A Learning Experience
Hanover Rhinos linebacker Josh Dolheimer (34) separates a Harrisburg Sharks receiver from the ball during an AFA playoff game on June 6, 2015. Photo Credit- Ursula H. Yost.
This is an article I wrote for the Hanover Evening Sun last June 6th, following the Hanover Rhinos’ first-round playoff game at Harrisburg:
“Last weekend, the Harrisburg Sharks helped the Hanover Rhinos into the playoffs by collecting a forfeit win over the Carroll County Cannons.
This week, the Sharks were not in a giving mood, ending the Rhinos season by beating them 51-7 in the AFA Northern Conference semifinals.
A disastrous 13-play stretch just before halftime proved to be the undoing for the Rhinos.
Harrisburg put up 27 points, aided by two turnovers, to blow open what had been a close game.
“This season definitely had its ups and downs,” Hanover head coach and owner Adam Bostian said. “At the end of the day, we still made the playoffs. If you made the playoffs, it’s a successful season.
Bostian has expressed his intentions to move back to being solely the owner next season, and the team had several candidates for the head coaching position lined up.
However, on Saturday, Bostian delivered one last moment of play-calling magic in the second quarter.
Trailing 14-0 after a blocked punt turned into a Harrisburg touchdown early in the second, the Rhinos offense was thrown right back into the fray.
A less than smooth handoff between quarterback Chase Scharf and fullback Jeremy Knaub caused the first play to go for a loss.
Then, Cory Brown threw Juwan Fitchett for a two-yard loss on Scharf’s first completion of the game to make it 3rd-and-13.
What Bostian drew up next was golden.
“We basically went to a formation where we put a guy in motion because we knew the defense would slide over and leave Jay Collins 1-on-1,” Bostian said. “from there, it was just about our best receiver running and catching the ball.”
“I executed a flat slant, and I saw the defender bite,” Collins said, ” So I just bounced it outside, and got open.”
Despite Collins’ work, Scharf still had three defenders in his face immediately after the snap.
As they chased him like dogs after a T-bone steak, Scharf did the only thing he could do-evacuate the pocket as fast as he could.
Back pedaling, he lofted an accurate ball off he back foot.
“All game, I had guys in my face,” Scharf said. “That play, I just had to trust Jay. I threw it into the area I knew he would be.”
Collins had already beaten his man, and just waited for the ball to come down at the 35.
Scharf never saw the catch or the touchdown.
Reminiscent of Keanu Reeves in the Replacements, he was knocked flat on his back as soon as he released the pass.
“That was a hero play,” Bostain said with a smile.
Collins caught the ball and outran the defender, diving in to the end zone just ahead of him for a score that breathed life into the Rhinos’ effort to win.
“I really only knew he scored when the crowd went crazy,” Scharf said. “That was a big-time play. that put us right back in the ball game.”
“If it wasn’t for my quarterback, that wouldn’t have happened,” Collins said.
Harrisburg answered immediately.
Dominating on the ground, the Sharks broke off runs of 8, 21, and 20, along with a 15-yard penalty on the Rhinos to move to the Hanover 16 in just 3 plays.
Scott Moore took the ball the rest of the way on a reverse, scoring the touchdown behind a block from Steve Stiles.
“We are a smash mouth team,” said Harrisburg head coach Corey Jett. “Other teams are finesse, and they don’t like blocks coming at them play after play.”
This result was much different than Harrisburg’s 12-0 win over the Rhinos in the regular season.
“When it’s warm and we’re on turf, it’s going to be (expletive) near impossible to stop us,” Jett said.”