Wyomissing football coach Bob Wolfrum does not seem to care how it looks on the stat sheet as long as his Spartans get the job done.
“On any given day somebody can cross the goal line a bunch of times,” Wolfrum said. “If we score from in tight, it’s probably a fullback, if we score from further out, it’s probably a halfback. So that’s just the way it goes. We don’t worry about who’s doing the scoring.”
On Saturday, playing in his first varsity game at the A-Field, freshman running back Justice Hardy burst onto the scene and helped Wyomissing get the job done, scoring three touchdowns to lead the Spartans (1-0, 4-0) to a 35-7 win over Lancaster-Lebanon League Section 4 rival Berks Catholic in the annual ‘Backyard Brawl.’
Hardy scored on a 5-yard rushing touchdown, caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Logan Hyde and intercepted Saints quarterback William Hess for a 25-yard interception return touchdown.
Versatility abound, senior wide receiver Ethan Brower added to the dynamic phases of scoring by recording a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“It’s really nice to score on special teams, especially after last week when we gave up two scores,” Wolfrum said. “And the score on defense, that’s always big. We started out really strong offensively. They made some adjustments and it made it tough for us. They play good defense. I thought our defense bent, but it didn’t break, except for one drive. We did a nice job.”
Hardy’s contributions proved pivotal, as his pick six drastically shifted momentum just before halftime and his receiving touchdown with 1:49 in the third quarter turned out to be the final score of the game. He finished with 47 yards rushing on five carries and with 40 receiving yards on two catches.
“It feels great. It’s a great team experience. It gave us a lot of confidence, especially after that nail-biting game against Trinity (last week),” Hardy said. “This is the biggest rivalry in Berks County in my opinion, and it’s a great one.”
“He’s got great speed and really good instincts,” Wolfrum said about Hardy. “For a ninth grader, he’s a pretty mature football player.”
What had been a close game got away from the Saints in a hurry, as Brower’s punt return kick started the momentum for the Spartans.
With Wyomissing up 14-7 with about 1:20 left in the second quarter, Brower received an appetizing line drive of a punt that was taken from Berks Catholic’s 41. He saw the opportunity to use his speed, find a lane and capitalize.
“I saw it was a line drive punt so I knew I’d be able to return it,” said Brower, who is also a sprinter on the Wyomissing 400 relay team. “I made the first guy miss, and I looked to my left and saw a bunch of open field and a bunch of blue jerseys. They did a great job blocking and I just ran as fast as I could, and I think my track speed helps there.”
Hardy then took the wind out of Berks Catholic’s sails a few moments later when he executed solid coverage and jumped in front of his man to make the interception.
“We saw the play on their first drive so we knew it was coming from the start,” Hardy said. “As soon as the quarterback dropped back, the ball went to his ear so I broke on my receiver.”
He picked up right where he left off in the second half. On a third-and-6 on Berks Catholic’s 31, Hyde rolled out to the left and floated a pass over near the left pylon. Hardy jumped to beat his defender and pulled in the pass for the final touchdown of the game with 1:49 to go in the third quarter.
“We don’t really get to pass that much, so every time we do we try to make the best of it,” Hardy said.
For Saints coach Rick Keeley, the two plays were detrimental to an otherwise solid start.
Wyomissing held a 14-0 lead after the first quarter thanks to a 57-yard rushing touchdown from Drew Forrey on the Spartans’ first offensive play, and a 5-yard touchdown run from Hardy that came with 3:54 remaining in the first quarter and capped a 5-play, 53-yard drive.
A 3-yard rushing touchdown by Devin Garcia with 10:02 remaining in the second put Berks Catholic on the board. The Saints forced Wyomissing to punt on its ensuing drive to stay in contention.
“If we could have gone in without those two touchdowns that they got towards the end of the first half, it would have been a closer game.” Keeley said. “That was big for them and took the steam out of us.
“I’m happy with the way we played. We just came through four really, really good teams. We got to make sure our heads are up and we’re ready to play next week.”
For Wolfrum, a win in a historic rivalry is always a welcomed sight, but there are still things to improve on heading into Week 5.
“It’s nice to win your rivalry games,” Wolfrum said. “Offensively, sometimes we lose the physical battle. That happens too often to us and we got to fix that. We got to get a little tougher, quite frankly.”
Source: Berkshire mont