If one had heard the head coaches speak following Friday's season opener between Warrior Run and Montoursville without seeing the game itself, one would likely not have guessed that Montoursville came out with the win, 34-7 over the Defenders.
Despite accumulating over 400 yards of total offense and outgaining Warrior Run by over 300 yards, Montoursville coach J.C. Keefer thought his team was a bit too sloppy in the win, while Warrior Run coach Mark Burrows thought his team improved tremendously over its final scrimmage of the year last week.
"From last Friday to this Friday, believe it or not, we got better," said Warrior Run coach Mark Burrows. "We're mixing and matching kids, we've got a great group of kids, we have no superstars and we're playing young kids, which every team goes through. The score to me is not indicative of how the game went. A couple of tackles here, a couple of penalties there and I think it's a different game."
"We were sloppy and had too many penalties (10 for 90 yards) and too many turnovers (2 lost fumbles). I'm pleased with the way our offensive line played early but they're still not quite there yet," said Keefer. "If I was to describe tonight's game, it would be sloppy, but we'll take it (the win) in Week 1. We have a lot to improve on and I'm sure most schools at this time are going to be fairly sloppy."
With several players playing out of position or new positions, the Warrior Run offense particularly struggled in protecting quarterback Garrett Moser, who was sacked seven times, including six in the first half. Those sacks helped account for Warrior Run only running for 95 yards as the Defenders were outgained on the ground by Montoursville by over 200 yards. Moser had a decent game passing, completing two-thirds of his passes, but they only produced 67 yards.
"We have tight ends playing guard, we have running backs playing guard and we're very thin up front," explained Burrows about his offensive line. "We knew that coming in and some of the kids we had playing up there tonight, it was their first time playing as a lineman."
"The last few years our defense has been the staple of our program," said Keefer. "I was pretty pleased with them but we still made some mistakes on that side of the ball as well and need to get better there but we have swarming defense and that's the way we like it."
The Defenders had two early chances in the first quarter as they gained control of two Montoursville fumbles, one deep in their own territory and one on a muffed punt near midfield. They went three-and-out after both fumbles, however, and Montoursville meanwhile sandwiched a pair of scores around its two fumbles, with Cameron Ott hauling in a 7-yard pass from Aaron Cole on the Warriors' first drive and Clay Stoner ripping off a 56-yard run late in the quarter following Montoursville's two fumbles.
Warrior Run gained possession at the Montoursville 32-yard line after drawing a roughing the kicker penalty against Montoursville midway through the second quarter but a pair of sacks pushed the Defenders out of even just field goal range and Montoursville took the ensuing possession and after Stoner ripped off another 56-yard run, Ott scored his second touchdown of the night on a 13-yard run to put the Warriors up by three touchdowns. The Warriors then put up a late second-quarter touchdown as Ott found the end zone for the third time on the evening to give Montoursville a 27-0 halftime lead.
The Warriors went up 34-0 with a score on their first possession of the third quarter before pulling many of their starters. From that point, both team put together long, time-consuming drives for the remainder of the game, with Warrior Run committing three penalties on its next drive while having a touchdown called back, and Montoursville driving all the way into the red zone before having its drive stalled. From that point, the Defenders averted the shutout by putting together a drive of over six-and-a-half minutes, capped by Derek Keiser's four-yard touchdown run.