Serra Catholic grounded yet again

| Friday, Oct. 12, 2012, 11:54 p.m.

Serra Catholic's struggles this season continued Friday night at Fort Cherry, where the Eagles lost, 41-6.

But their biggest loss yet came at the start of the second quarter, when starting quarterback Zac Quattrone went down with what coach Jamie Eckles called a medial collateral ligament or posterior cruciate ligament injury.

Jason Albring came in at quarterback for two series before Austin Eismont finished the game. It was during Eismont's first drive behind center in the middle of the second when Eckles requested a running clock despite being down only 21 points.

“They're playing hard. I'm not mad at them,” Eckles said. “Their day will come.”

Quattrone has been the bright spot on an Eagles squad (0-7, 0-7 Black Hills Conference) that started eight sophomores. He scored Serra's only points on a 24-yard scamper around the right side in the first quarter to cut into the Rangers' lead to 13-6 and finished with three rushes for 27 yards.

Fort Cherry (3-4, 3-4) ended a four-game losing streak by taking advantage of the short fields given to them, including a muffed punt by Albring at the Serra 8-yard line, and built a 27-6 halftime lead after fullback John Findling barreled into the end zone from 2 yards out.

“He's classic Dick Butkus linebacker and Larry Csonka fullback,” coach Jim Shiel chuckled. “He's just a classic bruiser.”

The Rangers gained 242 yards rushing. Sophomore running backs Garrett Whalen and Dan Barley rushed for 103 and 89 yards, respectively. Barley found the end zone three times. Quarterback Matt Heslin rushed four times for 48 yards and a score.

“They got good speed, and they'll run hard,” Shiel said of his two sophomore ballcarriers.

Shiel reiterated the importance of the fake when running what he calls “a wishbone without all the outside stuff” this week in practice, telling his runners to grab their elbows to make it look like they're holding the ball.

“It looked like a lot of times (running backs) were busting through, and (linebackers) didn't know who had the ball,” Shiel said.

Fort Cherry kept their slim playoff hopes alive but still needs help from a familiar foe down the stretch. The Rangers need to win out and have Brentwood lose two out of their final three games because the Spartans own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Rangers have a chance at the postseason because Imani Christian, the team they host next week, is serving a two-year probationary period.

As Serra has done all season, it must move forward, even without its sophomore quarterback, and travel to the house of perennial power Clairton next week. It's a game Eckles knows could get out of hand.

“Those guys are out of this world,” he said. “I got to go see how many kids we got left to play.”

Justin Criado is a freelance writer.

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