T-D HS Football

Richland running back Nick Naglic (center) is surrounded by Greater Johnstown defenders during the Rams’ 48-7 victory over the Trojans on Friday night.

Richland rattles Johnstown

By: Shawn Curtis

JOHNSTOWN — If there was a question mark hovering over the Richland Rams entering this season, it might have been pointed at the squad’s offensive line.
Four starters were lost from a group that helped the Rams accrue 6,280 yards in 2012.
By watching the Rams’ 48-7 victory on Friday over Greater Johnstown at Trojan Stadium, there was no evidence of a dropoff in quality.
Richland passed for 270 yards and picked up another 279 yards on the ground while chewing huge chunks of the Trojan Stadium turf almost at will.
“We’re real happy with their progress,” Rams coach Brandon Bailey said of the team’s offensive line. “We’ve got a lot of different kids worked in there. It’s not just five kids, we’ve got probably seven or eight kids working in and we’re real happy with their progress and just trying to get better each week.”
Quarterback Matt Shaffer passed for 253 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 59 yards and another score. Running back Tanner Solarczyk rushed 15 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
Kyle Flick notched 158 yards on four catches while notching three touchdowns, including an 80-yard catch-and-run on the Rams’ first play from scrimmage. Shaffer’s pass to Nico Pecora staked the Rams to an 8-0 lead.
“They’ve got the weapons,” Greater Johnstown coach Tony Penna Jr. said of Richland. “They’re a solid ball club.” 
Solarczyk reached the end zone to finish off Richland’s next drive – a 30-yard march set up by Elijah Metzgar’s punt block. Solarczyk pounded the ball in from the 3 to make it 15-0.
Shaffer guided Richland (4-0) to the end zone with his legs early in the second when wound through the Trojans’ defense on his way to a 44-yard score.
A 21-yard pass to Metzgar and a 24-yard strike to Flick accounted for the Rams’ other scoring in the first half as Richland built a 35-0 advantage.
Flick was on the receiving end of Shaffer’s fourth touchdown pass – a 25-yard play – early in the third with the running clock in motion.
Solarczyk’s night ended with 10:44 left in the fourth when he plowed in from the Trojans’ 2 to make it 48-0.
“You can’t just focus on any one guy,” Bailey said “Whenever you try to do that, we’re able to counteract that and go to someone else. That’s what makes our team so dangerous offensively.” 
Greater Johnstown (2-2) posted its points on the board with 2:16 remaining on Taurean Jones’ 39-yard dash around the Richland line. Nate Litvin notched on the point-after kick.
It was Greater Johnstown’s longest gainer against Richland, which permitted just 66 yards and two first downs by the Trojans.
“If you’re not going to possess the football against (Richland), it’s going to be a long day,” Penna said. “You don’t want to play keepaway either. You’ve gotta get first downs, gotta move the ball. I’ve seen teams try to play keepaway against them and they end up getting kind of stagnant and (Richland) scores on them anyway. You have to go toe-to-toe with them and slow them down a bit.”
The Rams’ last regular-season loss came in Week 9 of the 2011 season – a 32-24 Penn Cambria victory. Since then, Richland has reeled off 15 straight wins in regular season play while compiling a 6-2 postseason mark in 2011 and 2012.
Bishop McCort (0-4) is next on the Rams’ slate.
“It’s a big game even though Bishop McCort is having a down year,” Bailey said. “It’s always a great game and we’re looking forward to it.” 
Greater Johnstown draws Somerset to Trojan Stadium next Friday.
“We have to get back to work,” Penna said. “It’s not a four-game season. We’re 2-2. We just have to get back to work. No other option.”