C/S/P wraps up No. 1 seed in Class C with 26-0 shutout
SHERMAN — Clymer/Sherman/Panama had a somewhat convoluted path to Class C’s No. 1 seed heading into Saturday afternoon’s game.
Win by at least 20 points.
And hold the Hillbillies to fewer than six points.
John Swabik scored a pair of second-quarter touchdowns and the Wolfpack stifled the Nick Whitfield-led Fredonia attack all afternoon en route to a 26-0 Class C South title-clinching victory at Harry S. Brosius Field.
C/S/P’s reward for such dominance? A Section VI semifinal date with undefeated Southwestern next Saturday afternoon in Clymer.
“I’m super-psyched because now we get to play them at home,” Swabik said of the Trojans. “We are going to prepare our butts off.”
Filling in as the Wolfpack’s primary running back with Connor Cooper injured, Swabik made the most of his opportunity running 24 times for a career-high 219 yards.
“We know that John can do just about everything for us,” C/S/P coach Ty Harper said. ” … We asked John to fill that role today and I thought he did an excellent job.”
C/S/P’s defense actually scored the first points of the game after the Wolfpack offense came up just short of the end zone on a fourth-and-goal from the 8-yard line. On Fredonia’s first play from scrimmage, fullback Matt Lotter was stopped by Keith Gormley and Zach Chase before he got out of the end zone resulting in a safety for the Wolfpack.
“I can’t say enough about our defense,” Harper said. “Week after week the defense just keeps showing up and making big plays.”
After the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, C/S/P took over at the Hillbillies’ 45-yard line and wasted little time adding to its lead. On the second play of the drive, Bishop Kopta found a wide-open Matthew White for a 32-yard touchdown to make it 8-0 after the first of four unsuccessful 2-point conversion attempts by the Wolfpack.
C/S/P added on with 8:03 left in the second quarter as Swabik ran through the middle of the Fredonia defense and then broke to the outside where he received a block from Gormley to spring him 27 yards for a touchdown.
“I thought defensively we kept bending, but didn’t break until eventually we did,” Fredonia coach Greg Sherlock said. ” … That’s one of the best teams that I’ve seen in quite a while.”
Less than two minutes later, the Wolfpack opened up their key 20-point margin when Swabik took a sweep to the left and then raced all the way back across the width of the field before diving into the end zone for a 54-yard score.
“We can hear the other team and the other coaches keying on him,” Harper said. “Everybody expects John to get the ball. The fact that he still makes these plays with the defense keying on him and knowing where he is on the field on every play is just a tribute to him and his ability.”
The Hillbillies’ deepest first-half march into C/S/P territory reached the Wolfpack’s 20-yard line with 2:26 left in the second quarter. From there, Lotter was stopped for no gain and Whitfield threw three incompletions to turn the ball over on downs.
Fredonia had a chance to get back into the game early in the third quarter, but back-to-back drives ended on Whitfield interceptions, the first by Swabik at the 23-yard line and the second by White, which the senior returned 36 yards to the Fredonia 24-yard line.
“Matt White might be the most underrated player in the county. He does all the little things right,” Harper said. ” … He was phenomenal today. … Matt’s a special kid.”
Four plays after White’s interception, on first-and-goal from the 4-yard line, Kopta ran in the Wolfpack’s final touchdown of the game.
Whitfield, who has received looks from NCAA Division I programs, went 9 for 26 for 24 yards. The Hillbillies’ longest play from scrimmage on the afternoon was a 38-yard run by Whitfield during the first series of the second half. That drive ended on a fourth-down incompletion from the C/S/P 22-yard line.
“We had too much of an offense. I think we have too many plays. Trying to have Nick do everything for us, we have to get away from that,” Sherlock said. ” … We have a big line. We have a very good back in Matt Lotter who is tough as nails. … It comes to line play and I’m the line coach so that falls squarely on me.”
Running behind an offensive line that dwarfed the Wolfpack, Lotter picked up just 41 yards on 11 carries.
“We know going into most games we aren’t going to be the biggest or strongest. It comes down to technique and heart,” Harper said. ” … Sometimes it comes down to who wants it more.”
With just the top four Class C teams qualifying for the playoffs, the Hillbillies (3-2, 3-2) will begin prepping for the fall 2021 season with many key contributors — including Whitfield — returning.
“I thought we were too young to really compete this year with all of these new kids,” Sherlock said. ” … I was glad just to get five games in. It will make these underclassmen that much better.”
The Wolfpack, on the other hand, have a week to get ready for the Trojans (4-0, 4-0), who have outscored opponents 178-31 this spring.
“We’ve tried not to talk about it because we are focused on who we are playing that coming week. … Now people will get the matchup they’ve waited for,” Harper said. “I have a lot of respect for Southwestern as a program. … We’re going to have to work hard this week to get ready for them.”
NOTES: C/S/P and Southwestern were scheduled to play April 16 at Charles A. Lawson Field in West Ellicott, but that game was canceled due to COVID-19 issues within the Trojans program. … Medina (4-0, 4-0) earned the No. 2 seed and will host Eden/North Collins (4-1, 4-1) in the other semifinal Friday.
FREDONIA 0 0 0 0 — 0
CLYMER/SHERMAN/PANAMA 8 12 6 0 — 26
C/S/P–Safety (Lotter tackled in end zone)
C/S/P–White 32 pass from Kopta (pass failed)
C/S/P–Swabik 27 run (run failed)
C/S/P–Swabik 54 run (run failed)
C/S/P–Kopta 4 run (run failed)