ENOLA – What a difference a year made for the East Pennsboro varsity football team. The same can not be said for Waynesboro, who lost 38-12 to the Panthers on Friday on a hot and muggy late October night.
The win gives East Pennsboro the Mid-Penn Colonial Division title and a 9-1 record. Waynesboro finished the season at 2-8. The Tribe defeated the Panthers in two overtimes a year ago, 13-10 in Waynesboro.
The Indians once again struggled to gain traction on offense. That’s too bad because it has shown it can move the ball if it finds its rhythm. Call it youth, inexperience, lack of confidence, or strong competition – the opening drive provided a glimpse of what may have come when the Indians lost yardage on two of its first three plays and had to punt.
East Pennsboro had little trouble moving the ball, and the first play from scrimmage – a 30-yard run by Trey Good – served as a potential omen for the Tribe defense, which has given up a more-than-fair-share of chunk plays this season. Andrew Florek and Bryan “Tank” Benedict brought down Good to prevent a touchdown. Still, the Panthers, in the immortal words of the late Hank Stram, matriculated the ball to the Waynesboro 6-yard line before the drive stalled thanks to a batted pass by Parker Hull on third and goal.
Lovello Tatum kicked a field goal to give East Pennsboro a 3-0 lead.
Waynesboro couldn’t answer the bell on offense and punted it back to the Panthers. The Tribe defense held this time as East Pennsboro failed to convert on a fourth down at the Waynesboro 21.
Waynesboro’s sophomore quarterback Rayshawn Frazer-Hewitt completed a 9-yard pass to Nathan Nolan, and Benedict ran four yards for the team’s initial first down of the game. The Indians couldn’t get another first down and punted away.
It took East Pennsboro three plays to score a touchdown. The first two plays yielded 40 yards, and JJ Gossard ran the final three yards for the score and a 10-0 lead after the extra point.
The Indians got to midfield but punted. The Panthers went back to work, marching 83 yards in four plays. Braydon Duncan’s 53-yard scamper ended in the end zone, and just like that, East Pennsboro’s lead grew to 17-0.
It was 24-0 at halftime. The Indians went three-and-out and had to punt for the fifth time in the game. The Panthers ran off 10 plays and covered 45 yards and was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Keith Oates to Paul Sanderson with 2:38 to play in the first half.
The lead swelled to 31-0 early in the third quarter when Oates took it in the end zone from 11 yards. After another Waynesboro punt, the Panthers were on the prowl yet again. Their scoring drive covered 72 yards and was highlighted by a 43-yard run by Gossard. Terrell James scored on a 4-yard run with 3:12 remaining in the third quarter. The points activated the “mercy rule,” with a continuous clock for the rest of the game.
Yep, it’s been that kind of season for Waynesboro. A big blow came a little over two weeks ago when the Indians relinquished a 31-21 lead against Mechanicsburg and lost 35-31.
Whether the setback affected the team’s morale or not, the next two games were plain forgettable. The Tribe lost to Shippensburg, 27-0 and ended with another lopsided loss to East Pennsboro.
Waynesboro scored a pair of consolation touchdowns late in the game. Ethan Alldredge replaced Frazer-Hewitt at quarterback. Nolan carried the ball thrice for 11, 6 and 7 yards. After a 5-yard run by Hayden Bullard-Richards, Alldredge passed to tight end Ryan Martin for 18 yards and a first down at the East Pennsboro 6.
Alldredge lofted a nice fade pass to Calvin Myers for the touchdown and the two-point conversion was no good.
After East Pennsboro punted, Waynesboro started on offense at the Panthers’ 35. Alldredge had a nice gain of 18 yards on first down. Bullard-Richards ran for six yards, and following an incomplete pass, Nolan scored on an 11-yard run to end the scoring.
Waynesboro came close to scoring at the end of the second quarter. Fullback Anthony Ausherman bulled his way for 12 yards to the East Pennsboro 43 yard line. He picked up another 14 yards on a middle screen and a first down at the 11.
Frazer-Hewitt scrambled for seven yards to the four-yard. But a fourth-down pass failed and the half ended.
Yep, it’s been a trying season, but one that – hopefully – compels the returning players (and there are lots of them) to commit to being better next season by working out in the weight room in the off-season and participating in off-season activities in the spring and summer.
Perhaps the motivating factor this off-season is not returning to the syndrome of repeated losing seasons. The Indians endured losing seasons from 1994 to 2013 before finally finishing with a winning record (6-4) in 2014. Waynesboro strung together seven more non-losing regular seasons (the Tribe finished 5-6 in 2019 after a post-season loss at Manheim Central). The zenith was a 9-3 season in 2021 that included the team’s first-ever District 3 playoff win.
Waynesboro was 3-7 a year ago.