The Greyhounds use four big scoring plays to beat Trojans for second straight year.
By BILL ALBRIGHT
SHARON, Pa -- Although the venue was different, the opponent and the end result was much the same for the Wilmington Greyhounds in the District 10-AAA championship game Friday at Tiger Stadium.
One year ago, the Greyhounds scored late to defeat Greenville 16-7 and capture the title.
This time, the issue was settled much earlier as the Greyhounds scored early and often en route to a convincing 28-7 win.
Two weeks ago, the Greyhounds were defeated for the only time of the season by Reynolds, but they bounced back to record impressive back-to-back wins to win the district crown.
"You know, sometimes that happens," Wilmington coach Terry Verrelli said. "Getting miserable nights once in a while is a part of the game and those are difficult things to overcome.
"But I think the fact that these kids have been around winning programs and have been to the playoffs before was a big factor.
"Even though the Reynolds game was disappointing to them, they realized that [the undefeated season] wasn't their main goal and that the playoffs were coming up. I think they refocused a lot faster than they normally might have."
Wilmington used four big scoring plays of more than 20 yards each, and that didn't surprise Greenville coach Bob Stone.
"We knew coming into the game that we had to control their big plays," Stone said. "To Wilmington's credit, they have some talented kids who made big plays.
"But I was real proud of our kids in that they settled down and turned it into a respectable football game after it got off to such a bad start for us."
Score quickly for lead: The Greyhounds needed only two plays to put their first points on the board when Brandon Whiting scooted in from 43 yards out 37 seconds into the game.
Greenville came right back to answer with a 4-yard pass from Phil Mason to Travis Zuschlag three plays later following a 77-yard kickoff return by Jeff Ellis to the Greyhounds' 9-yard line.
The 7-all tie was short-lived, however, as the Greyhounds came back to score two more times in a matter of 49 seconds.
Whiting broke the tie when he hauled in a 38-yard scoring aerial from quarterback Tim Hughes.
Mistake cost Trojans: Following a Greenville turnover, it only took the Greyhounds two plays to make the Trojans pay for the mistake. Nick Sheehan hit Matt Krawchyk with a 32-yard scoring pass to make it 21-7 Wilmington with more than four minutes still left in the opening period.
"Greenville made a couple of mistakes and we were able to capitalize," Verrelli said. "When that happens, it makes it tough offensively for the other team.
"Greenville is a great team and they played a good game, but our kids just played a little better tonight."
Held to 65 yards: Wilmington's "Hammer" crew held the Trojans to just 65 total yards. The Greyhounds were piling up more than 300 yards of total offense.
"We struggled offensively for the past couple of weeks and what it comes down to is that Wilmington is a good football team and they played a good game against us tonight," Stone said.
With neither team seriously threatening through the second and third quarters, Wilmington put the icing on the cake four plays into the final frame when Sheehan tossed his second TD aerial of the night, a 24-yard effort to Brian Baer.
The Greyhounds improve to 10-1, while the loss ends Greenville's season at 7-4.
Wilmington will open state play Saturday afternoon when it travels to Pittsburgh and Cupples Stadium for a 1 p.m. meeting with city titlist Perry Traditional.
"We are going to be playing Pittsburgh Perry down there on their field," Verrelli said. "I haven't actually seen them play but they are obviously quite good, scoring like they are and having stopped people like they have been. But now that this one is over, we are ready to go at it."