Thoughts from Littlestown-York Catholic
After his team's lopsided win over York Catholic on Friday, Littlestown coach Mike Lippy got around to talking about the amount of community support his Bolts team has received. Lippy mentioned how, for the last four Fridays, a group of players has gone out for breakfast at the Firehouse Grill, a place near the high school. "For the last four weeks, somebody has paid for all their breakfasts," Lippy said. Safe to say those Bolts players can look forward to another free meal next Friday. Littlestown was quite impressive against the Irish. And with their two toughest games (on paper, at least) out of the way, the Bolts appear to have a clear path to a Division III title. Here a few thoughts on the Bolts performance. (Also, we'll once again be putting our power rankings up on Monday this week. Sorry for the delay...) 1. Littlestown did it with defense. So many of us seem to identify this Bolts team with its high-scoring, get-the-ball-and-go offense. And rightfully so. But Littlestown showed Friday it can win with defense, too. The Bolts forced four York Catholic turnovers in the first half, and turned three of those into touchdowns. The last of those scores came on Tanner Mitz's 29-yard interception return, which gave the Bolts a 27-0 lead. Mitz ended up with two interceptions on the day. "Our No. 1 goal this year was to be more athletic on defense, to be hot to the ball," said senior QB Austin Reynolds, who also starts at safety. "We're flying around and hitting." If Littlestown can continue to team that playmaking defense with its high-scoring offense, this team will be tough to top come the postseason. 2. Austin Reynolds was as advertised. Before Friday, all I knew about Reynolds the football player was what I read in the stat sheet. Having finally seen him play, it's easy to see how those numbers came to be. No, Reynolds didn't have his A game Friday -- and he said as much afterward -- but he showed his rare combination of foot speed, size and arm strength. His lone touchdown pass was dart to Karem Bentajar, thrown on the run and in a perfect spot to allow Bentajar room to run (which he did). Reynolds was also quite dangerous with his legs (8 rushes, 93 yards). On one play in the first quarter, Reynolds scrambled out of the pocket, sized up a York Catholic linebacker, and served up a stiff arm that drove the defender into the ground. Not everyday you see a quarterback do something like that. 3. The Bolts offense as a whole was solid. Littlestown wasn't quite at its high-flying best Friday. Lippy admitted to calling a bit of a cautious game. But 417 total yards is nothing to scoff at, and the Bolts came up with plenty of offense when they needed it. After York Catholic's lone touchdown of the game -- a 25-yard interception return by Joshua Bauer -- the Bolts drove 73 yards on 10 plays (all rushes) before Sean Doherty plowed in for the final of his three touchdowns. Overall, the Bolts finished with 252 yards on the ground. And if Reynolds had been a tad sharper, the scoreline could have been even uglier. "We were so close on a couple fade balls," Lippy said. "If we could have hit a couple of those, we could have opened it up. "Austin wasn't the same Austin necessarily with all his passes. But you can't do it every week. I told him, you can't through the whole season without making a few mistakes." 4. Where do the Bolts go from here? Littlestown looks like a good bet to go undefeated through the regular season. All due respect to a very solid Bermudian Springs team -- which visits Littlestown in Week 9 -- but I don't see anybody else in Division III knocking off the Bolts. An undefeated season would likely mean a No. 1 or 2 seed in the District 3 Class AA playoffs. That would mean Littlestown wouldn't have to face defending state champs Lancaster Catholic until the district final. We're getting way ahead of ourselves here, of course, but it's hard not to with the talent this Littlestown team puts on the football field week in and week out. The Bolts still have plenty of work to do. But Friday was just one more example of how high this team's ceiling is. "They got a nice football team," Lippy said of York Catholic. "It's 41-6 ... and we're not satisfied. We still made a lot of mistakes."