Solanco Runs Over Pottstown 36-6
2015 was a great year for Solanco football. Historically great to be exact. The Golden Mules enjoyed their best season in school history by going 9-1 in the regular season with an 11-2 mark overall, with no margin of victory any closer than 17 points. The only two losses the Mules suffered last year came at the hands of then fellow District 3 AAA blue bloods, Manheim Central and Bishop McDevitt respectively.
If 2016 is to shape up anything like the 2015 campaign, the Mules will need to do so by replacing key figures off last year’s team including but not limited to, Noah McCardell at quarterback, the physically imposing wideout/DB tandem of Troy Miller and Mike Figueroa, as well as the backfield group that simply shined in the triple option offense; Darren Wheary, Robbie Hassel, and Prosper Eguzouwa. Even with all the skill positon players lost to graduation, the 2016 version of Solanco still knows how its bread is buttered as they introduced themselves and their physical ground game to the world by taking the show on the road to Pottstown on Saturday afternoon.
The Mule defense was up to task on the first series, as they would be the entire game, by forcing a Trojan 3 and Out to start. Solanco took over at their own 28 and began marching down the field with the ground game as fullback Eric Hopkins got it started with a 15 yard jaunt on the Mules’ first offensive play.Solanco was able to extend their initial drive by coming up successful on a couple of 3rd downs. The first saw Pottstown jump on the hard count on 3rd & inches, while the next saw Solanco pitch it out to running back Ryan Yaletchko to pick up the first down on 3rd & 8 for a 15 yard pickup. Yaletchko came up big for Solanco on the drive once again as he was the beneficiary of what looked to be the same play used on the previous 3rd down, to take it down to the Trojan 10 yard line on a 4th & 10 conversion from the Pottstown 27. Although it was a time-consuming, yard-eating first drive, it did not yield points as Jaylen Chestnut and his mates stuffed the Solanco 3rd & Goal attempt, and the kick try on 4th down was no good. After another Pottstown 3 & Out, the scoreboard showed us right where we started at 0-0 after the first 12 minutes.
After a short Trojan punt, Solanco found themselves with great field position at the Pottstown 32. The bulk of the drive was the Eric Hopkins show as he took another fullback dive for a nice gainer down to the Trojan 25 to start it off. After a toss play to Alex McDonald moved the sticks to the Pottstown 19, Hopkins picked up the next 12 yards for the Mules down to the 5 yard line which set up sophomore quarterback Joel McGuire calling his own number on the option keeper to put Solanco up 6-0. Sensing an alignment error from Pottstown defensively, Solanco used their exotic field goal formation to the fullest and they tossed it out to Hopkins who crossed the goal line, and Solanco now held an 8-0 advantage with 9:58 to go in the half.
It was punting time again for Pottstown on the next series, thanks in large part to Cole Lewis reading his keys and diagnosing the sweep play perfectly for a big loss on the drive to set Pottstown back.
Solanco got on the board again on the next drive, as Ryan Yaletchko did his part by moving the chains on a 3rd & 10 play off the pitch game. From there, Eric Hopkins bolted 40 yards to the house and after the PAT, it was a 15-0 Solanco lead with five minutes and change still left in the half.
Pottstown tried to get things going on the following drive, but Cole Lewis showed up again with bad intentions as he brought the heat and hit the quarterback right as he released it on 3rd & 8, forcing an incompletion to bring on another Pottstown punt.
Solanco would get the ball back at their own 35 with 2:28 still left on the clock. With possession and time of the essence, the Mules attempted their first pass of the ballgame with1:35 left to go in the half. Although it was an incompletion, their 2nd attempt would prove to be far more successful as Joel McGuire found junior RB Alex McDonald for the touchdown from 42 yards out, to give Solanco the 22-0 lead with just eight seconds left in the half.
Solanco would get the ball back after the break and pick up right where they left off, converting the drive into points. The highlights of the drive included Yaletchko picking up a gain of 9 down to the PHS 36, following it up with another run down to the Trojan 21, and Hopkins taking a fullback dive down to the 9. The Pottstown defense stiffened for the next few plays, but Solanco eventually crossed the goal line on 4th & Goal from 2 yards out to put the Golden Mules out in front 29-0 with 7:46 to go in the quarter.
The remainder of the 3rd quarter saw Cole Lewis stop another Pottstown drive on the ensuing set of downs, stuffing a 3rd & 5 on an end around, in addition to Solanco mounting yet another long drive, although it did not end in points, as Pottstown held on 4th & 14.
The boost from holding Solanco on downs seemed to carry over to the offensive side of the ball for Pottstown as their next series proved to be their most successful of the game. The Trojan drive saw highlights from Anthony Wiggins with a nice run down to the Solanco 32, as well as running back Isaiah Mayes following it up with a burst up the gut inside the redzone to the 17. Mayes finished it off from there, by going 15 yards to the house to get the dreaded goose egg off of Pottstown’s side of the scoreboard, however after an unsuccessful PAT, the Mules still held a commanding 30-6 lead.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Pottstown’s scoring drive was the fact that it was the first time the Trojans crossed midfield, courtesy of a facemask call, with just 10:13 left to go in the ballgame. Not bad for a first game outing defensively. “We practice like we play. We go out there every day, very physical, very tough,” said Solanco head man Tony Cox. “The kids did a really good job this week of just listening and being focused on what they were being coached to do,” he added of his team’s defensive effort.
Solanco would go on the close out the scoring by way of anotherEric Hopkins run, this one of the 6 yard variety as Solanco would go on to close it out with a dominant 36-6 victory over the host Trojans.
Even with last season being in the books and all the noticeable graduation losses, it’s evident that last year’s successes have helped fuel the DNA of this year’s Solanco team, as well as the program at large. “Our kids have really worked hard this summer,” Cox went on to say. “We have a great group of seniors this year. The kids are focused, they’ve bought in to what’s going on. The program is not going to change. We’re still going to practice like we do every week, prepare for the team and do our best.”
In an ultra-competitive Lancaster Lebanon Section 2 race that includes the likes of Manheim Central, Cocalico, Garden Spot, and a litany of others, it’s evident that Solanco doesn’t intend to take a back seat to anyone in 2016.
NEXT UP: Solanco welcomes fellow Lancaster Lebanon League member Conestoga Valley and Northeastern the York-Adams league to Quarryville in the coming weeks, both of whom won their openers by a combined score of 114-13, before jumping into the LL Section 2 gauntlet against Garden Spot.
Pottstown will look to shake off early season losses to Sun Valley and Solanco and crack into the winning column in 2016 as they travel to Bishop Shanahan next week for their first trip away from historic Grigg Field this year.
Follow EasternPAFootball.com on Twitter @EPAFootball
Share This Post: