Little Lions Excel in 35-12 Win Over Mifflin County
Written by: Nate Grella on Saturday, August 25th, 2018
It was a near-sold out crowd Friday night at Memorial Field as State High opened up their season against Mifflin County. The crowd brought the noise as their Little Lions brought the fireworks. Early in the first quarter, it was apparent that State College was by far the better team. Although a missed field goal halted the first State drive, the defense turned around for a quick three and out. Isaiah Edwards would respond on the offensive side of the ball with two touchdowns in three minutes; one in the air and one on the ground. Between the scoring, the Little Lions had two punt returns for touchdowns courtesy of Keaton Ellis and Cohen Russell. Unfortunately, both were called back for penalties: one for a block in the back and one for holding.
The defining moment would occur on Mifflin County’s following drive. Down by two touchdowns and driving, Mifflin County was suddenly stopped in proverbial no-man’s land with a 4th and 14 on the 30 yard line. With the Huskies risking it all, the State High defense held strong for a 5 yard pass underneath that would cause a turnover on downs and essentially end Mifflin County’s hopes of keeping it close.
State High’s two long offensive drives, combined with a bit of a rest during a long Mifflin County possession, ended up being all Coach Matt Lintal would need to test out the young Huskies defense. On the following play he would call a vertical seam route to Cohen Russell that was left virtually unguarded by the secondary for an easy 75-yard score. State High would follow the touchdown in the next drive with a 73 yard jet sweep by Keaton Ellis to make it 28-0.
In the next possession, slotback Dresyn Green would follow up a 10 yard run by Michael Manyak with a 9 yard touchdown to make the score 35-0; the game seemed finished with minutes left until half-time.
— Nick Haushalter (@NickHaus75) August 25, 2018
Tommy Friberg exited the game with just minutes left in the second half. It was then up to Jaden Seider and Conrad Moore to finish the game. Friberg, although in the game for less than two quarters, achieved a near-perfect 156.0 passer rating and averaged 20.7 yards a pass for 145 yards, certainly impressive but slightly expected against a team as young and inexperienced as Mifflin County is right now.
As for the running backs, Isaiah Edwards looked explosive, but didn’t have that break-out rush that usually occured with him in the slot last year. Michael Manyak and Kyle Domico looked impressive as well. Keaton Ellis and Cohen Russell were the centerpieces of the offense early on and posed a serious threat. Brady Dorner even improved, making an impact as a converted quarterback to wide receiver.
On the offensive line, it is as confusing now as it was before. Coach Lintal began the game with a starting line of Cole-Van Horn-Cameron-Kifolo-Darcy, with previous year’s starter at left tackle, James Pone, coming in on rotation as a 6th man. This will most likely create more questions than answers on the offensive line going into a big matchup with a big name New Jersey catholic school, St Augustine Prep. Is there an issue with James Pone, such as a pre-existing injury or discipline issue that caused him to play less? Did Shane Cole really pull away the position from Pone during camp? Or was Lintal playing starters less because of the game looming?
As for defense, State High’s line was dominant throughout the game. Newcomer Addison Darcy was destructive on the interior, and looked very impressive in pushing back an inexperienced Huskies o-line. The Thompson twins also had a sack apiece and were able to create pressure. Cole Urbas and Zak Betts came out of the game early with injuries and did not return; although neither injury looked very serious. There is an unconfirmed report that Urbas’ cause for leaving early in the first quarter was due to muscle cramps. The much anticipated Sam Knipe played aggressively as always, which payed off for some big hits but resulted in a block-in-the-back penalty that took down Russell’s punt return touchdown.
9 yard sack by Darcy on 2nd and 17 ends 1st quarter with the Huskies on State College 32 yard line.
— Nick Haushalter (@NickHaus75) August 24, 2018
Synopsis: In sum, this was a game that was basically over before it began. Mifflin County went 2-8 last year and had to replace about ⅔ of their starters. State High returned a wealth of talent and experience (notable exceptions being Jackson Heasley, Brandon Clark, Paul Olivett, Robert Nachtman, and Ian Barr among others) and may have had improvement in some positions. Mifflin County just doesn’t have the personnel, at least right now, to compete with a loaded State High team currently ranked as the 2nd best team in the state for 6A. The Little Lions will look to improve on their start against St. Augustine Prep at 6 PM in Richland, New Jersey next week while Mifflin County will try to regain some of the positives from this matchup against a red-hot Hollidaysburg.
Follow WesternPAFootball.com on Twitter @WPAFootball