CRESSON – From the onset of Friday’s game at Penn Cambria High School, the offensive line of Westmont Hilltop took advantage of its size up front, running away with a 54-25 victory over Penn Cambria.
The Hilltoppers opened up the game on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that took up almost 7 minutes of the first quarter. Using its double-wing attack offense, or triple option, Westmont Hilltop spread touches to a variety of players. Leading the way was junior Hudson Holbay, as he took the game’s first play for 11 yards, and finished the first drive with 35 yards and the opening score.
Westmont Hilltop coach Pat Barron was quick to praise his line’s play against the Panthers.
“Those guys up front paved the way,” Barron said. “If they have a bad day, we struggle, but they don’t struggle too often.”
Overall, Holbay led both teams with 22 carries for 138 yards and two scores. He was one of five players on the Hilltoppers who ran for at least 70 yards on the day, as they finished the game with 545 yards of offense, 520 of which came via the ground-and-pound style.
“(The) boys did a nice job finding and staying on blocks, fullbacks kicked out, and even the quarterback gets in on the action,” Barron said. “When we run, 10 guys are blocking.”
That is one of the more unique aspects of the offense, with the quarterback handing off or tossing the ball out to the running backs and then turning to find a defensive player to block. Senior Connor Polacek was living up to his role, paving the way for his teammates to find space.
“They learn from a freshman on up,” Barron said. “They’re going to get in there like the rest of the guys, be hard-nosed, and then pick themselves up off the pile … When it’s their time to throw, they have to be ready.”
Polacek was ready on the lone passing play of the game. On their first drive of the second half, the Hilltoppers drove to the 25-yard line of Penn Cambria. It was then, that Westmont Hilltop pulled out the razzle-dazzle.
On a play-action fake, Polacek rolled to his right and found fullback Stefen Dean in the end zone for the score.
Defensively for the Hilltoppers, it was the back end that kept Penn Cambria at bay. The initial drive for Penn Cambria went three-and-out, with the Panthers trying to get their passing game in rhythm. Their next offensive possession had promise, as they drove towards the red zone.
But on a critical third down from just outside the 20-yard line, Quarterback Garrett Harrold’s pass glanced off the hands of receiver Cole Eberhart and into the arms of a diving Polacek.
For all of his team’s effort, Penn Cambria coach Nick Felus was proud of how the team battled.
“We’re blue collar up here on the mountain,” Felus said. “We want to play extremely hard every single play. Our kids are going to fight and scrap until the whistle and we saw that at the end of the game.”