Hopefully no one told coach Mike Kapusta that it would be easy to turn around the Hatboro-Horsham football program. If that is what he was told, the new coach is learning otherwise...the hard way.
For every play the Hatters made Friday night at War Memorial Stadium in Doylestown — and they made some really nice plays — they made a couple of plays that they won't enjoy watching during film study this week.
Whether it was bad or shaky snaps, lack of protection for the quarterback, missed tackles or blown coverages on defense, Kapusta knows he still has a ton of work ahead of him.
Central Bucks East, on the other hand, was sloppy at times, but had the advantage of handing the ball to Alex Gibson. The sophomore merely rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns and picked off a pass and returned it for another score the lead the Patriots to a 37-19 Suburban One Continental Conference victory.
The first three quarters was a classic Continental Conference battle. Each team had chances to break away, but mistakes or big plays kept it close.
After H-H's Brian Ehrlich hit a 27-yard field goal, Gibson answered with a 45-yard touchdown run.
East's Oliver Boucher nailed a 30-yard field goal to put the Patriots on top 9-3 early in the second quarter before the teams traded touchdowns — H-H's was a 26-yard Morris screen pass to Jeff Panara and East got an 18-yard Zach Nelsen-to-Ryan Kronmiller touchdown toss.
Ehrlich then hit a 40-yard FG in the waning seconds of the first half to make it 17-13, the way it stayed through the third quarter.
But then Gibson — and his offensive line — took over.
First, after the Hatters had controlled the ball for the final seven minutes of the third quarter and first minute of the fourth before being forced to punt, Gibson made H-H pay for a 5-yard kick when he busted off the right side for 62 yards to the 1-yard line before the Hatters' John O'Malley pulled him down.
He scored on the next play to give East a 24-13 lead.
"We've not had him the last two weeks,' CB East coach John Donnelly said. "He's so explosive. He can take it the distance every time he touches the ball.'
H-H bounced right back when quarterback Jack Morris hooked up with O'Malley for a 26-yard touchdown pass to pull the Hatters within 24-19 with six minutes left.
But Gibson had an answer. He carried both times on the Patriots' next possession, the second one a 50-yard touchdown. He then added a 38-yard interception return two minutes later and CB East had its Continental Conference victory.
And it left Kapusta looking for answers. Whether it's not knowing how to play in a close game after a couple of not-so-successful seasons, or if it was just being overpowered, Kapusta wasn't interested in the whys, just the answers.
"Whatever you want to attribute it to, I can't worry about the cause,' Kapusta said. "I've got to worry about the solution. I'm still searching.'
The Hatters didn't have much of a running game, but Morris completed 16 of 20 passes for 193 yards and the two touchdowns. O'Malley had seven receptions for 112 yards, while Panara had four more for 101 yards.
But Kapusta said it was a team thing.
"You can't blame it on one guy or one group,' he said. "We did not play well up front whatsoever, but the quarterback has happy feet when he does have time and he's making bad decisions. The receivers are blowing their routes, we're blowing coverages. It's very frustrating.'
Donnelly, meanwhile, is happy that his team is finally getting healthy just in time for next week's rivalry game against Central Bucks West.
"I think we're a good football team,' he said. "The healthiest we've been all season will be next week against West. And we took Abington deep into the fourth quarter, North Penn it was 0-0 at half. We're still sloppy, there are things we have to clean up, but we're a good football team and we're going to keep getting better.'
Hatboro-Horsham 3 10 0 6—19
Central Bucks East 6 11 0 20—37
HH: Ehrlich 27 FG
CBE: Gibson 45 run (kick failed)
CBE: Boucher 30 FG
HH: Panara 26 pass from Morris (Ehrich kick)
CBE: Kronmiller 18 pass from Nelsen (Ilkiw pass from O'Keefe)
HH: Ehrlich 40 FG
CBE: Gibson 1 run (Boucher kick)
HH: O'Malley 26 pass from Morris (run failed)
CBE: Gibson 50 run (kick blocked)
CBE: Gibson 38 interception return (Boucher kick)
HH CB East
First downs 21 12
Yards rushing 36 296
Yards passing 266 54
Total offense 302 350
Passing 25-19-2 6-3-1
Fumbles-lost 5-1 2-0
Penalties 6-39 10-95
Punts 1-5.0 0-0.0
Hatboro-Horsham: Panara 10-37; Nworu 7-21; Albano 1-4; Morris 13-2; Kwon 1-(-5); Walsh 3-(-23).
Central Bucks East: Gibson 18-245, 3TD; Passman 6-36; Warren 4-10; Gressgott 1-7; Nelsen 2-(-1); Sager 1-(-1).
Hatboro-Horsham: Morris 20-16-2—193, 2TD; Walsh 5-3-0—73.
Central Bucks East: Nelsen 6-3-1—54, TD.
Hatboro-Horsham: O'Malley 7-112, TD; Panara 4-101, TD; Obrecht 4-33; Nworu 2-15; Cameron 1-5.
Central Bucks East: Kronmiller 2-54, TD; Ilkiw 1-0.