Season openers are a great time to test new talent, check team chemistry and iron out any early season miscues. Council Rock North accomplished all three tasks in its opening 27-14 loss to West Chester East.

Last season North defeated West Chester East 14-13 in the opener but went on to lose their next nine games. This year’s squad appeared determined to reverse that record.

The Indians took the opening kickoff and started a crisp march downfield. Behind the blocking of returning lineman Max Hipple, Jonathan Xiong and John Vanderslice, the Rock moved deep into the Vikings territory. Robbie Ranelli spearheaded the drive breaking of a 23- yard run.

When the Indians failed on a fourth down conversion West Chester went to work. Behind their swift running backs Kyle Cichanowsky and Pierre Marchant, the Vikings staged a twelve play touchdown drive that ended with Cichanowsky scampering the last 12yards.

The Rock was not about to roll over. Facing a third and seven at the Vikings 37-yard line quarterback Jon Kane went to work. The senior signal caller took the snap from center, rolled to his right, eluded a tackler, scooted to his left and scampered 37 yards to paydirt. The play brought on a rousing “Johnny Football” chant from the appreciative hometown fans.

The Rock defense then rose to the challenge and held West Chester to two straight three-and-out series. Highlighting the second defensive stand was a sack by newly converted defensive tackle John Vanderslice. With the Vikings facing a third and nine situation, Vanderslice muscled his way into the backfield to nail quarterback Ryan Cassidy.

Unfortunately, first game miscues cost the Indians when they fumbled the ball on their own 15yard line. Ryan Cassidy was quick to gain revenge for being sacked when he hit Jack Scott with a 9-yard scoring toss, giving the Vikings a narrow 14-7 advantage going into halftime.

West Chester extended their lead on the opening drive of the second half. Kyle Cichanowsky broke several tackles and darted all the way to the Indians nine-yard line. Cassidy finished off the scoring drive hitting Mike Gray with a touchdown pass. The Vikings then seemed to ice the victory when Tim Clifford picked off an Indian pass and returned it 55 yards. Pierre Marchant followed up, scoring on a 15-yard run with 1:46 left in the third quarter.

Showing real heart, the Indians refused to submit. Jon Kane mixed in some timely passing with key runs to take the Indians to the Viking’s six-yard line. From there Tim Gibson bulled his way into the endzone to narrow the margin to 27-14.

The first half fumble and second half interception proved to be the Rock’s undoing. Other than those two mistakes, they statistically matched their opponent yard for yard. The Indians recorded 11 first downs to 9 for the Vikings. They outrushed West Chester 174 yards to 163. They had 30 yards in penalties to 23 for the Vikings. Tellingly enough five of North’s six penalties were for false starts, offsides or delay of game.

Game hero for the Indians was Jon Kane who certainly lived up to his “Johnny Football” billing. When not executing option plays he was eluding would be sackers. Kane finished the night with 76 rushing yards on 12 carries. He completed 6 of his 10 passes good for 69 yards.

Tim Gibson who rushed for 55 yards and Robbie Pinelli with 40 yards helped the Rock accumulate 177 total yards on the ground. Evan Mancinelli was the leading receiver hauling in three passes for 24 yards.

The Rock obviously has the talent and chemistry to have a strong 2018 campaign. They just need to eliminate the costly mistakes.

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