BLOOMSBURG-A year ago, Matt Boone played quarterback in a wide-open Montgomery offense, putting up big numbers and averaging 26 passes per game. He now plays in a South Williamsport run-oriented offense, throwing 18 fewer passes per game.
Unlike last season, Boone's team is winning every game. It is a trade the junior quarterback is loving.
Boone continued settling in as South's quarterback and played his best game yet Saturday, completing 7 of 11 passes for 141 yards as South stomped CMVT, 41-12, and improved to 3-0. The Mounties led 41-0 at halftime as Dominick Bragalone added 144 yards and three touchdowns before mostly JV athletes played the entire second half.
"It's great to work with a group of guys like this who give it everything they have and we can go out and get those wins," Boone said. "We have a great group of athletes."
Boone threw for 1,327 yards last year, the second-highest total in Montgomery history but was part of an undermanned team that finished 0-10. His family moved to South Williamsport last spring and Boone earned the starting job through hard work. Some at Montgomery believed Boone earned the job last year because his dad, Randy, was the head coach, a notion he proved wrong every week.
He proved it again yesterday.
"Me and Matt were working a lot all summer and it seems like it's starting to click now," said wide receiver Riley Hengler who caught three passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. "He didn't miss a workout all summer. He's definitely gotten comfortable with the system and is doing a good job back there."
South came out throwing, attempting passes on six of its first seven plays. Boone opened the game by finding Jon Pulizzi for a 25-yard completion and hit Riley Thomas in stride with a 26-yard touchdown pass on South's next possession. That was part of a three-play sequence in which South scored every time, John Peters and Bragalone book-ending it with touchdown runs.
Boone hit five different receivers in the first half, moved well in the pocket and threw well on the run. The Mounties led 27-0 after one quarter and 41-0 at halftime, scoring on all six possessions.
South has thrown the ball more the last two weeks and Boone has three touchdown passes during that time. He has had to adjust to a new system, but is hitting his stride. So are all the Mountie receivers, especially Hengler who continued building on a strong senior season and made a nice catch on his touchdown.
"They were very happy to have me over here. They pretty much treat me like any other teammate that's been here from Day 1 and I thank them every day for that," Boone said. "We have a lot of talent. We have four or five different receivers we can get involved at any time during a game and we feel comfortable with any of them."
"That's probably the best thing for us if we can make it more than just me catching the ball and open up things even more," Hengler said. "That will open up the running game more than it already is."
That is a scary thought considering how good the running game has been. Bragalone topped 100 yards by early in the second quarter and now leads all District 4 rushers with 658 yards and 10 touchdowns. He scored on runs of 6, 20 and 35 yards, doing so on the last one untouched as a strong offensive line again controlled the line of scrimmage.
"The guys came out and moved the ball extremely well and caught the ball well," South coach Chris Eiswerth said. "Our guys controlled the line of scrimmage like we thought they would so that was nice."
South had a pizza party Friday night, trying to keep the players in a routine so they would remain sharp for an early afternoon game. It worked.
Linebackers Rocco Bausinger and Sean McCormick combined for 17 tackles while sparking a defense that allowed just 15 first-half yards. Linebacker Ryan Seagrave made a big first-quarter play, intercepting a pass and returning it 50 yards to the 6-yard line. A play later, Bragalone scored his first touchdown and South opened a 21-0 lead.
The only bad news for South was losing standout lineman Sam Buck to a first-quarter knee injury. Buck, one of the team leaders, is having a big year and will be evaluated Monday to determine his status moving forward.
"His ability and work ethic are outstanding," Eiswerth said. "You hate to see that. He is a big kid to have part of the program."
South travels to Southern Columbia Friday for a rematch of last year's District 4 Class A championship. Southern is the only team that has defeated South since Week 9 of 2011.
"We're where we want to be going into the game," Hengler said. "We'll have a good week of practice and hope for the best. We've been waiting for this all year."
South27 14 0 0-41
CMVT0 0 6 6-12
S-John Peters 2 run (Brett Garbrick kick), 8:56
S-Riley Thomas 26 pass from Matt Boone (Garbrick kick), 6:35
S-Dominick Bragalone 6 run (Garbrick kick), 5:27
S-Bragalone 20 run (pass failed), 0:00
S-Riley Hengler 17 pass from Boone (Garbrick kick), 5:55
S-Bragalone 35 run (Garbrick kick), 3:29
C-Chris Zanolini 3 run (run failed), 9:08
C-Tristan Starr 30-yard interception return (run failed), 11:46
TEAM STATISTICSS C
First downs17 4
Passing Yards152 2
RUSHING: South, Dominick Bragalone 12-144, 3 TDs; Nate Koletar 8-23; John Peters 3-17, TD; Matt Boone 1-11; Aaron Orgitano 2-3; Keenen Holloway 3-1. CMVT, Chris Zanolini 23-106, TD; Tristan Starr 6-18; Nick Kocan 2-9.
PASSING: South, Boone 7-11-0, 2 TDs, 145 yards; Kyle Betz 1-4-1, 7 yards. CMVT, Dylan Larkin 2-5-1, 2 yards.
RECEIVING: South, Riley Hengler 3-51, TD; Tyler Schonewolf 1-30; Riley Thomas 1-26, TD; Jon Pulizzi 1-25 Peters 1-9; Holloway 1-7. CMVT, Colton Appleman 2-2.
INTERCEPTIONS: South, Ryan Seagrave. CMVT, Starr.
RECORDS: South 3-0. CMVT 0-3.