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| October 13, 2021

McCaskey has not quit on Interim Head Coach Ben Thompson

Game Preview: Penn Manor (4-3, 0-2) @ McCaskey (2-5, 0-2)

After both teams started 2-1 and a tie for first place in Section 1, each has faced significant setbacks the last few weeks. Penn Manor has been taking to the woodshed by Wilson (40-6) and Manheim Township (48-14) the past two games, while McCaskey is riding a four game losing streak.

For those of you who aren’t up to date, the Red Tornadoes had a coaching change this off-season when Sam London abruptly resigned 1 week before their pre-season camp. Interim Head Coach Ben Thompson was courteous enough to stop by to talk about that and what else has occurred for his squad this year:

CF: You were named Interim Head Coach of J.P. McCaskey, less than a week away from pre-season camp, what has the adjustment been like?
Coach Thompson: It has been non-stop since that moment. I really haven’t had much time to think about much outside of getting the team ready for Fridays. What I can say is that the Athletic Director, High School Admin, and Staff, along with the coaching staff, and players have been very supportive which has made the transition go fairly smooth. And I appreciate this opportunity. 

CF: In your first game you were able to end the 26 game losing streak, tell us about the emotions going leading into that game and after?
Coach Thompson: Nerves, lots of nerves, and excitement going into the game just like any game. We had a great camp and a solid week of practice going into that game so we were confident in our guys to get the job done. After the game, there was a rush of relief and joy that all the hard work these kids have been putting in since November of last year paid off

CF: What was your background as a player/coach before this stop?

Coach Thompson: I graduated from Coatesville Senior High School in 2004 I was a 3-year varsity starter on the offense and defensive line and a captain my senior year. I received a full scholarship to play at Florida A&M where I was a utility guy(6th man on the O-Line, Tight End, Fullback, Special Teams) and played as a true freshman. I finished my career at the Cheyney University of Pennsylvania as a 2-year starter at Defensive End. As far as my coaching career, that started with the arrival of the previous head coach, Coach London (2020). Since coaching here I have coached or helped coach the Offensive Line, Defensive Line, Linebackers, Corners, Running backs, Receivers, and had planned on being the Defensive Coordinator this year before falling up. 

CF: Looking over the last few games, it doesn’t appear your squad has quit, what does it say about the character of your team considering all the circumstances?
Coach Thompson: This is a special group of kids that don’t know the meaning of quit. They are a resilient bunch of guys that love the game of football and love playing for the person next to them. No matter what the circumstance they are going to stick together and fight till the end. 

CF: For the Million Dollar question do you want to have the Interim label lifted and become permanent Head Coach?
Coach Thompson: I want whatever is best for the program and its future. If that puts me at the top then that’s something I would treasure, if not I will do whatever I can to help the next one up and support any way that I can. 

If Penn Manor wins it will be the first time they will finish 500 or better in the John Brubaker era. McCaskey and Penn Manor have a bitter rivalry that dates back nearly 25 years, I will be covering this Section 1 tilt for updates follow me on Twitter @carljfred

Donegal @ Lampeter-Strasburg Recap:

This game will be one to forget for the Donegal Indians, as they were absolutely drubbed by the Pioneers 55-0. LS not only asserted their will, they made a statement for the entire district that they are going to be a tough out. The Pioneers defense was as advertised as the Indians offense did not even record a first down until the fourth quarter.

Since they gave up 45 points Week 1 against Warwick, they have not allowed that total combined in their last 6 games (75 points total). Think about that for a second, since their loss they have yet to allow anyone to score over 14 in a game! Donegal who was just coming off a covid layoff is still in good position for a potential playoff run, would be wise to burn the game film from this one.

Game of the Week: Hempfield @ Manheim Tonwship

This rivalry game has major District playoff implications with the Hempfield Black Knights (4-3, 1-1) travel to face the red hot Manheim Township Blue Streaks (5-2, 2-0). Sophomore Quarterback Hayden Johnson (19 touchdowns, 5 interceptions) has Township rolling winning their last four contests by an average margin of 27 points.

Hempfield comes into this game after a crushing setback in their loss to Cedar Crest (20-13). The Black Knights certainly cannot have four turnover like they did against the Falcons. With weapons like Anthony Ivey, Isaiah Jones, Nick Good and Landon Kennell, Hempfield must take care of the football or this could be a one sided. My partner Patrick Weider will be covering the game give him a follow for updates @footballcoach79.

Stats, Stats and More Stats

– Columbia (5-1, 2-0) continued its District Playoff push with a 35-13 victory over Northern Lebanon last Friday. Robert Footman and Company have a one game, one play at a time focus, they will need that when they travel to Annville Cleona (3-3, 2-0) this week.

– Wilson (4-3, 2-0) has woken up from their early season struggles, and having star Running Back Jadyn Jones (68 carries, 470 yards, 8 touchdowns) back certainly helps. Since his return the Bulldogs have rushed for an average of over 200 yards per contest. Keep an eye out for their week 10 battle with Manheim Township, the Section 1 title could be in play.

– Has to be mentioned that Octorara Quarterback Weston Stoltzfus is having an excellent season. He continued his interception free campaign when he tossed four more touchdowns in their victory over Elco. On the season he has 17 touchdown passes and has kept the Braves (5-2, 1-1) in line for a playoff run. They welcome Pequea Valley (1-5, 0-2) who is allowing over 46 points a game.

– Anthony Bourassa (148 carries, 1223 yards 16 touchdowns) is an exceptional running back, along with a stout offensive line has the Cocalico Eagles humming winning their past two games. While they face a tough Elizabethtown squad this week, look for their battles against Warwick and Manheim Central the following weeks to determine Section 2.

– Donegal @ Ephrata should be a good one to watch this week, Andre Weidman is a one man wrecking crew for the Mountaineers averaging over 7 yards per carry. Weidman galloped over the Crusaders defense last week with 232 yards on the ground. The Mountaineers cannot overlook the Indians before their match-up at LS in two weeks.

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