Homer-Center bows out of state football playoffs
HERSHEY — Too much James Warren, too many penalties and a usually potent ground attack stuck in neutral by a swarming defense.
End result: District 6 champion Homer-Center saw its season come to an end Saturday in a 40-7 loss to District 3 champion Steelton-Highspire in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal game at Hersheypark Stadium.
Warren, Steelton-Highspire's stealthy senior quarterback, accounted for four touchdowns — all runs — and the Rollers held the Wildcats to 102 rushing yards, keeping 1,000-yard backs Ean Lee and Mike Newhouse in check.
“We knew they had an aggressive defense, so our plan was to come out and go right at them,” Homer-Center coach Greg Page said. “We just couldn't stop them. I thought we had some success the first couple of drives, but they have some great athletes, and if you don't fight off blocks, they make you pay. And that's what they did.”
Steelton-Highspire, which improved to 12-1 and will take on District 2 champ Old Forge in a semifinal game next weekend, gouged Homer-Center for 336 yards rushing and 16 first downs.
Homer-Center, the Heritage Conference champ, scored first when quarterback Aaron Berezansky scored on a 2-yard sneak with 4:21 to go in the first quarter.
After that it was all Steelton-Highspire, which won PIAA titles in 2007 and '08.
Warren's 2-yard plunge made it 7-7 with 1:08 to go in the first quarter.
Warren zoomed 16 yards to give the Rollers a 14-7 lead with 1:49 to go before halftime. A late-hit flag against Homer-Center kept the drive alive.
There were plenty of flags Saturday. The Rollers drew 14 penalties for 133 yards, and the Wildcats were whistled for 12 penalties for 108 yards.
The 26 combined penalties tied the record for a state quarterfinal game.
Warren's third touchdown keeper of the first half — an 8-yarder — put the Rollers up 20-7 at the break.
Warren carried 14 times for 182 yards.
“Warren was tremendous,” Page said. “Give credit to their guys. They had a wall of blockers out there, and we let it get away from us.”
Steelton-Highspire iced it with three second-half scores.
Warren darted 7 yards early in the fourth to make it 27-7, then he fired a 29-yard strike to Logan Davis to making it 33-7 with 8:04 to play. Zedaah Moffitt ran 4 yards to cap the scoring with 5:14 to go.
Davis set up that drive with a 46-yard punt return.
Later, Davis picked off Berezansky to ice it with 2:25 to play.
Lee, who entered the game with 1,354 rushing yards, had 89 yards on 17 carries. Newhouse, who had rushed for 1,051 yards, was held to 43 yards on 10 carries as Homer-Center was held to 131 total yards and just eight first downs — none in the second quarter.
The Wildcats, who were in the postseason for the first time since 1994, finished 12-2 — two years after going 0-9.
“This town deserves a winner, and they got one this year,” Page said. “Everything (the town) has done for us has been tremendous. This game got a little out of hand, but I'm proud of a group of seniors, who did historical things for our football program.”
Jeff Reinhart is a staff writer for The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News and Pennlive.com.