Newspaper clippings from Berlin’s 28-20 loss at Windber three weeks ago have been on full display inside the Mountaineers’ locker room recently.
They served as a daily reminder that Ramblers players called themselves the better football team.
On that Friday night, Windber was the better football team. During Saturday night’s District 5 Class A semifinal at Snyder of Berlin Sports Complex, once again there was no doubt which football team was the better one. It was pretty easy to figure the best player, too.
Berlin ran the football 72 times for 461 yards, including a Herculean 43 carries for 272 yards and four touchdowns from senior tailback Drew Glotfelty as the Mountaineers advanced to the district championship game with a 40-20 victory.
“I’m good. I’m just happy we won the game,” said Glotfelty, who takes 1,770 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns into next week’s title game at Somerset against WestPAC rival North Star (10-2). “We came out and played with more intensity than the last time. We started from the beginning and didn’t let up.”
How dominant was Glotfelty? Well, as he jogged off the field, Windber coach Matt Grohal jokingly told Glotfelty that he was glad he was graduating.
“He’s a special player and he showed why he’s the best player in District 5,” Grohal said. “I wish him well and I can only imagine how much fun it will be to watch him run on the turf (at Somerset) next week.”
And make no mistake, second-seeded Berlin (10-1) will run the football as much as possible.
Going into the game, Mountaineers coach Doug Paul believed his team would need to throw the football to advance. Berlin attempted just eight passes and its ability to churn yards on the ground help overcome 10 penalties for 110 yards. Windber, in turn, had nine penalties for 85 yards.
Berlin’s offensive line continually surged off the snap count. They beat Windber to the point of attack and Glotfelty, freshman Braden Fochtman (10 carries, 98 yards) and fullback Collin Belcher (77 yards, one TD) rarely, if ever, went down on first contact.
To make things tougher on Windber’s defense, Berlin moved Dante Paul from the line to tight end. Essentially, it gave the Mountaineers six offensive lineman at all times.
“(The line) took this game very personal,” Berlin coach Doug Paul said. “The last game against them was the first game where we were handled up front. We’ve carried a sledgehammer to the field the last 3 1⁄2 years. They didn’t have the sledgehammer for (Saturday’s) game. I think they earned it back.”
Behind aggressive blocking and no-huddle offense, the Mountaineers controlled the first quarter with six rushing first downs and one via passing, but Berlin’s only points of the quarter came on a 17-yard pass from Blake Miller to Luke Bonus that led to a 7-0 lead with 1:48 remaining.
Windber quarterback Dakota Gipe, who suffered an elbow injury during last week’s playoff victory over Tussey Mountain, showed no lingering effects as he continually looked for receivers downfield against a Berlin secondary that struggled to keep up with receivers like Matt Barkley, who finished with seven receptions for 93 yards.
On the last play of the first quarter, Windber picked up its initial first down not courtesy of Berlin penalty – the Ramblers picked up four first downs in the first half on Berlin penalties - on a 37-yard pass from Gipe to Barkley. A couple plays later, Winder tied the game on one of the better passes of the season.
Gipe rolled right to avoid the Berlin pass rush, but kept his eyes on Dan Tomlinson, who was running left from the back end of the end zone. Gipe threw across his body , and the ball sailed hash mark to hash mark and above the Berlin defense right to Tomlinson for a 19-yard touchdown with 10:26 left in the second.
Windber took a 14-7 lead on another drive engineered by Gipe, who completed a 27-yard pass to Dustin Blough on a nifty reverse.
“In the first half, we had a game on our hands,” Paul said. “I felt we kept them in the game with some penalties.”
Gipe wasn’t as successful in the second half, though he did finish 139 yards passing. Berlin had three interceptions in the second half and four for the game, two from E.J. Custer.
“We knew we had the better team,” Glotfelty said with a smile. “We didn’t play with our full intensity last time. This game right here was the best game we played all year.”