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Panthers step up after teammate goes down

September 18, 2005|By BILL STERNER

HANCOCK

Hancock football coach John Blake says he has been around the game long enough to learn that every victory usually comes at a price.

Senior tailback Jaret Trail had that lesson ingrained in him Saturday afternoon against Bishop Walsh, and it may just be a defining moment for the Hancock football team.

Trail, frustrated a week ago by Williamsport, rushed 18 times for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns as the Panthers (1-1) walloped Bishop Walsh 42-7 at Paul Imphong Field.

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But it was a possible season-ending injury to Hancock senior Jordan Wolford in the first quarter that was a rallying point for the Panthers, who, until that point, were still struggling to find their identity.

It was Wolford's hard sack of Spartans quarterback Zac Hare that jarred the ball loose and enabled Damien Hinckle to rumble the final 25 yards for Hancock's first score.

But when the play ended, Hancock's emotional sparkplug and defensive statistical leader was writhing on the field with a possible fracture of his right ankle. The sack was Wolford's third of the game.

"We couldn't believe it at first," Trail said. "I've been playing on the same teams with Jordan since middle school. He never gets hurt."

"I saw the air go out of our kids," Blake said. "You hate to see any kid get hurt in this game, but Jordan is so important to us."

But as Wolford was taken away to the ambulance, he waved at his teammates and gave them a thumbs up.

"We knew right then, it was going to be our day at Imphong Field," Trail said.

The Panthers pinned Bishop Walsh deep on the next kickoff, before sophomore Danny Mauk blocked a Spartans punt for Hancock's second touchdown.

But the Spartans came right back as sophomore Derrick Sisk intercepted a halfback option pass and returned it 55 yards to put Walsh back in the game at 14-7.

"We tried to get too cute," Blake said. "I called my coaches together and said, 'Back to the basics.'"

The basics meant pounding the overmatched Spartans with the Trail combo - Jaret and Kaleb. The Panthers churned out 323 rushing yards and 21 first downs on the afternoon and added four more TDs - two by each Trail.

"I guess it worked the opposite of what I was afraid of," Blake said of the effect Wolford's injury had on the team. "We really pulled together and got physical."

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