LANCASTER - While the Lancaster defense remains consistently strong week in and week out, opponents of the Flying Arrow football team are finding out any one of Lancaster’s many offensive weapons could go off at any given moment.
Last Friday night in a WIAA Division 5 Level II playoff game against visiting Arcadia (7-3), it was senior fullback Trae Mezera who led the Arrows to a convincing 46-8 victory and a season record of 10-0.
Mezera rushed for 161 yards and four TDs on 20 attempts, averaging 8.1 yards per carry with a long of 54 yards.
Mezera did most of his damage in the second quarter, scoring three times, while senior halfback Troy Baker scored Lancaster’s first two touchdowns in the first quarter.
Lancaster’s second possession of the game started on Arcadia’s 19-yard line following a botched punt of seven yards by the Raiders on their own 12-yard line.
It took Lancaster just one play, a toss to Baker, to put points on the board, and with Hunter Budack’s extra-point kick, the Arrows had taken a 7-0 lead with 8:35 to play in the opening quarter.
With 5:44 to play in the first quarter, sophomore Brett Snider picked off an Arcadia pass, while defensive end Phil Zenz and linebacker Cody Glass applied pressure to the quarterback.
Lancaster’s scoring threat ended with 5:09 on the clock when Baker fumbled the ball at Arcadia’s 12-yard line.
Not to worry though, as Baker scored his second touchdown of the quarter on a three-yard TD plunge with 1.7 second showing on the clock.
The hold on the extra-point kick was mishandled, leaving Lancaster with a 13-0 advantage.
With 9:42 to play in the second quarter, the Lancaster defense held strong on a fourth-and-short from Lancaster’s 46-yard line.
On the Arrow’s next play, Arcadia was caught on a blitz up the middle, as Mezera ran between tackle and end for a 54-yard touchdown and a 19-0 lead. The two-point conversion pass failed for the Arrows.
After Arcadia had capitalized on blown pass coverage by the Arrows with a 51-yard touchdown pass, Lancaster took a 25-8 lead on a one-yard TD run by Mezera, that capped off a seven-play drive covering 68 yards.
With a 25-8 lead, and 4:31 to play in the second quarter, Lancaster’s Kile Jerrett came up with his first of two interceptions, setting Lancaster up with a first-and-10 from the 42-yard line of Arcadia.
It took seven plays to find the end zone, as Mezera scored his third TD of the quarter on a two-yard plunge with 1:46 to play in the half. Budack’s extra-point kick gave Lancaster a 32-8 halftime lead.
The Arrows put the finishing touches on the game in the third quarter with a 25-yard TD run by Mezera, and an 11-yard TD scamper by Brett Snider, as Budack made both extra-point kicks.
While the Lancaster offense was doing what it does best, the Flying Arrow defense was doing a job on Arcadia running back Paul Mines (6’1”, 215), who entered the game with 1,197 yards and 22 touchdowns.
By the time the game was over, Mines was held to 56 yards on 20 carries, leaving him with an average of just 2.8 yards per carry.
“I think our defense just came to play,” said coach Hoch. “They were challenged because he tore us up pretty much last year, and so I think there was some internal motivation.”
“Our defense has not allowed too many people to get out on us this year at all,” Hoch added.
Especially tough on the defensive side was senior linebacker Cody Glass, who spent a lot of time in Arcadia’s backfield on blitzes.
Glass led the defensive unit with seven total tackles, one going for a loss.
“He was timing up some blitzes and getting through there,” Hoch said of Glass. “It was kind of nice to see it work.”
Sophomore safety Andy Ryan finished the game with 5.5 tackles, while Kile Jerrett and Connor Flynn each had four. Jerrett also had two interceptions, while Aaron Mahr had the team’s only sack.
While the Raiders were limited to 191 yards of total offense, Lancaster finished with 442, 323 of which came from their rushing attack.
Following Mezera’s 161-yard performance was Brett Snider, who rushed for 57 yards and a TD on six carries.
Quarterback A.J. Day rushed for 45 yards on six carries, while Baker had 30 yards on seven attempts.
Day also completed 4-of-10 passing attempts for 119 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Jerrett hauled in two passes, one for 25 yards, the other for eight. Baker had one catch for 48 yards, and Budack had the other for a gain of 38.
Much of the team’s offensive production can be credited to Lancaster’s offensive line, which allowed the Arrows to average 6.7 yards per rushing attempt.
“Overall, the line did pretty good,” said Hoch. “Honestly we need to play a lot better if we’re going to continue to play in the playoffs.”
“They opened up holes. Our line did a good job that way, but it wasn’t as consistent as it needs to be.”
Next up is a Level III playoff game against visiting Durand, who brings with them a matching record of 10-0, as well as a familiar face for coach Hoch, who had his career playoff record improved to 54-15.
Hoch, a 1976 graduate of Durand High School, has a nephew playing for the Panthers, junior offensive lineman Tyler Hoch (#59).
Quarterback Jake Weber (#11) is not only team’s top passer, but also the team’s top rusher.
Weber has completed 34-of-52 passing attempts for 569 yards, six TDs and one interception.
His top target is no doubt Drew Minturn (#82) who has 23 receptions on the year for 439 yards and six TDs.
Weber has also rushed for 1,016 yards and 10 TDs on 185 attempts for an average of 5.5 yards per attempt, while Jacob Biesterveld (#22) had 612 rushing yards and nine TDs on 88 carries.
Three other backs have at least 28 carries and a total of 10 touchdowns between them.
“They are big and physical,” said Hoch of Durand. “They run a single wing, which is something we don’t usually see. Defensively they go to the ball real well.”
“The thing is, if we can weather the storm right away because they play eight or nine guys both ways. If we can wear them out a little bit and may be take advantage of that and get some things happening.”
Game time is set for this Saturday at 2 p.m. with a trip to the state semifinals on the line.
Lancaster 46, Arcadia 8
(WIAA D5 level 2 playoff game from Friday, Oct. 26, at Lancaster)
Arcadia 0 8 0 0 - 8
Lancaster 13 19 14 0 - 46
L - Troy Baker, 19-yard run (Hunter Budack kick)
L - Baker, 3-yard run (kick failed)
L - Trae Mezera, 54-yard run (kick failed)
A - A. Ferguson, 51-yard pass from S. Ferguson (S. Ferguson run)
L - Mezera, 1-yard run (kick failed)
L - Mezera, 2-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Mezera, 25-yard run (Budack kick)
L - Brett Snider, 11-yard run (Budack kick)
First downs - A 7, L 14. Rushing - A 30-70, L 48-323. Passing yards - A 121, L 119. Passes - A 10-22-3, L 4-11-0. Fumbles-lost - A 5-2, L 2-2. Penalties-yards - A 5-36, L 7-45.
Rushing - A: Paul Mines 20-56, Dalton White 2-11; L: Trae Mezera 20-161, Brett Snider 6-57, A.J. Day 6-45, Troy Baker 7-30. Passing - A: Ferguson 9-20-2, 116; L: A.J. Day 4-10-0, 119. Receiving - A: Ferguson 3-72; L: Kile Jerrett 2-33.