MIFFLINBURG - J.C. Keefer has a problem with his Montoursville offense, especially after watching what the Warriors did to Mifflinburg in Friday night's 52-21 win. But it's a good problem.
He almost has too many weapons to choose from now that he's got a team which is as healthy as it's been all year. The problem the Warriors' second-year head coach faces is making sure he doesn't try to out-think himself and get too cute in his play-calling.
He found the perfect balance last night as the Warriors exploded for more than 500 yards of offense. Matt Krezmer rushed for a season-high 166 yards, Clay Stoner eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season with a 125-yard effort, and quarterback Aaron Cole threw for 206 yards. It was a dominant performance from a Montoursville team which has rebounded from consecutive tough losses to pick up wins in back-to-back weeks.
"We're pretty confident with what we've doing offensively," Keefer said. "We're getting up there, firing out, running the ball and hitting play-action passes. We're getting into a rhythm. We have some options now."
The options the Warriors have are as dangerous as any team in District 4, and just two weeks away from potentially the most competitive and wide-open district playoff in the state, the combination of all those weapons couldn't have come together at a better time.
Krezmer, who has been a short-yardage option for two years now had just 117 rushing yards for the entire season going into last night's game. With the loss of backup fullback Ethan Jones to a knee injury, and Stoner battling a back injury for much of the year, there just hasn't been a viable option to give Krezmer a blocking back to utilize his skill-set more effectively.
Stoner has finally in recent weeks begun to feel better to where he has no problem getting out in front of Krezmer in their split-backs set and throwing blocks on the edge. The Warriors went to that option early and often Friday night, especially after Krezmer gained 33 yards rushing on just three carries on Montoursville's first drive. Mifflinburg didn't find an answer for the off-tackle carries by Krezmer until it was too late.
The 6-foot, 212-pound fullback had runs of 14, 14, 49, 29 and 27 yards in the first half. His 29-yard carry midway through the second quarter gave him 118 rushing yards for the game, eclipsing his season total. He finished the first half with 151 yards.
"We knew that our line's been doing really well and we could just keep running it and running it," Krezmer said. "Clay was blocking really well, he just did awesome tonight."
On Montoursville's first drive of the night, Krezmer had 33 rushing yards to go along with 22 receiving yards he capped off the drive with a 3-yard touchdown reception from Cole. His 49-yard run on the last play of the second quarter put Cole in position for his second touchdown pass of the night, this one a 24-yard strike to Cam Karschner on a fourth-down post pattern. Krezmer then had his runs of 29 and 27 yards on back-to-back plays to set up Stoner for a 9-yard scoring run.
And just for added emphasis on his career night, he was left wide open on a wheel route in the third quarter which he caught and made two cuts toward the middle of the field to turn the play into a 50-yard touchdown pass. He finished with three receptions for 72 yards and the pair of touchdowns.
"He was tremendous," Warriors tight end and defensive end Garrett Evans said. "It's just someone else we can rely on. He's a go-to guy."
"The way it's played out is we always wanted to get Matt involved, just with certain injuries and the way things fell it hasn't happened," Keefer said. "Now with guys starting to feel better, we're able to get Matt involved."
All Krezmer's running only opened up space for both Cole and Stoner. Cole threw three touchdowns for the second consecutive week, and his 206 passing yards were a career high. Mifflinburg's safeties began to get sucked in on play-action passes and Cole often found his receivers wide open for easy big gains. Five of his 10 completions went for 19 yards or more.
The Warriors added a little change-up to the offense in the second half, recognizing Mifflinburg was likely going to key on slowing down Krezmer, they put Stoner in at fullback and allowed his quickness to break big runs on dive plays. He had a 39-yard touchdown run from that fullback spot on the third play of the third quarter in which he was sprung free on a vicious block from Karschner.
"I was making long runs and getting caught at the end, and we knew he was faster than me and he could break those long runs and score," Krezmer said. "And we wanted to get him his 1,000 yards tonight and it was awesome that he got it."
Montoursville's offense was so efficient last night (8.6 yards per play) that backup quarterback Griffin Dunne who is just a month removed from a 200-yard rushing day against Mount Carmel, didn't take a snap at quarterback. And that's where Keefer's patience to stick with what's working and not get too cute in play-calling was most evident.
"If it's working for you, don't overthink yourself and stick with it," Keefer said. "These kids aren't selfish. I'm not trying to say, 'Oh no, Matt's mad because he's not getting the ball, or Griffin are you sad because you're not in there?' That's not how we do it. These kids just want to win. And whatever the defense gives us, we're going to take."