N.S. star earns MVP
SCHUYLKILL HAVEN - North Schuylkill's Ethan Motsney scored two touchdowns and earned the Terry Case North MVP Award, leading the pass-happy North to a 35-21 victory over the run-happy South in the 26th annual Schuylkill County Senior All-Star Game Tuesday night at Schuylkill Haven's Rotary Field.
With a roster of big-armed quarterbacks and speedy receivers, the North used a quick-strike offense and a bunch of big plays to earn the victory.
Led by quarterbacks Chris Palubinsky of Shenandoah Valley, Corey Quick of Marian and Patrick Duvigneaud of Jim Thorpe, the North had eight plays of 24 yards or more, including three for touchdowns.
That style was enough to outlast a South squad that featured a stable of running backs and a wall of big, strong linemen. Using a ground-oriented attack, the South rushed for 308 yards in the losing effort with Blue Mountain's Justin Gilfillan (11-144) and Minersville's Chris Murphy (15-109) both running for more than 100 yards.
Motsney, who scored on passes of 24 and 25 yards from Duvigneaud, said the South's size and style made them formidable.
"I have to commend them, they had a big, tough team," he said. "We used a lot of quick drives that helped us score. It takes a load off our linemen."
The annual senior showcase, moved last year to the day before Thanksgiving, had its usual allotment of memorable events and fitting tributes.
The North and South traded scores for the first half until the North's big plays were too much for the South to handle.
With the score tied at 14 with 1:25 left in the first half, the North put together a two-play, 35-second drive to take the lead for good.
Duvigneaud, who hadn't played to that point, started the drive with a 39-yard draw. On the next play, Duvigneaud drew in the defense and dropped it off on a screen to Motsney, who raced through the South defense for a 24-yard touchdown that put the North up 21-14.
"Coach told me when they put me in we were going to run the QB draw," Duvigneaud said, referring to North coach Nick Sajone of Shenandoah Valley. "Motsney made a couple of guys miss and had a nice run. I just dumped it off.
"We knew we could score if we did what we had to do. We had confidence in our coaches that the plays we were going to run would work."
The North upped its lead to 28-14 on its first possession of the second half on another screen, this time from 25 yards out.
"It was the same play," Motsney said. "I come over from the right side to the left side, I saw a seam and I hit it and scored. There was very good blocking."
In addition to Gilfillan and Murphy, Pottsville's Mike Wythe (7-37) and Tri-Valley's Blake Bowman (7-36) also had some key runs. The South ran the ball 45 times and threw it just eight, with only one completion.
"It was nice having the numbers we had with linemen," South coach Pat Mason of Minersville said. "We had some real quality guys up front. I thought our best chance to win the game was by using a power style."
In the first half, that strategy worked as a 31-yard run by Gilfillan and a 12-yard run by Murphy offset a 2-yard TD run by the North's Jake Love and a 36-yard bomb from Quick to Jim Thorpe's Mike Harleston.
After Motsney's two touchdowns, however, the South couldn't quite catch up. Gilfillan added a 69-yard TD run in the third quarter, but a fourth-quarter scoring run by Palubinsky sealed it for the North.
"I had a really good time coaching this team," Mason said. "It was a great group of kids, and exciting group.
"This was a good game. It was a high-scoring affair and that was fun for the fans, fun for the players, fun for everybody."