advantage with 8:41 showing on the third quarter clock.
Following a Dallastown three & out on their opening possession of the second half, the Manheim Township reserves began to work their way into the fold. But don’t let the depth chart fool you. The Blue Streaks can come at you in waves with no real significant drop off in terms of talent.
Never more was that on display for all to see than with Township’s ensuing offensive possession with senior running back Andre Smith receiving his opportunity to take the reins. Suffice to say, Smith did not disappoint as a handful of barreling runs from the 6’0 208lb menace paved the way for junior running back Shamir Alberto to cap things off with an 11-yard touchdown gallop on the final play of the third quarter with Township holding serve at 56-7.
From there, Manheim Township was able to handle their business and keep a lid on the Wildcats’ offense the rest of the way as Manheim Township had clearly and effectively showed all of their weaponry over the course of 48 minutes by virtue of their 49-point triumph.
“(Dallastown) was throwing their punches,” Township head coach Mark Evans said afterward. “We weathered the storm. We had a of couple miscues in the secondary early on, but take nothing away from Dallastown. I thought (Gabe Hall) threw a nice ball.”
“We had a good week of practice,” Evans went on to say. “We knew what we had to accomplish tonight. We knew that (Dallastown) was going to give us a heck of a punch. We were ready for it.”
NEXT UP: With a 2-0 start already to their name, Manheim Township will look to pick up right where have left off in the first two weeks of this season when the Blue Streaks return home for a renewal in their annual rivalry with Central Dauphin in a game that is sure to be played inside a phone booth between two of District 3-6A’s best franchises.
For Dallastown, the Wildcats will look to pick up the pieces with their record now standing at 0-2 following back-to-back setbacks to two Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 1 opponents in Hempfield and Manheim Township respectively as the Wildcats continue their unofficial tour through the L-L League with a trip to Millersville to tangle with Penn Manor next on the docket Friday night.
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