H.S. FOOTBALL: Colts cruise past Stingers
NORTHERN CAMBRIA — With rain in the forecast for much of the night, the Northern Cambria Colts knew just what to do against the Marion Center Stingers: keep it simple and ride their big, bruising trio of workhorse running backs.
That plan seemed to work all night as the Colts racked up 246 yards rushing on their way to a 29-8 victory in a Heritage Conference football game Friday night.
A week after his team was blown out by Berlin and young quarterback Tyler Pershing was forced to air it out, coach Paul Taranto figured it was best to get back to the ground-and-pound ideology, which is just what the Colts excel at.
Derek Baker, Joe Frontino and Alex Weiland combined for 211 yards rushing on a night in which all three scored touchdowns. Frontino led all rushers with 95 yards on 12 carries.
“We have some pretty good running backs,” Taranto said. “They are good, hard-nosed high school running backs, and we’re tough up front. We have a good amount of experience up front with them all being seniors.
“It was nice to see the line of scrimmage pushed back a few yards, giving our running backs some room to work with. It was good downhill running tonight.”
Weiland started off on the right foot, taking his first carry 35 yards for the first score of the night.
“They just jammed the ball down our throats,” Marion Center coach Dave Malicky said. “We weren’t doing things very well defensively in the first half.”
With yards coming by the large chunk on the ground, the Colts continued to keep it simple and take advantage of the size mismatch along the line of scrimmage. After another lengthy drive dominated by the ground game, Frontino punched it in from 3 yards, giving the Colts a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Following the Colts’ touchdown, the Stingers looked to get something going offensively, but much like it was all night, it seemed one thing after another held them back from sustaining a drive. With Marion Center facing second-and-12 from its 25-yard line, Blake Orr connected with Jacob Bothell on a 37-yard pass, but as Bothell tried to gain extra yardage, he lost his grip on the ball, and the Colts recovered the fumble.
The Colts went on to cover 62 yards in eights plays as Baker slipped through the right side of the line from 2 yards for the score, giving Northern Cambria a 23-0 lead that held up at halftime.
With a young team, a 23-0 deficit looked almost insurmountable for Marion Center.
“We talked to them at halftime, and obviously they took it to us in the first half,” Malicky said. “We just wanted to play better after halftime and play with some composure, play within ourselves. We’re a young team. We’re playing a lot of young kids, but that’s no excuse.”
For all that talk at halftime, Malicky’s team appeared to buy into what he was saying as the Stingers held Northern Cambria to six points in the second half.
Those six points came on an impressive 30-yard run by Noah Tomallo, who had a quiet night behind Baker, Frontino and Weiland until that point.
“Tomallo is an unbelievable little ballplayer,” Taranto said. “He’s a young kid, but you’ll never meet a player with a bigger heart. He isn’t the biggest kid out there, but he’ll hit anybody. He’s just this great, hard-nosed football player. I wish I had five or six more like him.”
Following Tomallo’s run, the Stingers were looking to get some points on the board to build toward next week. On Marion Center’s final drive of the night, Colton Fairman and That Welch combined for 27 yards on four carries, with Welch barreling up the middle 8 yards for a touchdown.
As the young Stingers look to build off of each week, the 3-4 Colts are still vying for a playoff spot.
“We’ve got three games left in the season. I think if we win all three games we have a shot to get into the playoffs,” Taranto said. “That’s our goal every season. That goal is still there even though this season hasn’t been all that we’ve desired or expected it to be, but tonight is Step One in getting back on track.”
The Colts’ last three games are on the road, so this was the seniors’ last chance to play on their home turf.
“We have a great group of 18 seniors,” Taranto said. “We got a big win on senior night here at home. I’m very proud of seniors.”
Outside of the dominant ground performance by the Colts, Pershing added 73 yards through the air on 8 of 10 passing, and Joey Olish added three catches for 34 yards.
For Marion Center, Blake Orr completed 6 of 13 passes for 84 yards.