MECHANICSBURG – The Indians were too much for Riverside on Friday night as Mechanicsburg rolled to a 36-6 victory behind the combined rushing efforts of Kaleb Romero, Dustin Knapp and Joey Mascadri.
It was a special night for the Indians, as they celebrated the birthday of John Samples, who was severely injured in an automobile accident last year but has rehabilitated enough to be on the sideline with his teammates, though he can’t play. His number 42 was everywhere in the stands and painted in big purple numbers on the 42-yard line.
“It’s weird seeing my number and name everywhere,” Samples said. “You’ve got to keep working. You’re going to be frustrated. Coming home and not being able to play, that’s frustrating. But you’ve got to keep working hard.”
That attitude is keeping the Indians motivated.
“Johnny is a leader. He’s a leader in every way in how hard he’s fought in this entire thing,” M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest said. “When you look over and you see a young man go through the things that he has, how can you not answer the bell for that? He’s a huge motivation for those guys.”
Dylan Hartman, Alex Walton, Ethan Elliot, Cannon Propst and Dylan Hartley opened up lane after lane for the Indians’ rushing attack. Romero finished with 112 yards on 14 carries, Knapp had 198 yards on 19 carries and Mascadri had 43 yards with a 7.2 yard average.
“Those five guys up front, not only are they extremely physcial, but they’re extremely intelligent and they communicate well together. They’re an experienced bunch,” Forrest said.
The Indians opened up a 21-6 lead at halftime thanks to a pair of scores in the final four minutes before the half.
Romero threw a pair of touchdowns to Drew Myers – one from 19 yards and one from 54 yards as soon as the Indians got the ball back with 1:30 left before halftime that broke the game open a little.
The second half saw more of the ground game, with the boys in purple opening up more big holes and the backs finding them with quick cuts that repeatedly broke open the defense.
“They had an excellent game plan to take away Kaleb,” Forrest said. “Those guys up front, they’re going to do their job. As long as we get hats on hats and play physical football, we feel those guys with the ball in their hands are going to get the job done.”
Knapp scored from 24 yards out midway through the third quarter to extend the lead to 28-6 and again early in the fourth to make it 36-6 with a successful two-point conversion and activate the running clock.
The Indians (2-0) play at Northwestern next Friday night.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.