By Jake Herr
Photos by Matt Tulli
The smell of cheeseburgers and hot dogs filled the late summer air at Penn Manor High School as students filed into the parking deck for tailgating, food and activities.Comet Nation, (Penn Manor’s student section) was rated the #1 fan base by PennLive.com in the Lancaster-Lebanon League last year and plan to be nothing but better, crazier and louder. As the Comet Boys (seniors Jesse Kann, Nate Flexman, Andrew Figlio, Sam Lombardo, Ryan Gaukler, Will Forrey and Reed Blazer) took their places in the stands, the crowd grew louder.
The Penn Manor Comets hosted their first home football game on Friday, September 4 against the Cedar Cliff Colts. Penn Manor’s new head coach gave a pep talk to Comet Nation telling them to be loud and stay in the game.
This is John Brubaker’s first year as Penn Manor’s head coach; Brubaker was previously the defensive coordinator at Manheim Central. Penn Manor brought in a whole new coaching staff this year except for assistant varsity coach, Jared Shearer.
Lancaster Red Rose Colorguard brought the American flag on the field because of the USA-themed night. After the opening coin flip in the center of Chryst Field, Cedar Cliff kicked off to Penn Manor. With seniors Blaine Richardson and Jamal McCaskell back to return the kick, Richardson snagged the ball, then wrapped up after 10 yards of running in the middle of the field.
Penn Manor had a tough first drive trying to figure out Cedar Cliff’s defense. Cedar Cliff on the other hand was ready for what Penn Manor had to offer, delivering a 10-play, 62-yard scoring drive to score early in the game. Richardson and McCaskell set back to return the kick again. This time though, Richardson weaved through CC’s special team unit with ease, turning on the burners taking the return to CC’s 47 yard line. Richardson left the game later in the second half due to a knee injury.
Marcos Nina took his spot as a kick returner. The drive was then ended with a halt when junior, Grant Gale tossed an interception (one of three). The Colts then turned that drive into a touchdown, but missed the field goal, making the score 13-0 with 10:55 left in the second quarter.
During the entire game, Comet Nation stayed roaring.
“The student section is getting very loud, the freshman need to get rowdy and into the game,” said Comet Boy, Jesse Kann.
Jamal McCaskell kept trying to break through the defense. Eventually he did, leaving a Colts defender and others in the turf after breaking their ankles and gaining big yardage on his first major carry late in the first half. The drive was ended again by the Colt’s secondary, and their offense converted a turnover into another touchdown to make it 26-0 at halftime.
Eventually, PM got on the scoreboard with an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive that was topped off by running back Carter Kinser (six carries, 43 rushing yards, three TDs) going untouched into the endzone. PM missed the extra point following the touchdown.
Seeking redemption after another CC touchdown, Gale, Kinser and McCaskell took the field. Gale threw a textbook screen pass to Kinser where Kinser did the rest of the work, shredding between defenders making it a 46 yard completion.
Cedar Cliff’s offense continued to be powerful late into the game, but the Comet’s defense slowed down the bleeding, making big time stops. As Penn Manor’s offense began to heat up, the Colt’s defense began the die down. Kinser and Gale began to click, as Kinser picked up his third touchdown of the day in the early fourth quarter, punching through the Colt’s defensive line. The Comets fell to the Colts 54-20 as a final result.
Jamal McCaskell had a big game as well, racking up 104 rushing yards on 16 carries. Cedar Cliff finished the game with 518 total offensive yards on 54 plays. The Comets, on the other hand, finish with 313 total offensive yards on 47 plays. The Colts key players were junior quarterback Grant Breneman (12-of-15, 254 passing yards, two TDs) and senior receiver Miki Viti, (six receptions, 142 yards, one TD).
Penn Manor will take on Lampeter Strasburg next Friday night for their first away game this fall.