Finding What You’re Looking For
WILKES-BARRE- Hanover Area believes it found something it can build on. Holy Redeemer believes it has found its future. All in all, after Hanover Area’s 41-12 victory on Saturday afternoon at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium, both teams can consider it a pretty good day.
The Hawks picked up their second win of the season improving to 2-4. Holy Redeemer dropped to 0-6, but the Royals did receive a glimpse of what the second half of the season may have in store, mainly due to the emergence of freshman quarterback Justice Shoats.
Shoats, playing just his second game for Holy Redeemer after being ruled eligible to join the team for last week’s game against Tunkhannock, rushed for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He first touchdown run, at the 6:34 mark of the first quarter, put the Royals ahead, 6-0. It was also Holy Redeemer’s first points in 18 quarters after it scored 12 in the second period of a Week 1 loss to Holy Cross.
“We have a future,” Holy Redeemer coach Dwayne Downing said. “He gives us a chance, and certainly makes us better. We really haven’t had a chance to work with him that much. His potential is off the charts.”
From Hanover Area’s perspective, the Hawks made some changes to the offense this week. Rather than continue to operate out of a two-back, one tight end set, the Hawks spread things out a bit, at times putting three receivers to one side, while on others splitting two receivers out to each side.
The move helped open things up for quarterback Aaron Hummer who threw for 145 yards and three touchdowns, two of them coming in a 27-point second quarter to Connor Hummer. Running back Joe Curcio added a pair of touchdown runs in the second quarter to help the Hawks take a 27-6 lead at the half.
“We were a little worried this week about a slow start,” Hanover Area coach Mike McCree said. “We struggled with practice this week with the rain and the mud. We were a little nervous about that. I thought we left some points off the board early. I thought Aaron threw the ball well early. We had a couple of drops. Hopefully this is something we can build on.”
As is the case every week with the Royals, injuries began to take its toll as the game wore on. That left Downing searching for healthy bodies, and often had to put players in spots they were not used to playing. Once the Hawks were able to find a weakness on the defensive side of the ball, they were able to attack.
Curcio finished the afternoon with 150 yards rushing, and the Hawks put up 359 yards of total offense. But now that McCree has decided to open things up a bit more, and his roster is being refreshed with some healthy players, he is hoping the offense can be a little more dynamic the second half of the year.
“We were struggling running the ball,” McCree said. “We were getting nine (defenders) in the box consistently. We are starting to get some guys back healthy that can make some plays on the perimeter.”
Shoats operated out of the shotgun the entire game for the Royals. He led the offense on a 12-play drive to start the third quarter that stalled on the Hanover Area 9-yard line when the Royals came up short on a fourth down call. He then put the Royals in position for their second touchdown of the game when he returned a punt 40 yards to the Hanover Area 5-yard line. Three plays later he snuck in from the 1-yard line to cut the Hanover Area lead to 27-12.
Hanover Area answered with a pair of fourth quarter scores to pull away late. Aaron Hummer threw his third touchdown pass of the game, and Pete Hibard scored from 2 yards out.
“I liked how the guys responded,” McCree said. “We were down early on a big run, and we responded and put points up. We have been struggling early to score points. We were able to score 27 in the second quarter. This is something to be pretty proud of.”
Shoats threw for 53 yards completed 7 of 13 passes
“He certainly gets us excited,” Downing said of Shoats. “We are young and we get a lot of these guys back. He is definitely a centerpiece. He can throw, we just haven’t had the time to work on it.”
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