Dragons more than a 2-2 club
By Scott Franco
On paper — where they never play a high school football game — one could look at tonight’s Chestnut Ridge at Central game and might just think that the 4-0 Lions will be favored over the 2-2 Scarlet Dragons.
But Dave Baker and Max Shoemaker will tell you time and time again that they never have, and never will, play football on an 8×11, or any other size sheet, of paper.
“I think our kids know that not to be,” Shoemaker, Ridge’s coach, said when asked about his team possibly accepting the notion of the Lions being the favorite. “Ridge and Central are not that far apart. A lot of our kids know their kids, and not just through competition. Our kids know that 2-2 is a very deceiving record for them. Their past success speaks for itself.”
Baker, Central’s coach, has been part of a team for the past two seasons that experienced the taste of postseason success, especially last year when the program made it to the PIAA Class 3A final four. He doesn’t accept the underdog tag either.
“It doesn’t follow that pattern,” said Baker, whose team will host the Lions at 7 p.m. in a Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference matchup tonight. “None of us are happy about being 2-2, but we understand the reality. We played good teams and they beat us. We understand that we better buckle up our chinstrap and get to work.”
The Lions are coming off a 50-28 win at home over Central Cambria in which they led, 29-22, at halftime before turning it on in the second half. Central has experienced an up-and-down season with losses to Richland and Penn Cambria in between wins over Bishop Guilfoyle and last week’s 39-16 win against Forest Hills.
The Lions must figure out a way to contain the likes of Jeff Hoenstine, Hunter Smith and Eli Lingenfelter, while Central will keep a close eye on fullback Nick Presnell and quarterback Nate Whysong.
“The thing about (Ridge) … the fullback (Presnell) is very good, the quarterback is very good, and they are deceptive. Their plays look like the same play, but it is blocked a different way each time. It’s hard to identify. Our kids have to be really disciplined when playing them,” Baker said.
When asked how you stop the talents of a Hoenstine and his weapons, Shoemaker knows “stop” is the key word in the question.
“You just hope to hold him down and make a few plays of your own,” he said. “With Lingenfelter and his ability to go up and grab the ball, Hoenstine is so accurate, he is all over the place, extending plays, and Hunter Smith … he is the one that hurt us underneath last year.”
Presnell is coming off a five-touchdown game on 19 carries for 159 yards. Hoenstine only completed nine passes last week, but four of them were for touchdowns. Whysong, besides his 178 yards passing, also rushed for 158 yards on 10 carries and two scores.
Sounds like a recipe for a lot of offense.
“Their quarterback is very talented, very fast and he makes good decisions,” Baker said of Whysong. “It is the same pattern with Max. He runs the same offense and defense, and they’re both good.”
Shoemaker appreciates the kind of football player Presnell has become for his Lions.
“He is an old-school fullback. When he gets in the open, he can cut it loose, and he showed that (last week) when he out-ran a couple of people,” Shoemaker said.