---- — By The Daily Item
In the preseason, Mifflinburg coach Jason Dressler, asked about the importance of returning starter Tanner Bingaman to his backfield, noted that, while a key player, he was one of several running backs who could open some eyes this season.
After an opening-night loss at Selinsgrove, the Wildcats proved their coach correct in their 28-13 Heartland-I win over Shikellamy.
Sure, Bingaman was a big factor, with 21 carries for 104 yards, but the Wildcats' backfield, behind promising junior quarterback Jordan Wagner, are certainly no one-trick pony.
Two-time state wrestling medalist Cole Walter was tough at fullback, picking up 107 yards on only 10 carries and freshman Logan Pierce added 30 on five carries. Senior Chris Temple ran for 29 on five totes, and wide receiver/kicker Brett Luhrman carried twice for 10 yards in the Wildcats' wildcat formation, with Wagner lined up as a wideout.
Dressler said, "Tanner ran hard, I was real pleased with his running style. The freshman, Brayden Pierce, showed some toughness out there and the fullbacks, Cole Walter and Chris Temple did a good job, blocking as well as running the ball.
"They all do what we expect, when you're going down you're going down forward and I was real pleased with how they ran the ball tonight."
And there is more, he said. "We didn't get Tyler Stoltzfus in there tonight. He's another one, who played on the defensive side of the ball, but in the future, you're probably going to see a lot more out of him on the offensive side of the ball."
HAVING FUN: Of his venture to the wide receiver spot, Wagner said, "That was something new. When coach Dressler said we were going to put that in, I was kind of excited."
PAVING THE WAY: Wagner credited the job of his linemen, led by 6-foot-1, 280-pound Nazar Mironenko, with protecting him and opening holes.
"He's a great horse," Wagner said of Mironenko.
STAYING THE COURSE: Dressler said there were two words the coaches used during the week that they said would be key: focus and perseverance.
The second one came into play when Shikellamy answered the 'Cats' initial score to tie it, 7-7.
"When you face adversity in a game, which you will, you've just to persevere and stick with the play and keep with it," he said. "And the kids did a great job with that this week. I was real proud of them."
MISTAKES GALORE: In addition to all the killer penalties, which wiped out three scores and a big first-down run, the Braves also had a high snap on a 37-yard field goal attempt by Seth Burke which would have got them to within 7-3 to open the second quarter. Burke got the kick away under a heavy rush, but it fell short.
A TALE OF TWO HALVES: Danville's defense couldn't stop Loyalsock quarterback Kyle Datres in the first half but the Ironmen kept Datres under wraps on the Lancers' final drive, forcing other players to raise their play for Loyalsock.
After Sam Dressler's touchdown with less than four minutes left, Danville made a red zone stop to seal the win.
"(Our team) always believes in our defense," Dressler said. "You face so much adversity in high school football. I had faith that they were going to come through for us."
NOT GETTING BEAT: Lewisburg quarterback Nick Costagliola had a fairly successful game completing passes against the Mount Carmel secondary. The Lewisburg senior had 12 completions in the Red Tornadoes 30-14 victory, but the key for Mount Carmel was what happened after the Lewisburg receivers made the grab.
"They made some catches, but 'Boom' our secondary guys were right there to make the tackle and they didn't miss many (tackles)," Mount Carmel coach Carm DeFrancesco said. "We were missing that last year."
SCORES DON'T TELL WHOLE STORY: A quick look at the Lewisburg defensive numbers and one would think the Green Dragons have had some issues on that side of the ball.
Lewisburg's opponents have scored 50 points in two games this season, but a deeper look shows that the Green Dragons have been playing quite well defensively.
Of the six touchdown drives that the Green Dragons have allowed in the first two games, only one covered more than 55 yards and four of the six drives began in Lewisburg territory.