Trojans advance to D-11 final
With just a two-score game at halftime, the Parkland football team knew it needed it more, and didn’t want the same kind of close call it had against Liberty two weeks ago.
So the Trojans erupted for a 28-point second half on their way to a 52-10 victory over Easton last Friday night in the District 11 Class 6A semifinals at Parkland Area School District Stadium.
Number one seed Parkland (12-0 overall) remained undefeated and advanced to the district final Friday night for the sixth straight season. The Trojans look for their sixth consecutive championship when they take on sixth-seeded Freedom at Northampton High School.
The Trojans are ranked third in the state in 6A and looked the part in taking down the Red Rovers (7-5) for the sixth straight time in the District 11 tournament. They were also on the winning end of a 42-7 game against Easton back on Sept. 15. These two rivals know each other well when the lights shine brightest.
“There’s always so much emotion between these teams when we play against each other,” said Parkland quarterback Michael Ruisch. “We knew it was going to be a chippy game, and we told the guys to just stay focused on our goal.”
A week after struggling with the eighth-seeded Hurricanes and needing to prevail in the fourth quarter, Parkland wasted no time in jumping all over Easton. It scored the game’s opening touchdown with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter when Ruisch found senior Nate Wieder for a 10-yard score, and led for the rest of the game.
“It all started at practice this week,” said Ruisch. “We had a much better week of practice than we did last week [before Liberty]. We knew coming into this one that we were going to have to score early and get out in front and not have what happened last week happen this week. We stuck to the plan and all the guys played an all-around good game.”
After a Brian Hanton 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter, Easton got onto the scoreboard via a 36-yard touchdown pass from Scott Poulson to Jake Herres.
But after the teams traded points on the ensuing drives, and the Trojans led 17-10, the game took a turn into the hands of the home team.
Ruisch tossed a 38-yard completion to senior wide receiver Juan Salas, who moved the ball to Easton’s 16-yard line. Senior running back Jahan Worth extended the lead to 24-10 with a nine-yard run with 1:07 left in the second quarter.
And on the next Rovers drive, Poulson was injured after absorbing a personal-foul-garnering hit on Parkland’s sideline, which closed out the first half. He did not return to the game, and that was a huge hit to their offense.
When the second-half resume, Easton was forced to punt after a three-and-out. Worth then tallied the first of two third-quarter touchdowns to give Parkland a more comfortable lead at 31-10.
Before they knew it, the Trojans ran it to a mercy rule, and could celebrate an unblemished mark and another trip to the district championship game.
Ruisch finished 7-for-12 for 171 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Worth had 17 carries for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior receiver Tyler Hays (38-yard TD reception) and junior Joey Guida (30-yard TD run) both found the end zone. Senior linebacker Mason Malozzi returned an interception 74-yards for a touchdown to add onto the scoring in the fourth quarter.