Springfield — The old adage goes that if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none. The Springfield Cougars have little time for such conventional thinking. In fact, with their no-huddle offense, the Cougars seem to have little time for anything. Sophomore Charlie Carbin and Junior Brian Allen shared the snaps Friday night in Springfield's 45-6 dismantling of Strath Haven. It was the Cougars' first victory over the Panthers since a 21-13 triumph in 1995.
Carbin led four touchdown drives, Allen three.
"I don't look at it as a competition,' Allen said. "It's two quarterbacks looking to win.'
Two distinctly different quarterbacks, he should have added. Carbin fits the mold of a pocket passer. At 6-foot-1, 210 pounds he can stand in pressure as tacklers — smaller than him in many cases — bounce off his sturdy frame. Carbin possesses a strong arm that opens windows to his receivers that otherwise wouldn't have been there. Facing a 4th and 9 in Panthers territory late in the first half, Carbin stood poised in the pocket and fired a bullet to Mike Fleagle who came down with the ball between two defenders. Colin Braconnier completed the drive two plays later with his second rushing score of the game.
Allen, on the other hand, epitomizes the dual-threat quarterback, though he doesn't necessarily rely on his legs. In the first quarter, he found James Harris open over the middle. Harris eluded several Panthers defenders on his way to a 38 yard touchdown to open the scoring. After Strath Haven finally breached the Cougars end zone with a John Ruza 15-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter, Allen responded with the play of the game. As the Panthers brought pressure on a 3rd and 4 at their own 46, the Cougars quarterback scrambled left out of the pocket. He pump faked twice before tucking the ball and feigning the run. Allen then stopped on his heels and stiff-armed a Strath Haven defender in the face. A Braconnier block bought his quarterback enough additional time to find Alex Masino deep in Panthers territory. Masino fell to the ground with ball in hand.
A few plays later, Ricky Sterling punched it in from four yards out to claim his third touchdown of the game. Dylan Power completed the scoring with a one-yard rush early in the fourth.
All in all it was a dominant Springfield performance. Allen accounted for 109 yards and a touchdown. Carbin added 48 yards through the air.
Strath Haven, a team ravaged by injury, had no answer.
"We knew about their up-tempo offense coming in. Our guys still got a little worn out. We had eight or nine playing both ways,' said Panthers coach Kevin Clancy. "The kids played hard though. I'm as proud of them tonight as I've ever been.'
Coming off consecutive losses that saw the Cougars score a paltry 13 points, Springfield coach Tom Kline was justifiably praising his team's performance.
"We had some adversity over the past few weeks. We played two really good football teams. We've been preaching ' play as a team' all year. Tonight everything was cooking.'
Senior lineman Nick Apostolu agreed.
"Tonight was the best our offense has clicked yet. The defense has played amazing all year. We had faith in our [offensive] system. We all worked together this week and did our thing.'
The story of the game, though, was the play of the quarterbacks. Kline beamed as he spoke of his two passers. The coach, as head coaches do, shied away from confirming his use of the two quarterback system going forward.
"Both kids looked really good tonight,' he said. "I don't want to give anything away. I just know that both [quarterbacks] will be part of our success.'