MONTGOMERY - Muncy's Scott Appleman walked out of the Indians' locker room on Friday night with a limp while carrying his pads and helmet.
Appleman and his teammates expected the latest edition of the Old Shoe Trophy game to be another walk in the park and to come with few bumps and bruises - and why not? The trophy has been in possession of Muncy's hands since 2005 and his rivals had fallen on hard times, losing 17 consecutive games, including a pair of losses to start this season by a combined 81 points.
This Old Shoe Trophy game, however, had Montgomery fans chanting "We want the shoe," deep into the second half last night with a purpose. The Red Raiders were no walkthrough for the Indians Friday night.
Despite a lackluster effort, though, the Indians moved to 3-0 with a 19-6 victory to retain the upperhand in the series and keep the trophy in Muncy for another year.
"It's one of those games that maybe we were looking by and looking at Warrior Run and looking at Southern," Muncy coach Jay Drumheller said. "They were ready to play and we weren't. Bottom line is they are high school kids and you never know what they are thinking."
Muncy's night began by mishandling the opening kickoff out of bounds and fumbling the ball away on its second play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Montgomery's Kobe Galentine bulled his way into the end zone from 2 yards out and the Red Raiders (0-3, 0-2 HAC-III) had reason to believe the recent story of this rivalry had a chance to turn just 53 seconds into the game.
Instead of just a hiccup for the Muncy offense, the opening series turned into a preview of things to come. Montgomery kept turning away the Indians, forcing punts and holding Muncy on downs when the Indians did advance into Montgomery territory. Montgomery's one score lead held after one quarter and to the half, despite the Red Raiders' offense accumulated just two first downs - one by penalty and both on the same drive.
The Montgomery lead finally vanished in the early stages in the second half after Muncy forced a three-and-out and drove 80 yards for the go-ahead score. Dakota Nixon accounted for 55 yards on one run and eventually set up a quarterback sneak by backup quarterback Eli Warnick.
Montgomery's offense, which was limited to just 10 total yards, didn't a convert a first down in the second half. The Red Raiders attempted just six passes and completed two - both swing passes - for minus-3 yards.
Despite their inability to move the ball offensively, the Red Raiders were left with hope because of the play of Zach Woodcock and the defense. Woodcock, listed at 5-foot-8 and 146 pounds, played nose guard for the Red Raiders and consistently blew up plays in the backfield, at times not allowing Muncy quarterback Anthony Barberio time to hand the ball off. His effort was contagious.
"They came to play and they sold out," Drumheller said. "They were prepared and I give them all the credit in the world."
"Our defense played with intensity and everything we needed from them we got out of them," Montgomery coach Tom Persing said. "They gave us everything they have and we couldn't have asked for more.
"We're undersized everywhere we go, but I told them tonight they proved they can play with a bigger team physically."
Montgomery's defense, though, had very little room for error and finally succumbed to the Muncy offense by allowing a pair of Barberio to Ken Koch touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
The first Barberio to Koch connection went for 45 yards and came a series after the Indians had their first of two touchdowns called back because of penalties.
Koch's second TD reception came on a fourth-and-4 play from the 10 that gave the Indians a 19-6 lead with 1:41 to play. Barberio kept the drive alive earlier in the possession by avoiding a sack and finding Koch for an 18-yard reception on third-and-12 from the 49.
"Some people throw it away or get down or whatever, but when you have a quarterback that is big and strong, he's hard to bring down and he uses his size and athleticism," Drumheller said. "As much as a coach you tell him the thing you want him to do is maybe throw the ball away, he made a play - like Tebow style. That is all I can say."
Koch finished with 73 yards on three catches and Barberio overcame a tough night by finishing with 110 yards and two touchdowns despite completing 8 of 20 passes.
Nixon turned his 55-yard run into a 12 carry, 89-yard performance and Teddy Clark added 63 yards on six carries.
Appleman, who was needed deep into the fourth quarter, helped make one of the game's biggest stops. With Montgomery facing a fourth-and-1 from its own 47, Appleman rushed on the field and helped Muncy's defensive line hold the line of scrimmage and turn away a quarterback sneak attempt by Zack Shadle. Five minutes later, Muncy finally went up by two scores and could exhale for the first time.
The Indians face a similar situation next week when they travel to winless Warrior Run. Drumheller and his coaching staff put out the warning that next week's game could have harsher consequences should the Indians not learn their lesson from last night.
"We've learned not to overlook a team and play our hardest," Koch said, moments after mentioning Montgomery's 29-0 loss to Cowanesque Valley and Muncy's 43-13 win over the same team as a reason Muncy may have overlooked its rival.