Bermudian Springs High junior running back Tristan Sponseller hears the comparisons to former Eagle running back Tyler Fitzkee all of the time.
They've both played fullback on the football team and they both have been star wrestlers.
On Friday night in Littlestown, the similarities increased. Sponseller led the way for the Eagles in a 24-8 victory.
Two years ago in the first round of the District 3 Class AA playoffs, Fitzkee seemingly had his coming-out party as a junior against then- previously undefeated Littlestown. He rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns, had 110 yards receiving and two touchdown catches, and had four extra points and a field goal.
On Friday, Sponseller rushed 31 times for a career-high 157 yards and a touchdown to lead a Bermudian offense that gained 263 yards of total offense and improved to 9-0 with a matchup next week against rival Biglerville.
"We always felt coming in that we wanted to try to stay balanced," head coach Jon Defoe said. "We felt like it was a fullback game with some of the things they were trying to do on the defensive front and shooting gaps and stuff. Zach Stroup had a great game as the lead blocker. It wasn't a huge game for him statistically, but he did a great job making holes."
Sponseller got the scoring started for Bermudian on a 4-yard touchdown run up the middle to put the Eagles ahead 7-0.
That score would stand until the half, but Bermudian had plenty of chances of increase
On the Eagles' second drive, Bermudian quarterback Michael Moore dropped back on third-and-12 and threw a perfect pass to a wide-open Austin Felts in the end zone, but the ball hit off Felts' fingertips and to the ground.
"Felts has great hands," Defoe said. "He was sick that he dropped it. That was probably the best executed pass play we had all year. I told him we would probably need him again tonight so keep his head in it."
With less than 30 seconds remaining in the first half, Moore received the Littlestown punt at his 35-yard line, broke a few tackles and rumbled into the end zone in what the Eagles thought gave them a 14-0 lead heading into the half. A holding call nullified the play and kept the score at 7-0.
"I told the team heading into the half that we dropped a touchdown and had one called back," Defoe said. "We must make amends for them. We had to stay patient."
The Eagles did just that as they came out of the half and put together an eight-play, 61-yard drive that included a barreling 28-yard run by Sponseller that took the Eagles down to the Littlestown 15-yard line. Six plays later, running back Zach Stroup dashed in for a 2-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles were ahead 17-0 with 10:56 to go in the fourth quarter and sitting at the Littlestown 34-yard line after intercepting a pass by Dustin Crouse. On the first play from scrimmage, Moore dropped back and threw a beautiful ball that Felts stretched out and dove in the end zone to haul in the touchdown pass.
On the Thunderbolts' next possession, they finally got into an offensive rhythm. On the third play of the drive, Crouse found Seth McGregor down the seam for a 32-yard pass, down to the Eagle 7-yard line. Two plays later, Crouse ran in from seven yards out for his sixth rushing touchdown of the season. On the two-point conversion, Crouse found Ryan Rick to make it a 24-8 game.
The Thunderbolts forced Bermudian into a three-and-out on
On a fourth-and- 5, Crouse found an open Garrett Trout on a crossing route for 14 yards and a first down. On Littlestown's next play, Bermudian's Chris McManama busted through the offensive line and tackled Crouse just as he was receiving the snap, forcing a fumble that Bermudian would recover, and ending the Thunderbolts' hopes of a comeback.
The Bermudian defense held Littlestown to only five yards rushing all night, and continuously pressured Crouse forcing him to roll out of the pocket, sacking him four times.
"I thought coming into the game that we could limit their running game," Defoe said. "I thought we could make them one-dimensional and limit what they can do. I think we did an outstanding job against the run. Our defense has only given up four touchdowns. That is unbelievable in nine weeks."
Bermudian faces Biglerville next week with the chance to end the regular season 10-0. Littlestown faces a Fairfield team coming off their first win in 38 games.
Bermudian 0 7 10 7 -- 24
Littlestown 0 0 0 8 -- 8
BeS -- Tristan Sponseller 4 run (Aaron Rebert kick), 5:58
BeS -- Zach Stroup 2 run (Rebert kick), 7:46
BeS -- Rebert 28 FG, 3:21
BeS -- Austin Felts 34 pass from Michael Moore (Rebert kick), 10:48
Lt.-- Dustin Crouse 7 run (Ryan Rickell from Crouse), 10:01
-- BeS -- Lt
First downs -- 20 -- 11
Rushes-yards -- 51-208 -- 22-5
Passing -- 3-14-1 -- 12-25-1
Passing yards -- 54 -- 126
Total yards -- 262 -- 131
Punts -- 7-31.8 -- 6-34.6
Fumbles-lost -- 0-0 -- 3-2
Penalties-yards -- 1-15 -- 4-35
Rushing -- Bermudian Springs, Sponseller 31-157, Stroup 20-52, Moore 1-(-1); Littlestown, Dustin DeGroft 6-9, Crouse 15-(-3), Ryan Rickell 1-(-1).
Passing -- Bermudian Springs, Moore 3-14-1-54; Littlestown, Crouse 12-25-1-126.
Receiving -- Bermudian Springs, Stroup 2-20, Felts 1-34; Littlestown, Seth McGregor 4-61, Rickell 4-29, Nick Hornbrook 3-22; Garrett Trout 1-14.