MINONK – The Comets’ defense made an opening statement. And Trevor Bolin made sure it wasted little time.
Factoring offensive penalty yardage, Newman held Fieldcrest to negative-16 yards Saturday afternoon.
After Dillan Heffelfinger notched the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs to cap a 12-play, 65-yard scoring drive to open the game, Bolin set the tone for the afternoon.
On Fieldcrest’s first play, Drew Barth put a pass right between the 2s on Billy Moline’s chest.
But Bolin exploded out of his backpedal and drilled Moline the moment the ball arrived, sending the pigskin flying.
“There’s no way he’s catching that ball,” Bolin said. “I’m not letting him catch that ball.”
Two plays later, Bolin broke up another pass to finish off the first of three Fieldcrest three-and-outs in the first half. There would’ve been a fourth, but Bolin leaped to pick off Barth on a deep ball down the left sideline with less than a minute to go in the first.
“That was awesome. Fabulous. Nothing better,” Bolin said.
Less than 2 minutes later, Jake Snow scored the first of his two touchdowns. But the human wrecking ball had just as much fun watching the defense play.
“Every week, I have so much fun watching them,” said Snow, who played safety last season but was forced to pick one or the other because of ankle issues. “Especially those big hits. They get really excited out there, and that carries over to our offense.”
You want a big hit? It would be harder to find a more bone-jarring one than Bolin’s snotknocker on running back Grant Jochums.
Using one of the pages toward the back of their playbook, Fieldcrest rolled Barth right and, just as he neared the sideline, he threw a screen back across the field to Jochums.
Jochums pulled the ball in, but before he could make a football move, Bolin stuck him between the ribs, popping the ball free for an incompletion.
Jochums averaged 146.5 yards per game this season but had 13 yards on eight carries through three quarters. In the fourth, few starters remained in the Newman defense.
It seemed the deeper the Knights went into their playbook, even revealing several wrinkles for the first time this season, the more the Comets impressed their coach.
“Our defense played fantastic,” Newman coach Mike Papoccia said. “Look at all those dipsy-doodle plays they ran, and we were there. They didn’t gain anything on them. And we were out of position for a couple of them. All of a sudden, we were there. I’m just proud as heck of them.”
Brandon Ahlgrim had the third interception of Barth, another leaping snare that set up Snow’s 50-yard Houdini touchdown scamper at the start of the fourth.
Mac Olson and J.P. Neisewander led Newman with eight tackles apiece, and both earned a tackle for loss. Neisewander nearly earned a safety, hauling down Barth for a sack at the half-yard line early in the fourth.
But the backers quickly paid credit forward. As in to the guys in front of them.
“Everyone just did their job,” Olson said. “The linemen controlled the line of scrimmage, and the linebackers had no one on them. They were freed up and got there.”
Any momentum the Knights stood to gain after halftime was muted when safety Nolan McGinn outran fleet-footed Jack McDonough down the right sideline and hauled in a deep ball over his shoulder.
It was the first play of the second half, during which the Knights would gain 18 yards for the second straight half. Eight of their 10 possessions were comprised of three plays or fewer. The Knights’ offense averaged 391 yards per game going in.
“That Newman Central Catholic defense,” Fieldcrest coach Nate Lorton said. “That’s Mike Papoccia defense.”