In 1st game back after injury, Potts helps lift Williamsport

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette Williamsport’s Treyson Potts runs with the ball against Central Mountain at Williamsport on Friday night.

Treyson Potts spent the last year envisioning his high school football return. So did all those affiliated with the Williamsport football program.

Turns out the actual return far surpassed any wonderful expectations Potts, teammates and coaches felt building up. And now that Potts is back a year after missing the season with a torn ACL, an already explosive offense looks downright scary.

Potts ran for 150 yards and five touchdowns on just nine carries, Joe Fagnano threw for 250 yards, Marcus Simmons caught a long touchdown and Williamsport’s starting offense scored on all eight first-half possessions as the Millionaires routed visiting Central Mountain, 62-26 Friday on opening night. Williamsport looked more like a video-game offense as the starters scored a program-record 62 first-half points, needing only 8 minutes, 16 seconds and 29 plays to inflict all that damage.

“When it happened it was not what I envisioned. It was crazy being out here with my team and just doing the thing that I know how to do best. It was a great feeling all-around,” Potts said. “A lot of guys don’t know what it feels like to have their love taken away from them for a year. Just being out here on special teams, offense, defense, I’m going hard every time.”

That attitude permeated throughout the preseason and Williamsport’s offense delivered a virtuoso performance. The starters played just the first half, but totaled 452 yards and averaged 15.6 yards per play. The Millionaires scored every time they touched the ball and the longest drive during that span took just 2:33. Five drives lasted a minute or less and the average scoring series took 1:08.

Fagnano (10 of 12, 250 yards) actually was the running star early, doing his best Potts impersonation and opening the scoring with a 31-yard touchdown run in which he broke four tackles. Fagnano ran for a 6-yard score on the next drive, but Potts soon took center stage, scoring touchdowns on five of Williamsport’s next six possessions. His second touchdown, a 59-yard run, was the quintessential Potts run, one that made him a 2016 all-state selection. He exploded through a hole, bounced off a tackler, broke a few more tackles and made defenders look like they were running in slow motion as he broke away down the left sideline.

Despite missing last season, Potts went over both 4,000 career yards and 50 touchdowns.

“It goes to show that I did the things that I needed to do in rehab and off the field,” Potts said. “It was great to show that I could do what I did before I got injured. It was a little wake-up call for everybody.”

Potts also scored on a 33-yard touchdown, again showing his explosive burst and that one made it 62-20 at halftime. What makes this offense so dangerous, though, is how well-rounded it is. Fagnano and Simmons (4 catches, 151 yards) had two of the best seasons in program history at their respective positions last fall, so Williamsport is equally potent through the air. Simmons turned two short passes into 131 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown late in the second quarter. Collin Esposito caught a 42-yard pass and both Brock Moyer and Nassir Jones showed promising play-making ability as well.

Stack the box to try and take away Potts and Williamsport can light it up through the air. Try and double Simmons or flood the secondary and Potts can run wild. No wonder Williamsport is so excited.

“A lot of offenses can’t do what we do,” Jones said. “They have to pick their poison. I doubt they’re going to shut Trey down, but we have other people that will sell out, too.”

“That’s what these young men bring to the table. It’s fortunate we as a staff have these young men to work with. I wouldn’t want to game plan to try and stop us,” Williamsport coach Chuck Crews said. “What you don’t see is the selfish stuff. Everybody had their chance, had their moment. It brings upon that competitive nature that when you get a chance to shine and you get that ball in your hand you have to go.”

Central Mountain can go, too. The Wildcats displayed impressive firepower themselves and a young team looks like it can be quite dangerous as the season progresses. Central Mountain did its best to trade blows throughout the first half and stopped itself more than Williamsport did. The Wildcats turned the ball over three times in the first half with Jones returning a fumble 39 yards to set up a score and Chase Nye returning a fumble 50 yards for a touchdown that made it 27-6 less than 10 minutes into the game.

When Central Mountain did not turn the ball over, it gouged Williamsport. Quarterback Zane Probst (13 of 22, 273 yards) hit Collin Jones with three touchdown passes and Rocco Stark ran for 95 yards. Jones, a 6-foot-4 senior, twice burned Williamsport for long touchdowns. He caught 73 and 66 yarders while adding an 8-yard jump ball touchdown on a 4th-and-goal.

Central Mountain piled up the yards and the teams combined for 846 first-half yards, as well as 28 first-half downs. As good as the Wildcats looked at times, they simply could not keep up as Williamsport scored 35 second-quarter points.

The biggest question surrounding Williamsport’s offense entering this season revolved around its new-look offensive line featuring four new starters. Early returns were impressive as Tucker Kreisher, Jason Kelley, Ian Welshans, Beau Smith and Ethan Williamson dominated the line of scrimmage. If that line continues jelling and surging, this offense could do some special things.

“You figure for the amount of time and touches that we had the ball, the numbers that we amassed and accumulated, that all starts up front,” Crews said. “All the (skill guys) had good individual efforts. But those five (linemen) together, when they work well together, it’s poetry in motion.

Although Williamsport’s defense struggled at times, there were some nice bright spots. Jones looks like a potential star and the sophomore defensive end forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, made three tackles for loss and had five quarterback hurries. Sophomore linebacker Malik Jones and defensive tackle Blaze McClements combined for 10 tackles, Dominic Birch added a sack and Nye lived a defender’s dream when he scooped up a first-quarter lateral and went 35 yards for a touchdown.

“It’s an exciting time for Millionaire football,” Crews said. “I can’t praise the coaching staff enough from the middle school on up. We are developing Williamsport football and if we continue to keep our talent, develop it and grow it it can keep getting stronger. If we can combine our youth leagues and get that together we can be a true force here in the middle of the state for years to come.”

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