Northern Lebanon Picks Up First Win As Vikings Ransack Pequea Valley
If you’ve followed sports for any length of time, chances are that you’ve probably heard a phrase somewhere along the lines of, “Each team and each year is different.” And yes, while that is fundamentally and undeniably true at its core, there are always exceptions to any rule. In that regard, please do not find fault with neither Northern Lebanon or Pequea Valley if their Week 6 meeting in Kinzers on Friday night somehow felt eerily similar to the battle waged between the two schools last year in Fredericksburg.
On that night, now 364 days ago, both the Vikings and Braves found themselves on the short ends of collective 0-10 sticks respectively, as each side brought identical 0-5 records to the table. Sure enough, the first half of the 2019 season has once again been proven to be all too unforgiving for both squads with each undoubtedly witnessing their season narratives take on the same shared plotlines considering both sides arrived to Pequea Valley high school on Friday night hungry, nay, starving for the opportunity to collect their first win of the season while also looking to gain some added fuel and momentum heading into the final three weeks of the season.
And if the theme of déjà vu was to truly come full circle as far as last season’s war between Northern Lebanon and Pequea Valley on the gridiron was most specifically concerned, it would certainly be the Northern Lebanon Vikings who would be most eager in having history repeat itself.
You see, in that aforementioned Week 6 matchup going back to last season, Northern Lebanon was able to ride a stellar defensive performance en route to a 20-6 triumph, a victory which ironically had been the Vikings’ last to date. From the Pequea Valley perspective, they too would be looking to taste the sweet nectar of victory for the first time this season as well. The only key difference being that the Braves had yet to come out victorious in a varsity high school football contest since Week 10 of the 2017 season.
So, needless to say, Friday’s affair offered up the opportunity for one of these two mentally-tough programs to deservedly have their moment in the sun come evening’s end.
But on this night however, the Vikings were truly able to pillage.
Even still, things did not necessarily get off to the cleanest of starts for the visitors from Lebanon County. In fact, after the first play from scrimmage, Pequea Valley immediately found themselves residing inside the Northern Lebanon redzone following a 52-yard jaunt by Tony Lazar as the Braves’ stud running back ushered the PV charge down to the Northern Lebanon 10-yard line.
Just then however, things quickly went haywire for the Pequea Valley contingent.
After being stymied over the course of the next handful of plays following the Lazar gallop, Pequea Valley suddenly found themselves staring down the barrel of a 3rd & Goal from the Vikings’ 11-yard line. And like a thief operating under the cloak of darkness, Northern Lebanon senior linebacker Nickols Winters was able to come up a key takeaway by way of a fumble recovery, handing the ball to the Vikings’ offensive troops, albeit deep in their own territory to start things off.
For as much as Northern Lebanon has appeared to struggle this season to those on the outside given their 0-5 mark entering the night, their offense certainly showed all the signs of a much more polished unit than one might initially think. Almost as if sparked right out of the chute by such naysayers behind the efforts of a vastly underrated and underappreciated senior quarterback in Ethan Borcky, the Northern Lebanon offense quickly began plodding their way down the field on their first offensive series of the night. And if big plays are more your fancy, this Vikings’ offensive crew can do that as well.
Facing their first fourth down of the evening in the form of a 4th & 4 at their own 45-yard line in the game’s initial test of mettle, Borcky launched a pass across the middle of the field into the waiting hands — well hand actually — of Nate Leedy-Reidel, as the Vikings’ senior split end was able to make a magnificent one-handed grab en route to the endzone as the senior duo of Borcky to Leedy-Reidel allowed Northern Lebanon to strike first, putting the Vikings up 8-0 following the two-point conversion run by Chase Bressler with 7:35 remaining in the opening quarter of play.
From there, Northern Lebanon continued to play complimentary football.
Undoubtedly inspired by the handiwork of their defensive mates who thwarted the ensuing Pequea Valley series in the form of a three and out, the Vikings went right back to work offensively at their own 49-yard line.
Sure enough, the Northern Lebanon offense was able to navigate their way past the Braves’ defense on this drive as well with Chase Bressler having the honors this time around with a 3-yard touchdown plunge which saw the Vikings’ lead swell to 15-0 with 4:18 now left to play on the first quarter clock.
At this time, it quickly became apparent to everyone in attendance that Pequea Valley needed to offer up some sort of rebuttal if the homestanding Braves had any aspirations of sticking around in the wake of Northern Lebanon’s early uppercuts.
To their credit, the Braves did indeed begin moving the ball down the field, thanks in large part to a 31-yard connection across the middle from Pequea Valley quarterback Collin Bailey to Collin Rohrer on 3rd & 10 which ushered the PV march down to the Vikings’ 25-yard line. However, even with all the momentum that had quickly been generated following the PV conversion, the Northern Lebanon defensive unit was more than up to the task as best evidenced by the Vikings allowing nary nine more yards the remainder of the drive. So, with the Braves faced with a 4th & 6 amidst the stiffening of the NL defense, Pequea Valley called upon the field goal unit to help them crack the goose egg currently displayed under their name up on the scoreboard.
Once again, the man of the hour, Northern Lebanon’s Chase Bressler, continued to steal the show.
If he wasn’t already busy enough scoring touchdowns and running in two-point conversion attempts on Friday night as it was, Bressler was an absolute thorn in Pequea Valley’s side from his linebacker spot as well. And as if to be signaled right on cue, Bressler promptly charged through the Braves’ offensive line on said field goal attempt, blocking the kick, before ultimately pouncing on the loose pill himself, as Bressler’s field goal block allowed the Northern Lebanon offense to go right back to work at their own 38-yard line.
No issues there.
It would take Northern Lebanon all of one play to put another score up the board as Ethan Borcky lobbed a picture-perfect pass into the night sky before hitting Alex Folmer in stride as the 62-yard touchdown bomb from Borcky to Folmer allowed the Vikings to increase their lead to 22-0 with 1:26 left in the first quarter following the Tyler Boltz PAT.
While the Northern Lebanon offense likely stole the show —- and rightfully so given the fireworks they were able to display in the opening 12 minutes —- the Vikings’ defense was equally as gnarly for Pequea Valley to try and contend with.
Over the course of the next two offensive possessions for PV, both Brave drives would end courtesy of Northern Lebanon sophomore defensive lineman, Kalani Adams. On the first, the 6’0 195lb tour de force was able to collect a sack on third and long, only to then follow that up with a fumble recovery on the ensuing defensive series, giving Northern Lebanon the ball back deep in PV territory.
With having such a relatively short field from which to work with combined with a laser-focused offensive unit already in tow, it seemed inevitable that Northern Lebanon would be able to tack on yet another touchdown given the circumstances.
Although it was not exactly the definition of the word “easy,” the Vikings were indeed able to do precisely that as a 21-yard jaunt by, you guessed it, Chase Bressler, helped moved the ball down to the Braves’ three-yard line on a key 3rd & 10 play on the Vikings’ next offensive series. From there, Alex Folmer was able to finish what Bressler had started as Folmer’s three-yard touchdown run and subsequent PAT booted through up the uprights by Tyler Boltz gave Northern Lebanon the comfortable 29-0 cushion which is where things would remain after the final 7:40 ticked off the first half clock.
To their credit, Pequea Valley had certainly seemed to come out of the halftime recess inspired.
After holding the white-hot Vikings’ offense to a three and out coming out of the break, the Braves found themselves with their best starting field position of the night when they took over at the Northern Lebanon 26-yard line following a nice punt return and personal foul tacked on at the end of the run just for good measure against the Vikings for 15 more additional yards.
To say that Tony Lazar did most of the heavy lifting on the next Pequea Valley offensive series would be a bit of an understatement. Although he himself would not end up culminating the drive by celebrating in the endzone with the pigskin crutched under his right arm, Lazar’s legs were without a shadow of a doubt the main reason as to why the Braves were ultimately able to find their first touchdown of the evening as back-to-back runs by Lazar pushed the Pequea Valley advance down to the Vikings’ one-yard line. From there, quarterback Nate Fisher was able to call his own number on the quarterback sneak which allowed Pequea Valley to cut into the Northern Lebanon lead at 29-6 following the unsuccessful two-point conversion with 9:07 left to play in the third.
But Lazar’s stellar play was not just limited to the offensive side of the ball either.
In fact, Lazar would end up being the one to end the ensuing Northern Lebanon offensive possession with a diving interception from his defensive back spot, giving the ball back to the Pequea Valley offense just 31 yards away from possibly tacking on another score with momentum now clearly residing on their sideline.
However, even with the added boost of momentum, Kalani Adams once again had the antidote for the Pequea Valley offense as the up-and-coming defensive stalwart continued his stellar night of play in the trenches, ending the Braves’ series with a sack on a 4th & 3 to give the ball back to his offensive mates.
And with the third quarter now winding down, Northern Lebanon found themselves on the move once again.
While the situation might have originally seemed dire given the fact that the Vikings were tasked with a 4th & 14 at the Pequea Valley 18 following a monstrous sack tallied by PV’s Luke Brown, the NL offensive brain-trust dialed up a perfect screen play in the face of the oncoming Pequea Valley defense, as the Ethan Borcky to Alex Folmer screen put the Vikings’ attack on the PV three-yard line.
From there, Folmer was able to cash in on the ground with a one-yard scamper on the option play to push the Northern Lebanon lead up to a sizeable 30-point threshold at 36-6 after just four seconds had elapsed off the fourth quarter clock.
Yet even with the outcome of the contest largely a formality at this point, Pequea Valley continued to fight until the bitter end, an achievement best exemplified by a 54-yard touchdown strike through the air from Nate Fisher to Carter Rohrer and successful two-point conversion run by Fisher tallied on top to help the Braves make a dent into the Northern Lebanon lead at 36-14 with 4:14 still left to go.
But by then, the damage had already been done. And with it, a happy group of Vikings were finally given the rightful opportunity to finally trot off the field with their collective heads held high following the Vikings’ 36-14 conquest over Pequea Valley, a victory which marked the program’s first in nearly one calendar year.
“It’s great,” an understandably excited Northern Lebanon head coach Roy Wall said while watching his team leave the field happy for the first time on Friday night. “It’s good to get the win. I hope it’s not the last one we get this year. We said to focus on the second half (of the season),” Wall added. “We’re 1-0 in the second half now and we’ll see what we have from here.”
“We expect to win every game. We’re just really young,” said the Vikings’ boss summing up the season thus far. “We have literally three sophomores on our offensive line. Our skill position guys are all seniors, but all of our interior linemen on the both the offensive and defensive lines and linebackers, we’re really young. Like younger than you would think,” Wall said with a chuckle. “So, hopefully those guys grow up a bit by next year and we’ll be much more competitive.”
But make no mistake about it, this certainly isn’t the last time Northern Lebanon hopes to find themselves in the winner’s circle in 2019.
“Many years ago, I coached with Al Kopacz at Hanover Area and he said, ‘The success of a good season is defined by this: Win all the games you’re supposed to and one or two more.’ We won the game we’re supposed to,” said Wall. “We’ll see what else we do.”
NEXT UP: After collecting their first win of the year on Friday night against Pequea Valley, Northern Lebanon now sets their sights on a red-hot Lebanon team at home next Friday night and a Cedars bunch coming off two impressive victories in back-to-back fashion against Lancaster Catholic and Columbia respectively to set up a juicy Lebanon County tussle.
For Pequea Valley, it’s back to the grind as the Braves will be on the road for three of their remaining four contests from here on out, starting off with next week’s trip to Annville-Cleona.
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