Defenders kept from districts
DANVILLE — There was no question who the better team was on Friday. Danville dominated Warrior Run on both sides of the ball en route to a 63-6 win over Warrior Run but despite the loss, there seemed to be a tingle of optimism around the Defender program as it finished the regular season 4-6.
“I wanted to eclipse what we did last year (three wins) and we were able to do that. I would have hoped to perform a little better tonight but Danville is a good football team and they’re going to the playoffs for a reason,” said Warrior Run coach D.J. Flick. “They’re big up front and have a big back and we’re undersized so we rely more on skill than power so they were able to handle us up front.”
The Ironmen ran for 503 yards and both Trent Hilkert and Gannon Feldmann went over 1,000 yards each for the season. Feldmann ran for 200 yards and three touchdowns on just 11 carries while Hilkert went for 140 and a pair of scores on 15 carries, and also added a 59-yard interception return to give him three total touchdowns as well. Freshman Joey Harris had 121 yards and two touchdowns on just six second-half carries.
The loss keeps Warrior Run out of the District 4 Class AA playoffs, as the Defenders needed to win and get help to clinch a berth. However, Warrior Run still may have a shot at an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
“We got it taken to us tonight but if we’re able to play an Eastern Conference playoff game, that’s a huge accomplishment for our program,” said Flick. “I’m proud of our kids, they didn’t quit and as guys went down, others stepped up and I think that experience is going to help us in the future as well.”
Danville scored on eight of 10 possessions in the game, not counting kneel-downs at the end of each half. It punted just once and only a lost fumble into the end zone just before the ball crossed the goal line in the second quarter prevented it from scoring on nine of 10 drives. Feldmann had 167 of his 200 yards in the first half while Hilkert had 134 of his 140 in the opening half.
Defensively, the Ironmen held Warrior Run to just minus-four yards rushing on the evening, including minus-74 in the first half. The Defenders did have a solid night through the air, though, as Gage Anzulavich completed 14 of 29 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown, though he also threw two interceptions. Matt Gummo caught seven of those passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
“Gummo made some nice catches for us and Gage made some nice throws when the line was able to protect,” said Flick.
Feldmann gave the Ironmen an early boost with touchdown runs of 33 and 36 yards on Danville’s first two possessions. After the Ironmen went up 14-0, Warrior Run drove all the way to the Danville 2-yard line before turning it over on downs. From there, Danville further swung the momentum its way by going 98 yards in eight plays, capped by a Hilkert five-yard run. Feldmann had a 57-yard run during that drive, which was actually originally a 62-yard touchdown run that was called back due to a block in the back penalty.
“It’s nice to have a duo like that and I thought it was really neat that they both got 1,000 on the same night,” said Keiser, whose Ironmen will travel to Loyalsock next week for a District 4 Class 3A semifinal. “The kids did a real great job and came out focused offensively and defensively. We still have some things to work on in the secondary and we had a few too many penalties. With the way Loyalsock is playing football right now, we’ve got a heck of a job in front of us.”
Hilkert added a 29-yard touchdown run with just over two minutes left in the half to put Danville up four scores before Warrior Run got it’s only points of the game on a nice 18-yard touchdown pass from Anzulavich to Gummo with just 21 seconds left in the half.
Anzulavich was picked off on Warrior Run’s first two second half possessions. The first gave Danville good field position at the Defender 39 and it needed just three plays to go up 35-6 on Feldmann’s third touchdown run of the night. The next pick was Hilkert’s, who grabbed a tipped ball the went off two other players and ran it all the way back for a touchdown.