It’s déjà vu for the Wyomissing football team.
Almost a year to the day since defeating Danville 21-19 in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal, the Spartans will take on the Ironmen again in another state quarterfinal Friday at Albright’s Shirk Stadium at 7 p.m.
In last season’s contest, Wyomissing held on for the victory after Aaron Johnson missed a 32-yard field goal in the final seconds that would have won it for Danville.
The winner Friday’s will play the winner of the quarterfinal between District 11 champ Northwestern Lehigh (13-0) and District 2 champ Scranton Prep (12-1).
Hoping to advance to the state semifinals for the fourth straight year, the Spartans are looking to play a more complete game from start to finish this time around against the Ironmen.
“It’s good in the fact that we saw what they could do,” Wyomissing coach Bob Wolfrum said. “We were up 21-0 on ’em last year, and in the second half, between them playing great and us making some mistakes, they probably should have won that game.
“They had a chip-shot field goal to beat us at the end but just didn’t make it. So it’s good that our kids have a healthy respect for them and know that we got to play a full 48 minutes and not just the first half.”
Both teams come into the game riding high after adding to their streak of district championship victories.
The Spartans (11-1) defeated West Perry 42-14 to win their fifth straight District 3 Class 3A title.
The Ironmen (12-1) defeated Loyalsock 40-7 to win their fourth straight District 4 title.
Furthermore, Wyomissing has found its groove in the run game over the recent weeks as three Spartans ran for touchdowns in the win over the Mustangs, and five players scored on the ground in a 48-0 district semifinal win over Schuylkill Valley.
Wyomissing rushed for 622 yards on 83 carries (319 on 42 carries vs. West Perry, 303 on 41 carries vs. Schuylkill Valley) over those two games. In total, the Spartans have 3,657 rushing yards on 495 attempts this year.
“The last three or four games we’ve really stepped up to another level,” Wolfrum said. “You never know, we could drop the ball four times, but I have confidence that we can block them and move the ball.
“They’re not quite as big as they were last year. I think they’re a little younger; very talented, but younger. Assuming we don’t make mistakes on turnovers and stuff, I feel good about our offense.”
Senior quarterback Logan Hyde has thrown touchdown passes in two straight games to freshman running back Justice Hardy; one a 16-yarder against West Perry and the other a 37-yarder against Schuylkill Valley.
Hyde has thrown nine touchdowns, two interceptions and is 35-of-65 for 695 yards on the season.
On the other side, Danville boasts strength in its passing game as junior quarterback Madden Patrick has thrown for 3,067 passing yards and 46 touchdowns.
Patrick’s most utilized receiver, Johnson, a senior, has caught 27 touchdowns and needs one more score to break the PIAA record for receiving TDs in a season.
“They’re very skilled, very athletic; they throw the ball over half the time,” Wolfrum said. “The quarterback is very good and their receivers are good. They have one receiver (Aaron Johnson) that has ridiculous stats. He is a guy we have to make sure that we keep under control. (He has) great speed and he catches the ball really well; even when he’s covered he can go up and get it.”
As Wolfrum alluded to, the turnover battle could prove crucial.
Wyomissing figures to use its patented Wing-T rushing attack to control the clock and possession, while the Ironmen surely will look to use their weapons through the air to put points on the board.
Sophomore running back/linebacker Chase Eisenhower had an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Mustangs, and senior linebacker Collin Niedrowski had a 7-yard interception return for a touchdown against the Panthers.
In the final game of the regular season, an 18-13 victory against Lampeter-Strasburg, Hardy had a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown. The Spartans have scored five defensive touchdowns this season.
A year ago, Wyomissing’s Matthew Kramer, who has graduated, fumbled the ball for the game’s only turnover, but also blocked an extra point that proved pivotal and ultimately forced Danville to have to attempt a field goal at the end.
For Wolfrum, in a game that could be decided by the thinnest of margins, putting pressure on the opposing quarterback could be the key to finding success.
“We need to stop their passing game, which means we have to do the best we can to cover him (Johnson),” Wolfrum said, “but we also have to put pressure on the quarterback. If we let them sit there and be comfortable, we’re in for a long night.
“One of the things we’ve done well this year is getting quarterbacks off their mark so they have to throw on the run. Nobody’s as good on the run as when they’re standing still, so it’s what we need to do.”
Source: Berkshire mont