By Agostino D’ancona
The Salisbury varsity football team traveled to Southern Lehigh Friday, 11/6/15 for their last regular season game. Going into that game, Salisbury was sitting in the third seat for the District 11 class AA playoffs with a record of 6-3 and was going to play next Friday against Northwestern, at Northwestern. With a record of 7-2, Southern Lehigh was not qualified for the District 11 class AAA playoffs, but a win over Salisbury could help them in the seating of the Eastern Conference playoffs and get a win at home.
This game had more significance because Salisbury and Southern Lehigh are rivals who have played for the infamous helmet. The helmet is a trophy that stands about two to three feet tall and has plaques on the base dating from 1970 to 2014 with the scores and winner of each game. On top of the base is a head statue with a 1940’s style helmet sitting on it.
Although for many years it may not have seemed like a rivalry game, the Falcons were a different team this year. Southern Lehigh historically had a good football program and were used to winning the helmet, but the Falcons, led by head coach Andy Cerco, are turning their program around. Heading into that week, most of the players said they took it like any other week and practiced just as hard as they would have for any other game. Going into the game, the Falcons felt confident in their ability to play at a high level but were a little nervous.
Southern Lehigh started to move down the field pretty well but were stopped by an intentional grounding call which forced them to punt. On that punt, Devin Irwin was there to return it and did just that. He returned the punt to set up the Falcons’ offense comfortably on Southern Lehigh’s side of the field. The offense came out and scored on its first drive with a pass from quarterback Tevon Weber to wide receiver Mason Donaldson. The Falcons had come out and scored the first points of the game, feeling extremely confident and less nervous after, but knew they needed to come out and stop Southern Lehigh’s offense.
Going into the locker room at halftime with the score being 7-3, the Falcons felt great, but had been in this position before. They knew they had to come back out and play defense and let the offense score some more points. The game went back and forth until finally, with 2:44 left in the game, Southern Lehigh had scored to go up and make it 20-17. The offense felt they had enough time to score and go ahead to possibly end the game and go home with a win. The Falcons had a tough time trying to get a first down on that drive and before you knew it, it was 4 and 13th on their own 25 yard line with about 1:44 go.
On that final stand, Falcons’ quarterback Tevon Weber alluded defenders and escaped the heavy pass rush to convert a first down with a 35 yard bomb to CJ Wittman. On that play Tevy was tripped and fought to stay up will his forearm and knees had hit the ground. Most refs would end the play there but the ref in that game didn’t. Was it luck for the Falcons, or did the ref miss a huge call? After that the Falcons kept moving the ball, they finally scored with Tevy fighting to stay up while he was dragged down by a Southern Lehigh defender on his back. He flicked the ball to Nick Sikora, who ran through 4 defenders to score and give the Falcons the lead, 24-20 with 44 seconds to go.
Going out on defense the Falcons knew they still had to play hard because the same thing could happen to them. They stopped the Spartans and won the game to finish the season 7-3. Salisbury hasn’t had a winning season since 2006, and haven’t made district playoffs since 2009. They also hadn’t won the helmet since 2010, but this year they changed all that. What’s even better to them is that they get to keep the helmet for good because Southern Lehigh will be moving to a different league next year.