Ah, the sounds of summer. The burgers are sizzling on the grill, the water is splashing in the pool and the sholder pads are crashing together.
Saturday night was the fifth annual TripCounty All-Star Football Game, held this year at Hempfield instead of Manheim Central, and all the hype said it would be a shootout.
But someone forgot to tell the players, as the South, coached by Conestoga Valley’s Gerald Novak, notched their first-ever win against the North, coached by Elco’s Mark Evans, in a squeaker, 28-27.
“i am a happy man right now,” Novak said. “I told the kids if they give me 4.5 seconds in every play, we can win this game.”
That is exactly what they did, as they matched the North touchdown for touchdown, and the game came down to an extra-point attempt in the fourth quarter by Seth Miller of the North, which was blocked by Mitch Messner of Garden Spot.
The North took the opening kickoff and hit pay dirt after a 90-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard pass from Hempfield’s Mike Callahan to manheim Central’s Graham Zug for the touchdown.
Zug led all recievers with four touchdowns, catching nine passes for 214 yards.
For the South, McCaskey’s Lance Diamond finished his football career by passing for 196 yards and completing 12 of 17 attempts.
It was the South that would next find the end zone.
Aaron Pennebecker of Cocalico scored from 1 yard out for the first of his two touchdowns.
Andrew Stolzfus of Garden Spot connected on the PAT, but the South was whistled for a penalty so they were forced to try it again. This time they missed, but the North was called for an illegal formation and Stolzfus got another chance. This time he missed wide left, but again the North lined up illegally, and on his fourth attempt, Stolzfus connected to tie the score at 7 at the end of the first period.
In the second quarter, both teams switched quarterbacks.
the North went with Central’s Brandon Miller, while Novak opted for Wilson’s Eric Hetrich,
Neither player disappointed the fans, as Miller went right to work with his favorite target, Zug, and teh two ended up connecting on three touchdowns – two in the second quarter. The first was a 40-yarder and the second from eight yards out. Then in the fourth quarter, just before Miller left the game with an ankle injury, he hit Zug for an 80-yard strike.
Meanwhile, Hetrich hit teammate Zach Skaf with a 36-yard TD pass and Garden Spot’s Josh Fisher with a 59-yarder.
Fisher was the South’s leading reciever with 181 yards and seven catches.
Trailing by seven going into the fourth quarter, the North defense,led by Hempfield’s Brandon King and Cedar Crest’s Mario Lucien, forced the South to Punt. On the kick, the official ruled the ball bounced off Zug and gave the ball back to the South on the North’s 22 yard line.
The North defense held again, giving the ball back to the offense at its own 20. On the second play, Miller hit Zug for the 80-yarder to pull within an extra point.
But Messner got a hand on the kick, and the South had its firstever victory.
“It was real important for me to play well,” Diamond said. “I was hurt here (at Hempfield) last season and couldn’t finish that game, so I wanted to come out and play well.”
Even though his team lost, Zug was happy to be part of the game.
“This was a lot of fun. Normally you line up against these guys, and now you’re on the same team. Even though we didn’t come out on top, it wa a lot of fun.”
Novak, who can neo say he has coached the South to its only victory in the series, couldn’t have been happier.
“Its’s fantastic!” he said just before he received a Gatorade shower. “Like I told the kids, every play can make a difference, just like that extra point.”
by Tom Arnold
Sunday News Correspondent