GAR Runs Through Holy Redeemer In Big Win
WILKES-BARRE — Being able to get the skill position players to operate freely in space via the perimeter is a problem GAR coach Paul Wiedlich Jr. identified as early as last week. He understands that teams are going to try and take the perimeter away and make the Grenadiers beat them inside.
It was a point of emphasis this week during practice and will continue to be one going forward. So what the Grenadiers did on Thursday night was attack Holy Redeemer’s defense with the inside run game.
The results proved to be favorable, but Wiedlich is fully aware it will be a work in progress to get the Grenadiers to the point where teams are going to have to respect it.
Malachi Williams gave GAR a jolt with a long punt return for a touchdown, and the Grenadiers scored on five of their first six offensive possessions in a 43-0 victory at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
GAR bounced back from last week’s loss at Susquehanna to improve to 1-1 on the year. Holy Redeemer dropped to 0-2.
“The kids have continued to improve week in and week out since our scrimmage, and especially last week” Wiedlich said. “There are still a lot of mental miscues we have to work on.”
Williams got the Grenadiers off to a flying start when he returned a punt 62 yards for a touchdown. The Grenadiers typically play their best when the defense and special teams are out on the field making plays. Both phases stepped up against the Royals.
GAR held Holy Redeemer to 20 yards of total offense and did not allow the Royals to get beyond midfield. Rodsheen Ayer added a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and the Grenadiers scored three more times in the second to open a 35-0 lead at the half.
Justice Lomas caught a touchdown pass and ran for one, and Will Johnson hauled in an 8-yard touchdow pass from Kam Taylor. Taylor finished the night an efficient 7 for 11 for 100 yards and two touchdown passes. Lomas accounted for three total scores.
But it was the punt return that quickly took a little bit of air out of Holy Redeemer’s sails.
“Right from the beginning we knew we were going to struggle with some of their skill athletes,” Holy Redeemer coach Dwayne Downing said. “They have a lot of speed. It wasn’t a good matchup for us on the perimeter. The punt return set the tone.”
With the advantage of operating with a comfortable lead, the Grenadiers went to work on the run game. Rather than bouncing to the outside, GAR concentrated on running the ball inside. The Grenadiers finished the night with 234 yards rushing on 35 total attempts. There were some issues with the center-to-quarterback exchange on the snap in the shotgun formation, but Wiedlich believes that is one of the mistakes that can be corrected.
“Teams play us against the perimeter, today the main goal was to establish the inside run game,” Wiedlich said. “We have to block better, and we have to block better on the perimeter as well. I still think our running backs need to be more disciplined and wait for the holes to develop.”
As for the Royals, they lost starting quarterback Colin Conway for the night late in the first quarter when he was tackled running the ball near the Redeemer sideline. That left Ryan Williams, the team’s featured running back as the only viable option to take over the position. That took away any type of rushing attack the Royals would have been able to put together, especially with Williams taking the snap from under center.
“Losing our quarterback deflated us, he is a big part of what we are trying to do,” Downing said. “I think we lost five or six guys (to injury), and we aren’t deep to begin with. It’s hard. We are a young team and we are learning. There are going to be days like this. I think we are a better team than this.”
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