Bill Giovino hasn’t walked off Rettew Field at Manheim Central High School with a smile on his face since, well, never.
That changed Saturday night when the Lebanon High coach coached the North squad to a 28-18 victory over the South in the fourth annual Tri-County All-Star game.
And there was some irony to it. “I just thanked the guys for helping me get my first win at Manheim Central.” said Giovino, he has not beaten the Barons at their home in Section Two of the Lancaster-Lebanon League.
“But I did have the Manheim Central kids (on the North team) to help me do it.”
But it was a pair of Elizabethtown High seniors that really helped the North charge. Quarterback Josiah Becker threw for 7 yards and a touchdown, while Linebacker Andy Keck returned a fumble 23 yards late in the game to the win.
“It was an amazing way to end my career,” said Keck, who is headed to Millersville University.
“I knew this would be the last one I ever played a high school football game and knowing we went out on a good note like that finally means a lot.”
The South waster little time tacking the scoring column when quarterback Shane Martin (Garden Spot) engineered a game ending 66-yard scoring drive.
On the march, Martin ran for 18 yards and threw for 32, including 18-yard TD pass to Chaz Logan (Wilson).
The North responded with touchdown drives. The play was kept alive by a bizarre play. On fourth-and-6 from the South 48, Sam Shurnan’s punt was partially blocked by Malik Newman (McCaskey), but it landed in the hands of Casey Snyder (Manheim Township), who ran to the 41 for a first down.
Four plays later quarterback Tyler Reifsnyder (Manheim Central) hooked up with Pat Mendez (Hempfield) for an 8-yard TD to tie the game with 4:41 left in the opening quarter.
Following a South punt, Becker (8-for-14) guided the North on a seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive to make it 14-7.
Becker capped the drive on the first play of the second quarter with a 25-yard TD pass to T.J. Hammond (Lancaster Catholic), who made a leaping grab over South safety Norman Johnson.
“I got past the first guy and then the second guy came over top, so it was just a matter of who was going to pull it down and I did.” Hammond said of the jump ball.
Hammond finished with three catches for 72 yards and also rushed twice for 27 yards.
“This was the most fun I’ve ever had playing a game,” said Hammond. “We had a blast. It was the last time to be under the lights and it was kind of like playing backyard football.”
The South made it 14-10 when John Banzhof (McCaskey) booted a 40-yard field goal with 2:31 left in the half.
Despite being out-gained 156-127 in the first half, the North took the 14-10 lead into halftime.
The North extended its lead to 21-10 midway though the third quarter when Snyder plunged in from a yard out.
During the seven-play drive, Becker was 3-for-5 for 62 yards, including a 34-yarder to Mendez and a 21-yard strike to Ryan Huber (Manheim Central).
The North defense, meanwhile, was shutting the South down in the second half. Finally, midway the fourth quarter the South cut the gap when, on fourth-and -13, Martin scrambled and found Stephen Smalls (Conestoga Valley) for a 23-yard TD.
Martin hit Spartan teammate Mike Harris for the two-point conversion, making it 21-18 with 6:54 to play.
Following a Ryan Huber missed field goal; the South had 4:12 to put together a game-tying or potential game-winning drive.
But on fourth and 17 from the South 25, a hook-and-ladder play was fumbled and Keck scooped it up and motored in for a clinching score.
“I expected some kind a trick play from them,” explained Keck. “He (Harris) just dropped it and I was right there to pick it up and took off. I figured somebody would catch me, but they never did.”North is victor in All-Star contest
by Joel Schreiner
Sunday News Correspondent