H.S. FOOTBALL: Berlin rolls past Northern Cambria
NORTHERN CAMBRIA — With all of the pregame hype surrounding Berlin running back Braden Fochtman’s incredible start to the season, it was Nick Stockwell’s career night that helped carry the Mountaineers to a 53-6 pounding of Northern Cambria in non-conference high school football game Friday night.
Fochtman, who came into the game with 1,042 yards rushing on just 91 carries, was held under 100 yards for the first time all season. Fochtman tallied 99 yards on just nine carries, including a 56-yard run in the second quarter.
But it was Stockwell’s impressive night that put the Mountaineers in the driver’s seat. Stockwell intercepted three passes — two of which he took back for touchdowns — and even hauled in two touchdown passes.
“We knew 21 was a ballplayer coming in,” Northern Cambria coach Paul Taranto said of Stockwell. “But, defensively, we just threw the ball to him. It wasn’t like they were bad reads or bad balls, but hats off to 21. When he caught the ball no one ever came close to him. We just helped out their defense.”
Although the game ended in a blowout, the Colts actually outplayed the undefeated Mountaineers early.
Following two early penalties against the Mountaineers, the Colts forced them to punt, gaining good field position in the process. After a big 35-yard pass from Tyler Pershing to Joey Olish, Joe Frontino punched it in from 2 yards, giving the Colts an early lead.
But the Mountaineers answered quickly. Collin Belcher broke free up the middle for a 41-yard touchdown run.
After a three-and-out by Northern Cambria on the next possession, the Colts forced a turnover on downs. With Northern Cambria facing second-and-9 from its own 46-yard line, Stockwell came up with his first interception. One play later, Fochtman scooted untouched for 56 yards down the left sideline, giving the Mountaineers a 14-6 lead.
Stockwell was far from done. On the ensuing drive, Stockwell came up with his second interception and returned it 84 yards for a touchdown, giving Berlin a 20-6 lead with 1:18 left in the second quarter.
Stockwell’s return started a stretch in which the Mountaineers scored three touchdown — all by Stockwell — in the final two minutes of the first half to break the game open at 34-6. He scored on 64- and 8-yard passes from Brenston Harding.
“I thought we outplayed them early,” Colts coach Paul Taranto said. “Then, we threw a few picks and everything just went downhill and got ugly in a hurry. They’re a well-coached team. I knew we could match up decent with them, but at the same time they’re a good team. They’re 6-0 for a reason, and when they had the opportunity they put the foot on the throat and put us away.”
Coming out in the second half, the Colts looked to make a game of it, but with 7:04 left in the third quarter, Stockwell struck again. This time, he jumped a flat route and grabbed his third interception of the night, returning it 10 yards for his second defensive touchdown and fourth overall.
Toby Cahill, a reserve running back for the Mountaineers, burst 41 yards down the right sideline late in the fourth quarter to close the scoring.
For Northern Cambria, this loss becomes gut-check time for the rest of the season.
Visibly frustrated after the game, Taranto spoke sternly about what needs to be corrected for the Colts to get back on track: “It’s a gut check. Monday is going to be a rough day of practice, unless they show up with a better attitude. This loss better stick with them.
“We’re going to battle back and we’re going to go out and play with heart. Like I told them in the second half, ‘Go out and show character.’ Character means more than anything in this world, so hopefully we show character the rest of this season.”