Wallenpaupack Area suffered a disappointing Week One loss
The 2017 high school football season officially kicked-off Friday night when Wallenpaupack Area welcomed Wyoming Area to the shores of The Big Lake.
Under clear skies and with temperatures more akin to those expected in late September, the Buckhorns and Warriors got down to business.
The visitors elected to receive the kick-off but rather abruptly were forced to punt the ball away just four downs into the game.
The Buckhorns took possession and picked up a couple of first downs to get inside the Warriors 20-yard line. With eight yards to go on a fourth down, Paupack gave the nod to senior Zach Maldacker for the field goal.
Unfortunately for local fans, his attempt went wide left and the game remained scoreless.
Wyoming Area only held the ball for a brief time before they botched the punt and Paupack gained possession once again.
They quickly blew through three downs and found themselves 32 yards shy of the end zone. That brought out Maldacker once again, but this time he split the posts for a 42-yard field goal.
This put three points up on the scoreboard for the Buckhorns with just over a minute left in the quarter.
A relatively flag-free first quarter gave way to a penalty laden second.
Late in the period senior Aiden Maldacker rushed to a first and goal. Junior Nick Ruggieri moved the ball up five yards but a flag on the play sent the Buckhorns back to the Warrior 20.
A flag on the next play pushed them back five yards further. With 53 seconds left in the half, Zach Maldacker tried for another field goal. He nailed it, but a false start nullified the gain.
A second attempt cruised wide right. No good, but Paupack still held on to a 3-0 lead at intermission.
Just moments into the second half, Wyoming Area’s Darren Rodney broke free for a 22-yard touchdown run.
The extra point attempt was good and the Warriors jumped ahead 7-3.
In spite of some serious efforts, Paupack couldn’t manufacture any more points during the remainder of the quarter.
As the game progressed through the final period, the Bucks put up a few long drives. Juniors Tyler Neglia and Eric Smith each earned first downs for Paupack, getting them to within striking distance of the goal line.
Several attempts to pass into the endzone were incomplete and on a fourth down, they went for it but ended up turning the ball over to Wyoming Area.
Time was short and the Warriors used the clock to their advantage. Running out the final time, Wyoming Area was able to secure the win while Paupack headed back to the locker room to strategize for next week.
That’s a Wrap
“Our defense did very well,” said veteran head coach Dr. Mark Watson.
“We held them to about 150 yards. Last year they really beat us up, this year was much better.
“Offensively, we made too many mistakes. Fumbles killed us and we just didn’t execute. We just couldn’t score.”
Defensively, Paupack allowed just 58 yards passing and 61 rushing.
On the other hand, in spite of some impressive numbers, the Buckhorns inability to get the ball in the end zone was the chink in an otherwise impressive suit of armor.
Paupack is still a relatively young team but many of these same players took a wallop last season against Wyoming Area.
That ended with the Warriors claiming a 32-0 victory.
Junior Tom McCormack completed 12-of-20 passes for 94 yards. Senior Tommy VanBuskirk had three receptions for 15 yards, as did classmate Aiden Maldacker.
Other juniors making contributions for the Buckhorns were:
•Adam Haupt with three receptions good for 28 yards
•Eric Smith with a 17-yard reception
•Joe Ingulli with a pair of catches totaling 19 yards and 12 rushes for 41
•Nick Ruggeri, who gained 59 yards on a dozen attempts.
What’s on Tap?
Friday night will find both Paupack and Delaware Valley on the road.
DV, who beat Ft. Pierce Central in a 19-14 decision last Friday in Orlando, FL, will make its way to Valley View. The Cougars are coming off a 63-14 win over Riverside.
Paupack journeys to West Scranton. The Invaders suffered a 28-18 loss to Dunmore.
With two teams contending to stay undefeated and another two looking for their first win, expect two heated matches this week for the Pike County squads in the Lackawanna Football Conference.