Wyoming Area was more competitive in its home opener than the season opener.
Two weeks into what is shaping up as a tough season for the Warriors, coach Randy Spencer vowed that the team will keep working – and keep improving.
Missed tackles and blocking issues — blown assignments and a holding call for the game’s most costly penalty — plagued Wyoming Area in a 29-14 loss to visiting Mid Valley Friday night.
“We had some missed assignments. We had pressure off the edge on a quarterback a few times throwing the ball,” Spencer said. “Those are things with inexperience and some different guys working in there.
“As a coaching staff, we’re going to go back to work and it’s on us, as far as going, teaching and re-teaching, to give these kids a chance, as they’re growing, week in and week out, to be successful. We’re certainly committed to that as a staff.”
Josh Gorton carried nine times for 125 yards and two touchdowns to lead Mid Valley. Gorton broke out of a pile when he appeared to be stopped on a 30-yard, first-quarter touchdown that put the Spartans ahead to stay, then brushed off an attempt to push him out of bounds on a clinching, 71-yard score in the fourth quarter.
“(Gorton) doesn’t say much, but he works exceptionally hard,” said Mid Valley coach Dave Rebar, a former Syracuse University defensive lineman and Riverside head coach who picked up his first win at his alma mater.
Wyoming Area had long dry spells offensively, but still had a shot to tie in the fourth quarter.
The Warriors put three first downs together in the same drive for the only time in the game to end the third quarter. They appeared to set up first-and-goal at the 1 on the second play of the fourth, only to be pushed back by a holding penalty. They ultimately gave the ball up on a missed field goal with 9:48 left.
“The penalty right there is a key penalty,” Spencer said. “You push one in from there, you go for two and the game’s on.
“Again, a critical mistake there put us in a position where we tried to get the three to make it a one-score game.”
Three plays later, Gorton went off left tackle on third-and-one, bounced to the sideline and went the distance to open the lead to 15 points.
Wyoming Area needed two big plays to stay within, 22-14, in the first half.
Jeff Skursky ran 39 yards through a huge hole off right tackle on the game’s first play to set up a quick score. A first down on a penalty three plays later was the last of the half for the Warriors, who took a 6-0 lead on Skursky’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Skursky, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound junior tailback, produced more than half the Wyoming Area offense with 96 yards on 17 carries and a catch for nine yards.
“We knew we were going to have to stop him,” Rebar said of Skursky, who also was the game’s leading tackler with 10, including two for losses. “We knew he was going to give us problems.
“You love coaching against kids like that. It’s worth the game. That kid’s going to go many places.”
Mid Valley held the defending District 2 Class 2A champions to minus-21 yards rushing and -1 yard total offense the rest of the half after Wyoming Area’s score 3:53 into the game.
Farrad Condry’s 45-yard interception return and Skursky’s two-point conversion run cut a nine-point deficit to one in the second quarter. Skursky shook off a hit deep in the backfield on the conversion and won a race to the flag at the left corner.
Tyler Shay passed for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, hitting Tyler Collins on a 13-yarder and Dan Wood for a 42-yarder during the second quarter.
The Collins touchdown and a safety when Wyoming Area sent a punt snap through the end zone created a 15-6 lead.
After Condry’s touchdown, Mid Valley used Wood’s score in the final minute of the half to regain control.
Although he was sacked twice, Gorki finished with 38 net rushing yards on 13 carries while going 8-for-13 passing for 52 yards.
Ben Steve and Condry each caught three passes.
Ryan Murray, Matt Dimick and Michael Lumley made consistent contributions defensively. Murray had six tackles and six assists and broke up a pass. Dimick had five tackles, including a sack and another one for a loss, along with an assist. Lumley had four tackles and four assists.
Along with replacing most of its key players because of graduation losses, Wyoming Area is working with a reduced coaching staff throughout the entire football program because of the teachers’ strike.
“We have six teachers that are participating in the strike,” Spencer said. “We certainly understand and respect what they’re doing in support of their careers and their families.
“ … Nobody wants to be here more than they do. I know they were watching somewhere tonight.”