For a first-time Lancaster-Lebanon squad playing one of the most tradition rich big-school programs, the Blue Streaks performed exceptionally well.
That’s what Cumberland Valley demands to walk away with a District 3 Class 6A trophy.
Township stayed patient under intense pressure from the Eagles, and the Blue Streaks offense was a machine in the second half despite several big-play haymakers landed by the Eagles.
Sticking to its game plan of running the ball and mixing in quarterback Luke Emge’s dead-eye passing, Manheim Township subdued the Eagles 24-21 Saturday night to claim championship No. 1 in program history.
“They did a good job of running the ball against us,” Cumberland Valley head coach Michael Whitehead Jr. said. “They are very multi-dimensional. They are powerful in the running game, then spread you out and throw it. They controlled the tempo.”
Watching Cumberland Valley play from behind all game was very unusual. But with a Penn State recruit like Charlie Katshir on the field for the final time in his career, no Manheim Township lead was safe.
Eagles quarterback Jared Plessinger kept lofting up well-thrown deep balls against one-on-one coverage. And Katshir went up and hauled them in, finishing with seven grabs for 157 yards and a touchdown.
This game was a tight fit all the way. Mistakes were magnified, and the Eagles had one more turnover than the Blue Streaks and that played a role in the outcome.
Yeah, it was that close.
“Give it to them, they are a really good team,” Katshir said. “They came out and hit us first and took control of the game.”
Cumberland Valley, an extremely good team playing from in front, never led.
And its defense was on the field forever in the second half. And with possessions limited for the Eagles, the Blue Streaks were able to maintain the upper hand.
Manheim Township ran twice as many plays as Cumberland Valley (40-20) in the second half and stuck to its game plan of primarily running the ball.
“We stayed patient. We missed a field goal and threw an interception but there was no panic,” said Blue Streaks head coach Mark Evans, who club was 4-for-4 on fourth down. “Hats off to CV they are a very good team. Against a good football team you can’t panic.”
Powered by senior running back Grayson Sallade’s 110 yards on 27 carries, the Blue Streaks ran the ball 43 times. The Eagles, because they were playing from behind all game, ran it only 28 times.
The Eagles defense allowed only 3.0 yards per carry, but could not get a key stop on third or fourth down the second half to get off the field.
“Our No. 1 priority coming in was to stop the run, obviously,” Whitehead said. “Our defense battled, but we didn’t do as good a job as we wanted stopping the run. Sometimes you just get beat. We didn’t play bad at all. They were the better team today.”