COAL TOWNSHIP — Although changing the culture of a football program isn’t necessarily something that happens overnight, with each passing week, it appears that Shamokin’s football culture is rapidly changing for the better.
One week after falling to North Schuylkill in a game in which the Spartans dominated the Indians on both lines of scrimmage, Shamokin turned the tables on Central Mountain, as the Indians asserted themselves on the lines and bounced back from last week’s disappointing loss with a dominating 35-6 win over the Wildcats. The win marks the earliest in a season that Shamokin has won its second game since 2014, when it started the year 2-0.
“The kids responded well after a tough loss last week. They could have folded, but that just goes to show the resiliency of this year and the attitude and culture that we’ve developed here,” said Shamokin coach Henry Hynoski. “I couldn’t be happier with the effort they gave. They played four quarters 100 percent from snap to whistle.”
Shamokin’s dominance up front, both offensively and defensively, was evident in the final stats. Shamokin compiled 225 yards on the ground, including 129 by Brycen James (on just 13 carries), who had 220 all-purpose yards as he also added two long kickoff returns. Defensively, the Indians held the Wildcats to just 61 rushing yards and 199 total, while also recording three sacks and forcing a pair of turnovers. Collin Bowers threw for a touchdown and returned an interception on defense for another.
“We knew Shamokin was better, coach Hynoski has them playing harder and they were most physical than us in the first half and that’s what I preached to them at halftime,” said Central Mountain coach James Renninger. “I can live with making mistakes and getting beat physically one-on-one, but not with giving great effort and we didn’t in the first half.”
It was a close game until about a three-minute stretch late in the first half in which a slim 7-0 Shamokin lead ballooned into a 28-0 advantage by halftime. Shamokin was helped by two Wildcat turnovers deep in their own territory. Leading 7-0 after a 75-yard touchdown run by Brycen with 10:51 left in the second quarter, Shamokin took its next possession beginning at its own 7-yard line following a Central Mountain punt and an illegal block on the Indians. From there, Shamokin went 93 yards in 11 plays, including a pair of third-down conversions, and took a two-score lead on Max Madden’s 27-yard touchdown run. Madden finished with 60 yards on 11 carries.
On the first play from scrimmage on Central Mountain’s ensuing possession, Zane Probst was sacked at his own 15 and fumbled. It was recovered by Shamokin. Three plays later Bowers hit Matt Schiccatano in the corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown reception to put the Indians up 21-0.
Central Mountain punted on its next possession, and then Shamokin faked a punt on fourth and 10 on the Wildcats 42, but was stopped a yard shy of the first-down marker, giving the ball back to the Wildcats at their own 33 with just :33 left in the half.
The first play from scrimmage once again proved to be unkind to the Wildcats. Probst was picked off by Bowers, who returned it 47 yards for a touchdown to give the Indians a four-score advantage.
Although the Wildcats held the ball for over 16 minutes in the second half compared to less than eight for Shamokin, it did not equal any other advantage other than time of possession, as the Wildcats had a 17-play drive that lasted over eight minutes only to stall at the Shamokin 29.
“Our defense was fantastic tonight with a couple of fourth-down stops and the pass coverage overall was excellent and our run defense was also good,” said Hynoski. “It was just a great job all around by our players and coaches.”
Shamokin scored another touchdown on its ensuing possession midway through the fourth quarter to put the mercy rule into effect before Central Mountain scored its only points of the game on a 7-yard touchdown run by Probst with 3:38 remaining.