Wolfpack Travels To Dutch Hollow Road Tonight
The new alignment that has taken place in Class D football means that teams are going to get to know one another awfully well by the end of the season, with each program scheduled for a pair of league games against each opponent.
Tonight will be the first introduction between Maple Grove and Clymer/Sherman/Panama at 7 p.m. on Dutch Hollow Road, and both teams know just how important picking up a win in Week 2 will be.
In their first game under new head coach Justin Hanft, the Red Dragons looked every bit the part of a Class D powerhouse, topping Springville 51-8 a week ago.
The Red Dragons broke out for four touchdowns in the opening quarter, as Zach Hendrick would go on to finish the day with three scores and 56 yards rushing while Taige Jones added scores on a 1-yard run and a 25-yard interception return.
“As far as the first quarter goes, we executed almost to perfection,” Hanft said of his team’s start to the season. “The kids put in a lot of work over the summer and in camps and came out on fire and ready to go. We stumbled a little bit in the second quarter with some penalties and a turnover. We were definitely fortunate that those miscues happened with a pretty big lead. If it was a little closer, that would have been a different situation. You still never want to have those mental mistakes in a game.”
For the CSP Wolfpack and head coach Ty Harper, there was never a doubt that facing Maple Grove would be a difficult challenge this year. With that said, the Red Dragons do pose trouble for any team because of their depth at skill positions.
“They’ve got some really dynamite kids over there,” said Harper. “I think Easton Tanner played a fantastic game for them, and he kind of jumps off the film. He’s a guy that we are concerned about. I thought Carson Crist played a nice game at quarterback. It looks like their defense picked up where they left off last year.”
The Maple Grove defense will have to be strong, particularly against the run, if they want to keep the Wolfpack offense off the field tonight.
In a 51-6 win over Portville in Week 1, Harper’s team racked up 367 yards on the ground behind an offensive line that will be one many keys to success tonight.
With Clymer/Sherman/Panama playing that game on Saturday after Maple Grove’s Friday win, Hanft was able to witness the performance in person.
“(A total of) 360 yards rushing is a big feat,” he said, “so, we’re definitely looking to try and be able to shut down their run game. We saw that game first hand. In my mind, they are like a mirrored reflection of our team.”
Playing on the road this evening, Harper knows that getting offensive momentum in the first series has the potential to make things easier for his offense.
“I think our guys are pretty charged up for it,” said Harper. “I think we definitely need to get off to a good start. Maple Grove is a tough place to play. We want to get out to a good start and go from there.”
Key among Harper’s rushers was Derek Ecklund, who finished his day with 143 yards while adding seven tackles against Portville. Quarterback Gerrit Hinsdale is also a threat through the air.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Wolfpack made a habit of meeting ball-carriers with more than one defender in Week 1, which could prove to be important against the athleticism of the Red Dragons.
“I thought we did a good job of gang-tackling, getting four or five guys on the ball, so that is something that we are going to need to try and continue doing.”