By Anthony Mitchell
For The Daily Item
BEAVER SPRINGS — David Brantley essentially had a role for East Juniata’s offense everywhere except for the line last week.
In a 35-7 win over Bucktail, Brantley made his biggest impact in the backfield in his traditional running back role, but also caught a pass and showed off his throwing arm to defeat the Bucks.
That added versatility only makes the senior more dangerous to an opposing defense, as Brantley racked up 109 yards and a touchdown on the ground, while throwing for 28 yards through the air and catching a six-yard pass.
“David did a good job for us (against Bucktail),” East Juniata head coach Simon Cameron said. “He’s a very intelligent kid, football and high school-wise. He’s fast. He has good hands and good vision. You take all those and put them together, he’s a very versatile player for us.”
Halfax head coach Matt Maniskas will now be tasked with trying to stop Brantley in a welcome-back-to-the-TVL moment for the former Newport assistant coach. The Wildcats will take on the Tigers at West Snyder Middle School.
“(Brantley’s) an impressive player,” Maniskas said. “I don’t know if you slow him down. You have to put guys in a position to keep him contained. He had a couple big runs against Bucktail. We will adjust our defense to (try to) prevent that from happening.”
Maniskas and his team lost 63-0 last week to Steelton-Highspire but the Wildcats coach said he was pleased with the attitude of his players despite the score.
“I was proud of the fact that it didn’t matter what the score was,” Maniskas said. “Those guys were going to continue to give all they had until the final whistle.”
In the second half, Halifax held Steelton-Highspire to six points to take positives into practice this week.
Maniskas said the coaching staff held an impromptu meeting at halftime and entered the second half with the decision that the next two quarters would be a brand-new game and not letting the first half affect their play.
One aspect that will help Maniskas in addition to a committed bunch of players is a switch to a pro-style offense after Maniskas spent time with the Indianapolis Colts after leaving Newport.
Last week, Wildcats quarterbacks attempted 25 passes, running more passing plays than runs.
Against an East Juniata defense geared toward stopping the run, a pro-style offense could present a challenge for the Tigers and force them to adapt.
Cameron said that as the season progresses he would like to see other players make things happen to prevent defenses from keying in on Brantley.
A player that stepped to the plate offensively last week for Cameron was Kevin Allen at wide receiver. The senior provided a one-two punch with Brantley, finishing with four catches for 107 yards and two touchdowns.
Aside from the offensive stars for East Juniata, all-state punter Dalton Rowe wil give the Tigers a distinct advantage if the game is close late in the fourth quarter. Rowe is also the placekicker for the Tigers and Cameron said he would like to give Rowe a chance to make a long field goal.
“He has a real nice leg for us,” Cameron said. “He’s pretty much automatic with extra points. (He) gives us the option to go for three points, which can make the difference in a close game.”