’Canes falter in season opener
New Castle (6) vs. Central Valley (29)
Written: Aug 31, 2013
By Joe Sager
New Castle News
CENTER TOWNSHIP — With New Castle’s elite talent, explosive playmaking was expected to be a strength this year.
It still may be, but it sure wasn’t last night.
The Red Hurricane fizzled in a 29-6 loss to Central Valley at Sarge Alberts Stadium in the WPIAL Class AAA Parkway Conference opener.
New Castle struggled to find much offensive rhythm. The Warriors had a big hand in that.
The hosts limited the ’Canes to 122 total yards and did not yield any huge plays. Perhaps Central Valley’s biggest statement came with 1:44 left in the third quarter with a 16-6 lead. The Warriors fumbled deep in their own territory and New Castle’s Cherokee Conti recovered it at the 3. However, the hosts stuffed the ’Canes on four plays to seize the ball and momentum.
“I think we played well all game defensively,” Central Valley coach Mark Lyons said. “We gave them a short field with a costly turnover. They have a lot of athletes and sooner or later, something is going to break with those athletes. I tell you what, our guys gut-checked this thing up front. They played every down.”
Following the stop, the Warriors responded with a 98-yard drive capped by JaQuan Pennington’s 14-yard touchdown run with 6:32 left in the game. It boosted the team’s advantage to 23-6.
“That’s character; that’s winning it up front; that’s guys understanding their role and what needed to be done,” Lyons said. “It’s early in the year, but you have to find ways to win football games in this conference. There are many ways to win it and we have to keep finding ways to do it.”
Central Valley’s defensive stand and subsequent touchdown were too much for New Castle to overcome.
“It’s incredibly demoralizing, there’s no question about it. Winning football teams capitalize on the opportunities. We created our own destiny. We had a chance to get back in it and throw our best punch. At that time, great football teams step up,” New Castle coach Joe Cowart said. “That’s a good football team over there. They said they were going to run the ball and just see if we could stop them and we weren’t able to step up and do it. We’re disappointed in that turn of events, but there were a lot of football plays out there that were missed opportunities. That wasn’t the only sequence of events that hurt us. We left a lot of big plays on the field. We’ll correct our mistakes and we will certainly get better from the events of tonight.”
Central Valley scored on its third play from scrimmage as Jordan Whitehead bolted untouched for a 40-yard TD run. The high-profile junior added another scoring run to put the hosts ahead, 14-0, at halftime.
Despite its struggles, New Castle remained in the game until that third CV touchdown. The ’Canes didn’t help themselves much, either, in their comeback attempt. They committed 14 penalties for 80 yards and almost all of them came of the offensive side.
“We are what we are — we’re an undisciplined football team right now, there’s no question,” Cowart said. “Most of those penalties are pre-snap penalties. We didn’t have a ton of holds or personal fouls or those types of things. We had a couple in there, but they were offsides, illegal motions and illegal formations. We have to play smarter and more physical and we have to flat out get better. Good football teams will learn from the mistakes and get better. And, there is no doubt in my mind we’re a good football team.”
Humidity was high last night and it seemed to affect the Warriors the most. Whitehead missed all but one play of the second half with apparent leg cramps and several other players had to be helped off the field as well. Pennington fought through cramping to pace Central Valley. He finished with 97 yards on 21 carries.
“I don’t know; it was just cramps. I wish I had the answer — I’d be a millionaire,” Lyons said. “We’re about depth, though. We tell our young guys they have to be ready to step on the field at any time.”
Malik Hooker had New Castle’s only touchdown. He leaped to haul in Julian Cox’s 9-yard pass to trim the deficit to 16-6 early in the third. However, Hooker was stopped on a wildcat run at the 2 during the Warriors’ key defensive stand late in the third quarter.
The ’Canes remain winless against Central Valley in its four years of existence after the merger of Center and Monaca high schools.
NEW CASTLE C. VALLEY
9 First downs 18
62 Yards Rushing 243
33 Yards Lost 15
29 Net Rushing 228
25 Passes Attempted 14
11 Passes Completed 8
3 Passes Intercepted 0
93 Yards Passing 46
122 Total Yards 274
1-0 Fumbles-Lost 2-1
5-34.5 Punts-Average 5-35.8
14-80 Penalties-Yards 6-55
WILMINGTON 7 7 7 7 — 28
W. MIDDLESEX 0 10 0 0 — 10
CENTRAL VALLEY — Jordan Whitehead, 40-yard run (Brady Churovia kick).
CENTRAL VALLEY — Whitehead, 2-yard run (Churovia kick).
CENTRAL VALLEY — Safety, New Castle recovered its own fumble in end zone.
NEW CASTLE — Malik Hooker, 9-yard pass from Julian Cox (pass failed).
CENTRAL VALLEY — JaQuan Pennington, 14-yard run (Churovia kick).
CENTRAL VALLEY — Pennington, 14-yard pass from Nate Climo (kick failed).