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South’s versatility shows in victory vs. Muncy

Written by: on Saturday, September 14th, 2019

 

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette South Williamsport’s Gannon Guerrisky breaks a tackle against Muncy during Friday’s game at South Williamsport.

Sam Hostrander entered the season playing tight end and safety. Junior Ryan Rischoff played quarterback as a freshman. Friday night at Rodney K. Morgans Stadium, Hostrander and Rischoff played right and left guard, helping solidify an offensive line that dominated up front and paved the way toward victory.

South Williamsport might only have 25 players, but those 25 are versatile and tough. They also are undefeated. Unsung heroes like Hostrander and Rischoff are major reasons why.

South’s line took control early, Luke Winner and Gannon Guerrisky both topped 100 yards rushing and Austin Nash caught two touchdowns as South defeated defending District 4 Class A champion Muncy, 40-13. Hostrander also was part of a third-quarter goal-line stand as South (4-0) remained perfect this year, opened a 21-point halftime lead and continued showing it can win in many ways.

“They’re all coming together. We’re trying to take what we have and it says a lot for the players and the staff and how they’re rolling with the punches,” South coach Chris Eiswerth said. “I can’t say enough about all those guys because they put in a lot of time and effort.”

South has established a winning culture during Eiswerth’s nine-year tenure and that foundation has been built upon superb offensive line play. The names change, but the results do not and last night was a game for these current linemen to savor. Hostrander, filling in for injured Kyle Whipple, Rischoff, captain Dakota Hill, Jake Casella and freshman Lucas Long shined throughout, imposing their will and helping South produce 485 yards. The Mounties ran for 356 yards, Guerrisky gaining 154 yards on 10 carries in his first game this season.

The line exploded off the ball early and often as South scored on its first three series, taking a 21-0 second-quarter lead. The Mounties averaged more than eight yards per carry in the first half as those drives ended with a Landon Lorson to Nash 21-yard touchdown, a Winner 3-yard run and a Zack Miller 46-yard score. South closed the half with a six-play, 42-yard drive that Winner (128 yards, 3 touchdowns) capped by scoring from seven yards out, making it 28-7.

“I feel like we’re getting a lot better as we go on. Some of our guys are getting injured but we’re also bringing up new kids who are getting the job done,” Hostrander said. “South has always had a strong line and every year we keep trying to bring it up and up. We want to keep raising the bar.”

The line did that throughout the game before combining with the defense to drop the hammer on a determined Muncy team. A 51-yard Branson Eyer to Ross Eyer completion set Muncy up for a 1st-and-goal late in the third quarter and the Indians were two yards from making it a two-score game. Miller’s hustling tackle prevented Eyer from scoring and Hostrander made a clutch tackle on first down for no gain. Another Muncy run produced one yard, but a procedure penalty pushed it to the six and South forced both a short completion and an incompletion to end the threat.

South started its next offensive series at the 4, but needed just three plays to put the game away. Guerrisky ripped off a 60-yard run and two plays later, Winner burst through a hole on the left untouched, scoring from 34 yards out. Lorson (129 yards) found Nash (6 catches, 120 yards) for a 40-yard touchdown a series later as South went up 40-7 and improved to 4-0 for the first time since 2013.

“We’ve always been a goal-line team. We’ve always been able to stop teams and we wanted to make sure we got them there,” Hostrander said. “It helped us keep them on edge. Our running game is definitely our biggest asset and when we get those long runs that really helps us. We always try and get them down right off the start. That’s what sets the pace for the rest of the game.”

Muncy (2-2) produced 344 yards, but South’s defense repeatedly made big plays in key situations that denied it scores. Grant Bachman’s end zone interception, his fourth pick in two games, prevented Muncy from closing within 14 at halftime. South also held Muncy without points on three other possessions that went inside the Mountie 40-yard line.

“Defensively the guys held them down. We’ve been able to force a lot of turnovers,” Eiswerth said. “The guys are doing an unbelievable job defensively. We had some nice goal-line stands last week, too, and the kids really bucked up tonight.”

Muncy is one of the area’s youngest teams and lost the majority of its starters from last year’s district champion, but continued displaying its potential. The Indians won two straight entering South and played well at times despite all-state lineman Dakota Haueisen being sidelined by injury. Eyer, a freshman, threw for a career-high 139 yards and his cousin Ross, also a freshman, made a terrific 20-yard touchdown catch that pulled Muncy within 21-7 in the second quarter. Freshman running back Elijah Weikle scored a late 11-yard touchdown and Ross Eyer caught three passes for 95 yards.

Branson Eyer kept that drive going with a 23-yard run on third-and-long and Ross’s 51-yard third-quarter grab was another one for the highlight reel.

“Eyer to Eyer, the cousins always have a great connection,” Muncy coach Sean Tetreault said. “Ross is one of those basketball players. They know how to high-point the rebound, high-point the ball. It’s always great to see a freshman step up and make great plays for us like that.”

Muncy linebackers Bailey Hadzinkikolov and Ethan Gush both played strong games, combining for 19 tackles. Branson Eyer made a touchdown-saving pass breakup in the end zone during the third quarter and the Indians did not back down after South threatened to blow the game open early. Yes, there were mistakes that hurt Muncy, but they are fixable ones and the Indians still like the direction they are heading.

“We’re a young team and we had some unfortunate penalties, some mental breakdowns and it cost us. Instead of just yardage, it cost us points on the board,” Tetreault said. “It makes the score look a little higher, but we have some good things we can take from this game. Those young guys were getting reps and we’re going to get better throughout the season.”

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