For a decade, Stoner crafted dominant defenses as a coordinator at Central York. The performances of those groups earned him his first head coaching job two years ago.
Now, as Stoner's vision for Spring Grove football continues to crystallize, the coach can't help but feel a bit of déjà vu. Especially after the outing his defense turned in Friday, during a 10-7, cross-division win against Northeastern at Papermakers Stadium.
"It's getting eerily, scary like another defense that I used to coach," the Rockets' second-year coach said afterward.
In a game filled with penalties, physical play and precious little offense, it was Spring Grove's defense which shone brightest. The Rockets forced two turnovers and limited Northeastern's typically reliable ground game to 45 yards.
The Bobcats' only score -- a 58-yard touchdown pass to Braheem Riley -- came with 1:56 to play. But Spring Grove recovered the ensuing onside kick, and Northeastern had no timeouts left to stop the clock.
No, this wasn't a pristine performance by the home team. Spring Grove turned it over three times itself, including a fumble inside Northeastern's 5-yard line in the third quarter which halted a potentially game-icing drive. The Rockets also racked up 85 penalty yards and completed just one pass.
But after the calamity of last year's 1-9 campaign, Spring Grove is now 3-2 heading into next week's Division I opener at home against Stoner's old school -- Central York.
"Three-and-two isn't good enough," said Rockets junior defensive lineman DeAndre Gaskins, who had two sacks. "We just going to come back on Monday and keep going, week after week."
Senior quarterback Matt Runge led Spring Grove with 103 rushing yards and scored the Rockets' lone touchdown -- a 2-yard sneak early in the third quarter which gave Spring Grove a 10-0 lead.
That was all the cushion the Rockets' defense needed. Northeastern (3-2) punted seven times and didn't complete a pass until the third quarter.
"We watched enough film to know that (Spring Grove) hadn't played a bad defensive game all year," said Northeastern coach Brendan Brown, whose team was without senior receiver/linebacker Zach Moyer because of a knee injury.
The game's defining series took place early in the fourth quarter. The Bobcats offense picked its way down the field, moving from its own 5-yard line to Spring Grove's 16.
For the first time all night, the Rockets' defense was on its heels.
"We got together and said, 'Let's pick it up a little bit,' " Gaskins said.
On the next play, Spring Grove swarmed Northeastern quarterback Alec Miller.
Second down? Gaskins engulfed Miller for another sack.
Third down? One more sack, this time by senior Jonathan Gross.
The Rockets eventually took over on downs, and held on from there.
"You see the smile on my face," Stoner said. "I'm so excited for these kids, so excited for the town, so excited for the school.
"And I can't wait to play Central next week."
Northeastern 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Spring Grove 3 0 7 0 -- 10
SG -- Andrew Luckenbaugh 30 field goal, 2:26.
SG -- Matt Runge 2 run (Luckenbaugh kick), 8:36.
Ne -- Braheem Riley 58 pass from Alec Miller (Ethan Qualters kick), 1:56.
-- Ne -- SG
First downs -- 9 -- 10
Rushes-yards -- 36-45 -- 48-192
Passing -- 6-13-1 -- 1-6-2
Passing yards -- 140 -- 3
Total yards -- 185 -- 192
Punts -- 7-33.4 -- 5-31.2
Fumbles-lost -- 3-1 -- 1-1
Penalties-yards -- 7-75 -- 8-85
Rushing -- Northeastern, Daniel Adams 20-54, Jordan Kearse 1-3, Alec Miller 13-(-4), Joe Beckhardt 1-(-4), Team 1-(-4); Spring Grove, Matt Runge 26-103, Jeff Delaughter 19-75, Logan Hagerman 2-9, Kyle Micik 1-5.
Passing -- Northeastern, Alec Miller 6-13-1-140; Spring Grove, Matt Runge 1-5-1-3, Austin Nee 0-1-1-0.
Receiving -- Northeastern, Braheem Riley 3-84, Joe Beckhardt 2-31, Chris Curry 1-25; Spring Grove, Logan Hagerman 1-3.