Above, Wyoming Area fullback Matt Kintz runs through a big hole behind the blocking of lineman Jake Smith (69) during the Warriors victory over Meyers on Friday night in Wilkes-Barre. Below left, Ahmad Bouie is upended by a Meyers defender, but the senior tailback was still able to get into the endzone for the Warriors. Below right, freshman kicker AJ Lenkaitis boots an extra-point as Nick O’Brien holds for Wyoming Area. Lenkaitis kicked his first career field goal later in the game.photos by tony callaio
Nick O’Brien and is getting used to spending a lot of time in the endzone.
However, it wasn’t on offense that the Wyoming Area all-purpose back dazzled fans on Friday night. Rather it was defense and special teams that O’Brien used to steal the show as he and his Warrior teammates were able to shutdown the Meyers offense on their way to a 44-17 victory in a Wyoming Valley Conference Division 2A game on the turf at Wilkes-Barre Memorial Stadium.
O’Brien scored four times, twice on offense and once on defense and special teams, as the Warriors jumped out to a 44-3 halftime lead and then coasted as the Green Machine defense held the Mohawks to just 67 yards in the first half, helping the offense start 7-of-8 possessions in Meyers territory.
"(Nick’s playmaking ability) is contagious," said Wyoming Area coach Randy Spencer. "He’s bringing his teammates with him, and it’s not just him. He’s got a lot of other kids hungry to make plays now and they’ve been able to make some plays and their confidence is growing as well."
As usual, O’Brien got the ball moving for the Warriors early when his first touch resulted in him running for 20 yards into the Mohawk end of the field. From there, he went for six more before Matt Kintz ran for 10 yards to the 11-yard line. Jeff Skursky went for eight, one and one before Kintz lowered his shoulder and plowed his way through a pile and into the endzone for a 1-yard score to put Wyoming Area ahead, 7-0, less than three minutes into the game after the extra-point by AJ Lenkaitis.
With the Mohawks facing a third-and-8 from their own 22, the Meyers’ quarterback Teaguen Labatch dropped back and lofted a pass over the middle. O’Brien was waiting.
The junior defensive back jumped the route and picked off the pass at the 39-yard line. He then raced to his left and blazed past everyone on his way for his first touchdown of the night, giving the Warriors a 13-0 lead with 7:21 left in the first quarter.
Meyers then used a big run by Labatch and a personal foul on WA to dig the ball deep into Warriors territory. But the Wyoming Area defense stood strong and held the Mohawks to a field goal cutting the lead to 13-3.
Starting on their own 42 after a short kickoff, O’Brien dropped the ball into Justin Langdon’s basket on a nice deep post pattern for 28-yards. Two plays later, O’Brien hit Cody Schmitz on a quick out and Schmitz was able to cut it back into the middle going for 17 yards to the 10-yard line.
Ahmad Bouie then capped the drive, taking a pitch to the left, before leaping over a defender and sprinting to the goal line where he took a big hit but was able to fall into the endzone for the score. The two-point conversion was good when O’Brien rolled to his left and walked the ball in, giving the Warriors a 21-3 lead with 2:08 left in the first quarter.
The WA defense forced a turnover-on-downs to start the second quarter, and the offense used six-plays to get the ball to the Mohawk 15-yard line, highlighted by a 28-yard scamper by Bouie. But WA was held to a 32-yard Lenkaitis field goal – the first of the freshman’s young career - pushing the lead to 24-3 with 9:28 left in the half.
The defense again forced Meyers to punt but the offense did not even have to step on the field to score.
O’Brien fielded the punt on the right sideline at the 19 and started sprinting to his left. He got to the edge near the opposite hashmark and when he did, he turned on his burners and started sprinting past helpless defenders. Eighty-one yards later, the Warriors had a 31-3 lead with 5:29 left in the half.
Three minutes later, O’Brien fielded another punt off the bounce at the Mohawk 35-yardline. He used a few good blocks to race down the sideline and Superman dive over a defender into the endzone but he was ruled out at the five-yard line. Two-plays later, lined up at quarterback, O’Brien called his own number from one-yard out for the TDand a 38-3 lead.
The ensuing possession for the Mohawks went backwards and they were forced to punt as the Warrior D was in the backfield on every play. The punt rolled out of bounds at the 20 with 23.6 seconds left, giving O’Brien and the explosive Warrior offense time to do more damage.
The first play saw O’Brien hit Schmitz in the flat and Schmitz picked up some extra yards when he juked the first defender then hit the second with a stiff arm, before being dragged down to the two-yard line. A bad snap to O’Brien forced him to scramble to pick the ball up off the ground before he calmly hit a wide-open Schmitz in the endzone with 6.5 seconds left pushing the lead to 44-3.
The Warriors defense held the Mohawks to back-to-back four-and-outs to start the second half, however the offense turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions and the Mohawks scored on their final two possessions as the Warriors were able to use that big lead to hold on for the 44-17 victory.
"Nick is somebody who week in and week out brings his lunch pale and as athletic and dynamic as he is, he’s always looking for those little things. Offensively he’s been consistent there, you saw a little bit on special teams and defensively also," said Spencer. "Once we got settled in, our kids ran to the ball pretty well and made some plays defensively."