This game between Central Dauphin and Wilson at Landis Field, a 24-6 Rams victory, was all about defense and what happened in the trenches. And on both fronts, CD was the clear-cut winner.
“Tonight was a classic match-up of two programs that take pride in their defense. And I think that played itself out on the field,” CD coach Glen McNamee said. “Lot of credit to our guys for coming off the football, to a fault at times we have some penalties we need to clean up. We did a nice job defensively up front.”
And it certainly didn’t hurt the Rams’ cause to win the turnover battle 4-0. And that zero was just as important as the four.
Time to hand out some 4th Down Magazine grades.
Quarterback: The old saying goes if you use two quarterbacks it’s because you don’t have one. I think Wilson is searching for something by rotating juniors Connor Uhrig and Grayson Kline. Both are on a learning curve, that’s pretty clear. Combined the duo attempted 40 passes for 216 yards under heavy, heavy pressure. Those three picks hurt. They will get better, though. Don’t think they won’t.
Running Backs: To me it seems unfair to judge the caliber of player you have at this spot against the Rams’ front seven. I like what I see from Ignacion Reynoso. But how could you tell, really with only 20 yards?.
Wide Receivers: The Rams’ defense almost dares you to throw. So Wilson threw. No fewer than seven guys caught at least one pass. Justin Weller is the best route runner, but they are all pretty good. Collectively, I’d take them.
Offensive Line: There is a bit of rebuilding and adjusting going on up front for the Bulldogs. And it certainly looked that way. Then again, CD will make even a good line look average. The speed is what gave them the most fits.
Defensive Line: I didn’t think the Bulldogs up front generated a lot of push, but they showed some fight and didn’t surrender many open lanes. Overall, this bunch was above board but just barely.
Linebackers: Led by junior Trevor Hatlee, I’m a big fan of this group. I think come October and into November the Bulldogs LB’s are going to be tough. Big fan of the way they get the ball carrier to the ground. BIG FAN.
Defensive Backs: Coverage-wise they are okay, and really only got beat clean once or twice. Run support was average at best. There wasn’t enough help from them when linebackers were slowing things down. Give them credit, though, the edge in the running game was not open on those stretch plays.
Special Teams: They had an extra point, field goal and a punt blocked. Not much from the return game to balance that out a little.
Quarterback: If you were not paying attention there was a wind that had an affect on a couple deep throws by A.J. Millar. But he also did throw a couple ducks. The game plan did change when CD took the lead so he wasn’t called on much in the second half. Took care of the ball and made the safe, smart play when asked.
Running Backs: This is going to be RBBC (running back by committee) all season. Get used to it Rams fans. Micah Parsons will get some carries. Mike Wise-Belle and Dylan Weaver will each get some as well. And Millar runs. They DO NOT have that go-to back for sure. Gotta get better in the hole for sure.
Wide Receivers: I can see Frank Manus becoming a real go-to guy for CD in the passing game. Wasn’t called on much, but he runs a good route tree at this level. And he fights and digs for the ball. And NEVER forget about the TE. Always good for one big catch or two a game.
Offensive Line: Not that overpowering or super talented front you are accustomed to seeing at CD. But they get a lot out of what they have. Very strong on the initial push in the run game and to me this group was the hidden difference maker in the second half.
Defensive Line: Speed, power and strength. The most lethal combination in the book and the Rams have it all. Relentless and talented. Good Grief!!
Linebackers: It is clear CD wants these guys to be aggressive. But at times, they are too aggressive and get lost or blocked out of plays they can make. I’m all for cutting them loose. Still needs some refinement in terms of overall polish. Tackling is not up for debate, though.
Defensive Backs: Based on what’s in front of them, they are built to sit in that Cover Three and play smart. This group is much better at breaking on the ball than others in recent years. And they hawk the ball. Came up with a couple picks and knocked down several other passes.
Special Teams: I’m certain Ethan Van Buskirk is a good kicker. His PAT’s and that 26-yard field goal looked fluid and rock-solid. Not sure punting is his thing, but he punts. A blocked extra point, field goal and partially blocked punt mean once again the Rams’ special teams are indeed special.