Friday Night Leftovers: Week 5
Every great quarterback needs a go-to receiver, a guy he can count on to be in the right place at the right time and make the big catch when it's needed most.
It's taken some time, but Elco quarterback Jeff Martin appears to have found his big-play security blanket in senior wideout Andrew Olson.
Martin, who's closing in on the county career passing yardage record with 5,834 yards currently on his resume, connected with Olson nine times for 150 yards in Elco's 40-39 overtime win at Annville-Cleona on Thursday, including the game-winning 14-yard TD on fourth down.
The evolving rapport between Martin and Olson, combined with Tyler Horst's power running, has helped Elco dig out of an 0-3 start to the season to become a dangerous Section Three title contender.
It's a process that's all the more impressive when one considers Olson is playing varsity football for the first time this year as a senior, and it reached its peak in the fourth quarter on Thursday after Elco saw a 19-7 halftime lead dissolve into a 33-26 deficit.
"The line and Tyler have really carried the offense," said Elco coach Bob Miller said of his team's early-season reliance on the run game. "But when (A-C) started to shut that down and we started to get behind, those two finally started connecting. It's a great chemistry. It's (Olson's) first year playing, so it took a few games to get it, and the same thing with Jeff. I'm really proud of those two for connecting. It's neat to see."
MORE TESTS ON TAP FOR ELCO>> With their kickoff at Annville-Cleona having been moved up a day, the Raiders consequently had more time than usual to enjoy a one-point win over a county and section rival. The key now will be turning their attention forward to the last team that took down the Little Dutchmen and also scored 57 points on Friday.
The Donegal Indians (3-2, 2-0 Section Three) have similarly bounced back from a slow season start and will be rolling into Myerstown next weekend to further separate the contenders from the pretenders in Section Three. Both are currently boosted by a perfect mark in the section, meaning next week's loser will not only fall a game behind the other, but also stand on the wrong side of a potential tiebreaker down the road.
If that's not enough, the Raiders are scheduled to meet undefeated Northern Lebanon the following week in Fredericksburg for perhaps a season-defining Week 7 showdown. There's been plenty of reason to party as of late for Elco, and deservedly so. However the real work has just begun.
COUGARS DEFENSE SCRATCHES, CLAWS>> Ask most non-triple option coaches about their thoughts of leaving a field with zero passing yards and you're likely to get a shake of the head or a sour look. Palmyra's Chris Pope instead left Steel-High on Friday night with his head high and a win.
The Cougars racked up four interceptions and rode stellar special teams to their 17-6 win over the Rollers, finishing the first half of their season at a perfect 5-0. Having the ability to win in multiple ways is a hallmark of any good team, and Palmyra's 2015 campaign has been littered with those. The next challenge for the Cougars will be raising their all-around game against stiffer competition in divisional play, which won't be as forgiving to passing performances like Friday's.
The good news for the Palmyra faithful is their team seems to be finding new ways to win each week.
RODA READY WHEN CALLED UPON>> It couldn't have been easy for Cedar Crest senior quarterback Stevie Roda to surrender his starting job to wildly promising freshman Logan Horn a few weeks back.
But based on what happened on Friday night, Roda kept his head and heart in the game while on the sidelines and was ready when his number was called again.
Horn, unfortunately, was injured in the second half of the Falcons' 35-14 loss at Wilson on Friday night, giving Roda another opportunity to step on the field that he did not waste. In his relief role, Roda accounted for both Cedar Crest touchdowns, hitting Evan Horn with an 11-yard scoring pass and crossing the goal line himself on a one-yard run.
If healthy, Logan Horn figures to return to the starting lineup, but as Roda showed on Friday Cedar Crest has a more than viable alternative if he doesn't.