By Shawn Wood
For The Daily Item
ELIZABETHVILLE — Friday’s game between Millersburg and Upper Dauphin can be likened to your family’s Thanksgiving Day football game: one side of the family will have bragging rights for a year.
The back-yard scrap features an Indians (3-6, 3-5 TVL) team that coach Brad Hatter said played its first complete game —i n last week’s 41-6 win over East Juniata — since it beat Line Mountain, 28-26, in week two of the season.
Mac Ney rushed for 290 yards on 18 carries last week as the Trojans’ ran their winning streak to four straight.
“We told our kids that we are not just going to go there and compete, we are going there to win,” Hatter said.
“(You can) forget about the playoffs for a second, our kids are excited to play this game,” Bell added.
Last week’s win over East Juniata snapped the Indians’ four-game losing streak.
“We got to a slow start last week, but we responded and got some big plays, and the bottom line is that we haven’t had many big plays this year,” Hatter said.
“We knew coming into the season (only five seniors on the team), that, with a young team, we were going to go out and compete as much as we can,” he added. “The wins and losses are not where we want them to be, but when we watched the game film from last week, we saw improvement from our quarterback, Christian Winger, a freshman and running back Cole Shomper. Plus the line was getting a great push and blowing a team off the ball for once.”
During film session on Monday, Hatter noted that his kids were making comments about playing midget football with some of the kids for Upper Dauphin years ago.
Millersburg will only lose five seniors this year and will have eight to nine kids in this year’s starting lineup back for next year.
“The game is heightened with them making a run for the (District 3 Class A) playoffs and we want to send our seniors out with a win,” Hatter added. “It’s important for us to develop momentum going into the offseason.
After scoring just 13 points in back-to-back losses in Week 4 and 5 of the season, the Trojans (6-3, 5-3 TVL) have exploded for 129 points in their last four games.
“We started to utilize our quarterback, Mac Ney, a little bit more and he made some suggestions for last week and they worked,” Bell said. “We put in the zone read in the game for Tri-Valley but we wern’t ready for it and Mac is a smart kid and he understands the game.”
Ney has rushed for nearly 600 yards this season.
A win on Friday could improve the Trojans’ playoff chances for the D3-A tournament in which Steel-High, Fairfield and York Catholic occupy the top three spots.
“We told our kids that we control our own destiny,” Bell added. “We are focused on what we can control. Millersburg has a strong passing game. We have to play good pass defense and have a good pass rush.”