LEVITTOWN — Six minutes, 21 seconds — that's what separated the Harry S Truman football team from the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat in a 2013 battle with Council Rock North.
And 6:21 was all that kept the Tigers from recording a second consecutive Suburban One League National Conference victory, this, after notching their first league win in three seasons the week before with a 29-0 triumph at William Tennent.
Leading the Indians 17-7 at Henry Morgan Stadium, Rock's season hung in the balance. With a lone game left with sister school South, a loss would surely keep North out of the district playoff hunt. A win would keep the Indians' postseason hopes alive.
Former Truman quarterback Jake Zolna had just duped the entire North defense, faking a handoff to RB Trystan Hunt then taking the ball around the right end for the Tigers' second touchdown of the game. Now Truman was up by 10 with 6:21 left in the game.
It took the Indian offense and Rock sophomore QB Brandon McIlwain a little over three minutes to take the lead, the winning touchdown drive encompassing 99 yards in less than a single minute.
While the loss left the Tigers stunned coming off the field that night, the good news is they responded well with three straight wins to close out the season including a convincing win over Conwell-Egan Catholic in the battle for the Mayor's Cup.
"It was a sign of bouncing back,' said first-year head coach Jon Craig. "I remember going to Bensalem the next week after losing to North and being worried about what the kids were going to be like.'
The Tigers were OK. Former QB Jake Zolna rushed 25 yards for a second-quarter score and a 70-yard sprint by former RB Bobby Hill gave Truman a 14-0 halftime lead. Hunt's 8-yard TD scamper sealed a 20-13 win.
While Zolna (Ursinus) and Hill have graduated along with running backs Jordan Livingston (DelVal) and Manny Fisher (Cheney), Hunt is back to lead the Tigers on both sides of the ball this season — as the featured back on offense and as a returning First Team ALL Suburban One National League linebacker on defense.
While some of the faces have changed, not the least of which is Craig, the new head coach in for the departed Ed Cubbage, many are the same as Craig has retained much of the existing staff under Cubbage.
The transition to Craig as the new coach has gone smoothly, say the players. While Craig has added Bob Kinney to run the offense, Truman still utilizes the triple-option.
"Everyone has the same goal in mind — trying to get the kids better and get more wins than we had last year,' said Craig.
"We have some different names carrying the ball and a new quarterback but we like where things are going,' the coach added.
New under center this year for the Tigers are junior Mark Lopez and sophomore Jorden Freeman. A successor to Zolna, however, has yet to be chosen.
"Both guys have been great so it's going to be a tough decision because they are great athletes who can throw the ball as well as run it. They bring a lot to our offense.'
Helping out in the backfield are seniors Brandon Hill and Sampson Bloh, along with juniors Maurice Jackson, Justin Fant and Corey McCloud.
"Because of our scheme, we want to rotate a lot of guys at the tailback position,' said Craig. "Trysten Hunt is the first guy in but we definitely have some other guys who are capable of making some big plays for us.'
Last season, Bobby Hill electrified the Truman faithful with some double-digit sprints out of the backfield. This year, the Tigers are counting on Bloh.
"He's a guy who can take off; he has some top-end speed that we like,' added Craig on the chances of Bloh breaking some big runs.
At wideout, senior Terez Franklin and junior Darius Deleon are in for receivers that have since graduated. While Franklin has looked good in camp, Deleon has undergone a major conditioning transformation in the offseason, the coach says.
"He went from someone who didn't seem like they fit on a varsity field to someone that can run, that can catch and that can take a hit,' said Craig "He really got his body in great shape for this varsity season.'
The Tigers return a bunch of experience on the O-line and that's good, Craig says. Seniors Isaac Flowers and Rob Lancieri along with juniors Connor McAdams and Bailey Stone will anchor the unit.
When graduation took place, Truman lost Second Team All-SONL center A.J. Jenkins (Thaddeus Stevens). Junior Tim Kenny-Schwartz is currently getting most of the reps at that position and Truman hopes he is the right man for the job.
"We're going to have a lot of push,' said Flowers. "We run the triple-option so it's more finesse, more fast stuff. We have some bigger guys in size and also some smaller guys to plug in there when we need them.'
McAdams, Lancieri and Flowers, along with senior Yventong Charles anchor the D-line while Hunt, Jackson, and Kenny-Schwartz line up at linebacker.
"We have a couple decent guys inside at D-tackle like Yventong Charles and Connor McAdams,' said Flowers. "Me and Rob (Lancieri) are outside on the ends so we'll have pretty good containment.'
Free is the strong safety while Bloh, Lopez, and Jackson are at free safety. Franklin, McCloud, and Deleon could all see time at the cornerback position.
Now a member of the Suburban One League (SOL) Continental Conference along with Rock North, South, CB East, CB West, Norristown, Quakertown and Hatboro, Truman will see the Indians Oct. 11 in a Homecoming game. Ironically, the battle with CR North was the Homecoming game last year.
"It could be a sequel but we're hoping for a better ending on our part,' said Craig. "Our kids want another chance to take them on. The staff — we want another chance to make some better calls and redeem ourselves.'
Truman opens the season Saturday, Aug. 30 against Bensalem, now a non-league foe. Then, it's home against non-league Upper Dublin (Sept. 6), at Cardinal O'Hara (Sept. 12) then back home in a league opener against CR South (Sept. 19).