Thoughts from Dallastown-Penn Manor
After his team's 35-20 bashing of Penn Manor, Dallastown coach Kevin Myers didn't sound like someone whose team had just improved to 3-0 on the young season.
"I'm happy we won," Myers said. "Don't get me wrong, 3-0 is awesome. But we gotta realize we got a lot of little things to clean up."
For sure, this Wildcats win wasn't perfect. Dallastown made its share of mistakes. Its offense in particular still lacked some consistency. But on the whole, the Wildcats had all the looks of a team that should be one of favorites -- if not the favorite -- heading into the Division I schedule.
Here's a few stream-of-conscious thoughts on Dallastown's victory.
1. Don't be fooled by the score or the stats. This game was a blowout. Dallastown dominated pretty much from the get-go. The Wildcats led 21-0 at half, and 28-0 midway through the third quarter. Penn Manor made the score look better with a pair of fourth-quarter garbage touchdowns, both of which came against the Wildcats' second team. Somehow, by game's end, Penn Manor had nearly doubled up Dallastown in total yardage (310 to 169). But in the first half, when the game was still in doubt, the Comets only managed 28 total yards and minus-6 rushing yards.
Dallastown was by far the better team, no matter what the stats say. To be fair, Penn Manor didn't help its cause much, making mistake-after-mistake in a dreary first-half performance.
2. The Wildcats' defense is f-a-s-t. Myers told me as much during the week, but it was still impressive to watch this unit swarm to the ball. Pittsburgh-bound linebacker Ben Kline gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so. At times, it seemed like he had a hand in almost every tackle. But there are other key components to this group. Linebacker George Christas had a couple nice plays near the line of scrimmage. Safety Jack Margavitch had an interception that he nearly took to the house. And defensive ends Bobby Esiaba and Ford Reinalda were constantly causing havoc.
Speaking of Esiaba and Reinalda...
3. Dallastown's defensive ends looked like game-changers. Esiaba had three sacks, despite playing with a monstrous hunk of athletic tape and protective plastic on his left hand to protect a broken pinky. He also delivered a big hit on a kickoff to force a fumble that Dallastown recovered. Reinalda, meanwhile, made his own special teams contribution. He flew in to block a punt in the first quarter, a play that set up the Wildcats' first touchdown. Reinalda, a senior who started three games at quarterback last year, also had a sack.
"Ford has really matured," Myers said. "Ford has done a wonderful job for us. He's making plays. Whereas last year he might have hung his head, this year he goes back at it."
With those two creating pressure off the ends, Dallastown's defense has yet another dimension.
4. The Wildcats' offense still needs a bit of work. There were flashes, of course. Kline had two huge plays -- a 59-yard scoring run in the second quarter and a 51-yard touchdown grab in the third. That was the good news. The bad? Those two plays accounted for 110 of the Wildcats' 169 total yards.
Once again, those numbers are a bit deceiving. Because of great field position created by turnovers or special teams plays, the Wildcats didn't always have to go very far. Dallastown had touchdown drives of 3, 5 and 18 yards.
On the other had, the Wildcats stalled out on a few promising drives, and coughed up a fumble inside the Comets 5-yard line late in the first half. Those are gaffes Dallastown won't be able to afford when it starts to play more quality opposition.
5. Next week should tell us a lot. At this point, we know Dallastown is good. They've shown us that much in the first three weeks. That defense should keep them in almost every game, and they have some pieces on offense. But at the same time, we need to have perspective. The three teams the Wildcats beat are a combined 3-6 on the season. Red Land got pounded by Dover on Friday. Penn Manor appears to be a rebuilding team. Warwick sure looks like a quality win, but it's even tough to tell exactly how good that team is.
For the last two years, West York has been sort of the lead dog in the county (pardon the pun). What's more, the Bulldogs thumped Dallastown 52-7 last year. Winning this game would cement, at least in my opinion, the Wildcats as the favorites heading into the start of the Division I schedule. And with Northeastern on tap in Week 5, it would seem to set up Dallastown to be 5-0 heading into division play.
That could position Dallastown for success not only in the league, but beyond as well.