WINDBER, Pa. – Windber coach Matt Grohal was pleased with his team’s performance in Friday night’s home opener.
The Ramblers produced big play after big play to open up a 49-point lead with just over eight minutes left in the first half before cruising to a 64-14 WestPAC win over visiting Blacklick Valley.
“We played flawless football for 13 minutes,” Grohal said.
Windber (2-0) applied an early knockout punch to the Vikings (0-2) as the Ramblers had four scoring plays ranging from 44 to 89 yards in the first quarter.
“Coming out of the gate, the kids were excited,” Grohal said. “We only have four home games this year, and our seniors really love playing on the carpet here.
“Offense, defense, and special teams were darn near perfect, it’s a credit to their hard work.”
Windber senior kick returner/running back Nick Dom returned the opening kickoff for an 83-yard touchdown to put the Ramblers in the lead just 12 seconds into the contest. In addition to Dom’s kickoff return score, he added a 44-yard touchdown run at the 8:16 mark of the first quarter to put his squad firmly in command at 21-0.
“When Nick took it to the house, that set the tone for the game,” Grohal said. “I’m excited for our seniors.”
“It’s pretty easy when you’re going untouched,” Dom said. “The line did a great job, and the kickoff return team did a great job opening the holes. We just looked good tonight.”
Grohal also complimented the Ramblers’ offensive line.
“I praise my offensive line any day of the week,” Grohal said. “They opened up some gaping holes. Brady Russo, Nathan Grohal, Gino Flori, Dominic Bifano and Dominic Waite have been the heart and soul of this football team for four years. It’s been a pleasure to coach those guys.”
Blacklick Valley coach Rich Price is hopeful that his squad will use the adversity from this contest as a learning experience.
“Windber’s a great team,” said Price. “They have athletes all over the place. We didn’t play well, but we never quit. We learned a lot, and I was happy with how our young guys played in the second half.”
Windber tailback John Shuster rushed for a game-high 146 yards and a touchdown on five carries, while Rambler quarterback Aiden Gray tossed a pair of scoring passes to Keith Charney.
The first of Gray’s touchdown passes came after Dylan Tomlinson picked off the Vikings’ Kolten Szymusiak on Blacklick Valley’s second play from scrimmage. Gray connected with Charney for a 58-yard score, and that combination also produced a 1-yard touchdown pass at the 3:43 mark of the first that made it 28-0.
Shuster evaded several tacklers en route to an 89-yard dash to the end zone on the final play of the first quarter, and Tomlinson added to that advantage with a 44-yard punt return touchdown at the 9:43 mark of the second.
With Windber already substituting, backup running back Jonah Oyler then scored from 20 yards out to make it 49-0.
The Vikings got on the board with a pair of touchdowns before the break. Braydon Brown found Szymusiak for a 5-yard score, and Josh Hessler plowed in from 3 yards out in the final minute of the half.
With the mercy-rule running clock in effect for the entire second half, Windber added two more scores on Luke Hostetler’s 40-yard run and a 1-yard plunge by Colin Marx.