By Andy Shay:
If the early numbers crunching in the District 3 Class 5A playoff field is correct, it appears undefeated Mechanicsburg will be on the outside looking in during this strange 2020 football season. That won’t be official until after the October 26 deadline.
What the Wildcats have is a dangerous 1-2 punch of an explosive offense that can be a powder keg at any moment and a defense that is fast and creates pressure on an offense to operate at an uncomfortable pace.
Waynesboro’s defense did a good job Friday night and the Indians really still had no say in the outcome of this 35-7 Colonial Division win for Mechanicsburg. The Wildcats defense set the tone, produced four turnovers, 10 negative plays, scored a touchdown and limited the visitors to 130 total yards on 55 snaps.
Time to hand out some grades.
Quarterback: Chance Eyler literally had no chance on this night (apologies for the bad pun). He was under some serious heat almost every time he dropped back to throw. The only way to have any shot was to get the ball out way quicker than he’s used to and that had an impact on his accuracy. He did throw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, the first TD through the air Mechanicsburg has allowed in 2021. He had a rough night, but it wasn’t a fair fight. Grade: C
Running Back: Mikel Holden ran hard and found seams. His vision gave him a chance and his 78 yards on 13 carries was the only offense the Indians really mustered. His counterpart in the backfield, Aidan Mencia, struggled. Only 13 yards on 13 carries. Grade: B-
Wide Receivers: It was clear Rhyan Day is their best receiver, and Mechanicsburg knew that. He garnered plenty of attention and caught only two passes for seven yards. The couple times he was open the ball was overthrown. Cade Reed led the Indians in receiving with 43 yards on three catches, but 26 of those yards came against the reserves after it was 35-0. Grade: C
Offensive Line: Rough night for this crew, no other way to put it. The speed and power of the Wildcats up front and coming off the edge was just too much to handle. When a Wing-T offense has only 54 rushing yards on 34 carries, that’s a problem. Sometimes it was a numbers game and Mechanicsburg won by bringing six or seven guys into the gaps. That’s tough. But 10 negative plays says a lot. Grade: D
Defensive Line: This group did its job. They didn’t allow the shifty Wildcats’ QB to escape all the time and they clogged up the middle on those draw plays that get teams off balance. Marcus Smith won more battles than he lost. He stood out. And they brought some heat up the middle on the pass rush, too. Grade: B
Linebackers: Holden, Callin Kauffman and Jesse Julias did very good against the run, but on those pass plays over the middle they missed too many tackles in space to keep Mechanicsburg’s offense under wraps. Less than 300 total yards allowed isn’t bad. Grade: B-
Secondary: Very nice interception by Day in the end zone. His coverage on that fade route was perfect. He did a good job all night as a lock down corner. It’s not easy to defend this quarterback and group of receivers. Making them sputter means it wasn’t all that bad. Grade: C+
Special Teams: I’m guessing the short kickoffs were to keep the speedy Wildcats from running free. Punts were a bit of a mystery with that rugby style producing a nine-yard punt and a 25-yard kick. Not very helpful on the field position battle posing those numbers. Punt coverage was good, though. Grade: C
Quarterback: Micah Brubaker had his normal game of 232 total yards and a hand in all four offensive touchdowns. His speed and ability to improvise when he drops back to pass is something I can only describe as special. And the way he finds open receivers after scrambling drives defenses nuts. Not a lights-out game, but solid. Grade: B+
Running Back: Taylor Shearer didn’t get many carries, and it’s clear this offense isn’t designed for him to get 15-18 carries a game. Only had six totes but he averaged more than 6.0 yards per carry. He also had 42 receiving yards on two catches. Eight total touches for 79 yards. Productive. Grade: B+
Wide Receivers: They have so many options and are best served when several of them are getting three, four or five catches each. Nick Morrison had a big night with 85 yards on four grabs to lead the way. His work after the catch was stellar. I saw only one ball that I would classify as a drop that was catchable. And even that one was in the tough catch category. Grade: A
Offensive Line: Run blocking up the middle was poor all night. I know the Indians were bringing heat up the middle, but that was poor blocking in between the tackles. Tackles Marlon Aristy and Hoyt Lechthaler were solid. Overall, though, way too many holding penalties. Five in one game is far too many. It bogged this offense down. Grade: C
Defensive Line: Tyree Morris was a terror on the edge and shut down several of those inside handoffs meant to fool the defense. He wasn’t fooled. The guy at the other DE, Sam Geraty, had a good night as well. They were a force together. Grade: A
Linebackers: In order to slow down the Wing-T offense you need the MLB, in this case Aristy, to be on point and playing fast. Yeah, No. 56 did his job in the middle. And Sam Deluca is a rising junior who stood out as well. Overall this group was outstanding. Grade: A
Secondary: Caleb Brubaker is a weapon. There’s no other way to put it. They line him up everywhere and he brings heat and on this night was a game wrecker. James Anderson is a ball hawk at safety and had a 45-yard pick-six. Two interceptions overall and less than 50 percent completion percentage. And very good in run support off the edge, too. Grade: A+
Special Teams: Three touchbacks on kickoffs from Morrison and extra points had some pop as well. Kickoff coverage was shaky, nothing in the return game on punts and a missed field goal from 24 yards. Not bad, but certainly not good. Grade: C