The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

High School Sports

June 21, 2014

Cory Isenberg | Big numbers posted all around in Lantzy game

JOHNSTOWN — The South’s 48-18 victory over the North in Friday night’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game was an entertaining evening of football for the reported crowd of close to 4,500 at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.

The point total for the Rebels equaled the output of the South squad in the 30th edition of the game but is behind the 51 scored by the Yankees in the 1992 contest and the 50 points tallied by the South in the 39th game.

The combined point total of 66 points is fifth on the Lantzy list. The 2009 classic holds the record with 88 points followed by the 2006 edition with 82. In 2000, the teams had 68 points while in 1996 they had 67.

On the other end of the spectrum, the lowest scoring game in Lantzy history was a 6-0 North win in the 21st annual edition with Portage’s Travis Kargo and Bishop Carroll’s Shane Leahey combining for the winning score with under 2 minutes left in the contest.

Although Lantzy records are not kept for penalties, Friday night’s game certainly had plenty of them. The North had eight for 100 yards and the South 12 for 105.

Yikes, that’s 20 penalties for 205 yards.

In fact, the penalties negated the half-hour earlier start of 7 p.m. for the game. The first half was over just after 8:30 p.m. and the game was complete at around 10:20.

The 15-minute quarters didn’t help, although they didn’t appear to be the culprit for the lateness of the game as much as the penalties and the incomplete passes.

But despite less than ideal weather conditions with a drizzle in the air, there were still quite a few spectators remaining when the awards were handed out at the end.

Coaching support: In addition to the coaches who serve as the staff for the North and South teams at the Ken Lantzy game, the event itself draws a great deal of support from the rest of the coaching community.

I was impressed with the number of head coaches of the participating high schools who were in the stands on Friday to support their outgoing senior classes of athletes.

It seems to be the one thing that most coaches can all agree on.

South air strike: Richland’s Matt Shaffer has set all kinds of school records during his prolific high school career and on Friday etched his name into the Lantzy history book.

Shaffer threw to nine different receivers for 202 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for another 122 and a score, earning the award as the outstanding offensive back for the South.

“Every play was exciting and something to remember,” Shaffer said. “This group really came together and it was really good that the Richland guys (Kyle Flick, Tanner Solarczyk, Ben Verhovsek) kind of stood out tonight and showed their talent to all these people. I think people knew that we had a lot of expectations and I think we lived up to them. This is a great team and it is something that we are going to remember for a long time.”

Rams’ teammate Kyle Flick accounted for 126 receiving yards and caught two touchdown passes from Shaffer along with one scoring strike from Somerset’s Tanner Stull.

“That’s been something that we’ve been doing for a long time,” Shaffer said. “It’s a lot of confidence knowing that he is going to go and make a play and all these receivers did good when they needed to. They all made big plays. Obviously, we can’t do it without the linemen. They did a great job tonight.”

Shaffer got a lot of the notice, especially in the second half after Ligonier Valley’s Scott Fennell was sidelined just before the intermission. Fennell passed for 188 yards in the first half and earned praise from South head coach Bob Landis of Somerset.

“It wasn’t difficult to get them ready at all because that’s what we do,” said Landis. “At Somerset we run a spread (and) Richland runs a spread, so two of our quarterbacks were already well-versed. But Scott Fennell did a fantastic job this week (of) learning the offense. All three of the Q’s (quarterbacks) picked it up, and when the Q’s pick it up, it’s easy to get it to the receivers.”

The South offense finished with over 600 total yards, including over 400 through the air.

Defensive dynamos: While the South offense was racking up yardage, the defense was able to hold the North in check.

“We were able to make some pretty big key stops,” said North Star’s Dalton Rice, who was selected the South’s outstanding defensive lineman. “We created a couple turnovers on defense, two fumble recoveries really helped a lot. We just played really good defense, good enough to win the game.”

Added Somerset linebacker Douglas Berkebile, who was the South outstanding defensive back: “Our whole defense was a huge part of the game, stopping the North from going outside and keeping everything contained to the inside.”

Rice said the game was a perfect end to his high school career.

“It was definitely a rush playing in this game,” Rice said. “I am never going to forget this game being able to go out one final game with a win.”

 

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