Line play leads PHS to 11 straight wins
It's funny how much things can change in the span of a couple of months.
After suffering its worst defeat of the season in a 24-0 week two loss to Easton, Parkland looked drastically different in a rematch of the two teams with much more at stake.
One major reason that the Trojans won in shutout fashion this time around was their superb play on both the offensive and defensive lines.
"Last time we played them, we couldn't run inside zone," Parkland head coach Jim Morgans said. "We didn't get anything with inside zone. But we were determined to run it and we did.
"Our offensive line is a lot better than it was in the second week of the season. We gradually kept getting better and better."
Compared to giving up their second-highest point total (24) and their third-most total yards (273) against the Red Rovers to kick off the LVC schedule, the defense was much-improved in Friday night's title game.
Led by a defensive line that included Omar Haddad, David Barber, Amir Wallace and Hudson Rabenold, the Trojans held the Red Rovers scoreless and to a combined 164 yards of offense (113 rushing and 51 passing). In the previous meeting, the Red Rovers ran for 163 yards and passed for 110 more.
"I think our defense took a slap to the face, 24-0," Haddad said. "We weren't satisfied with that performance, so we came out here with something to prove. We're just getting after it, and just playing some tough football."
Easton's Shane Simpson and Kyle Bambary both entered last week's game as 1,000-yard rushers. The two combined for just 82 yards on the ground, with Bambary leading the way with 58.
"No one ever could have foreseen it," Rabenold said. "That was a great way to end the last game on this field ever as a senior."
In terms of the offensive showing, it couldn't have been more night and day from the output the Trojans displayed back in early September.
Their previous loss to Easton was the only time all season the Trojans had been shutout. They're next-lowest point total came against Whitehall in week five of the season when they tallied 21 points.
What's even more impressive is the drastic change up front on the offensive line that mostly included Haddad, Barber, Rabenold, Nezar Haddad, Josh Walmer, Dominic Rossetti, Mike Aboulhouda and Kyle Krisher.
While the Trojans managed a mere 63 yards of total offense in their initial meeting, all of which were rushing, the offensive line helped provide big holes for Kareem Williams all game long last Friday Williams ran for a career-high 308 rushing yards.
"Our offensive line is starting to gel," Haddad said. "We're making progress every week. That's what we're aiming for is progress."
"Our offensive line definitely stepped up," Rabenold said. "All around, our intensity picked up tremendously."
The Trojans accumulated an astounding 429 total yards on offense (371 rushing and 58 passing) in the district title game, their third-best clip of the season. The 371 rushing yards is a season high for the Trojans.
While the playmakers deserve a lot of credit for getting the ball into the end zone, the offensive line deserves just as much praise for its work in the trenches.
"It all starts up front," Rabenold said. "We're the unsung heroes. It all starts up front.
"Unfortunately we get yelled at when things go wrong, but our coach, Paul Hagadus, he really rewards us when we do our job right. He lets us know when we're doing a good job."