Rhinos vs. Warhawks Preview

2/25: Rhinos vs. Baltimore Warhawks

The Hanover Rhinos look to bounce back from a rough showing at Harrisburg to finish the preseason with a winning record.
The coaching staff will also seek to gain some clarity in some key position battles in the dress rehearsal for the 2017 season.

WHEN & WHERE: Saturday at 3:00 PM, Manheim Adventure Park, 4565 Camp Woods Rd, Glenville, PA 17329.

WEATHER FORECAST AT KICKOFF: 63 degrees and thunderstorms. Precipitation: 99%. Humidity: 68%. Wind: 16 MPH North Northeast.

LAST TIME OUT: The Darkside Defense put another solid performance under its belt, but the offense mustered just 109 yards and no points in a rough-and-tumble game in Harrisburg against the Pennsylvania Pharaohs. A blown coverage in the secondary led to a 62-yard touchdown by former Harrisburg Shark Darius Crenshaw, and the Rhinos (1-1) fell 6-0.

RHINOS’ OUTLOOK: No one knows for sure if there is a battle at the quarterback position, but one thing is for certain- even if Jake Orner starts the season as backup to the expected starter, Chase Scharf, the 23-year old rookie has earned a lot of respect with his 58.8% completion percentage and 71.4 QB rating this preseason. Both seem capable of commanding a huddle, leading the offense, and making all the necessary throws.
One thing that’s not in question is the superstar ability of new defensive tackle Jon Veitch. The ample-sized first-year Rhino was a wrecking ball against the Pharaohs, piling up 10 tackles (9 solo), and 1/2 sack.. He recorded a stop on nearly one-third of the Rhinos’ defensive plays in the game. Rhinos’ defensive coordinator Adam Bostian said he “had heard (Veitch) was capable of dominating like this”, and added that “this was the first time he had seen that from him”.
Defensive end Brandon Nicastro has recorded just one tackle this preseason, but it was a sack, and he has hurried opposing quarterbacks on 4 other plays.
The Rhinos have a multitude of toys to play with on the rest of the defense, too.
They have at least 8 excellent options competing for 4 starting spots in the linebacking core.
Positions in the secondary remain up for grabs as well. Dominic Cotterino has had a pleasant showing during the exhibition slate, and veteran corners Charles Smith and Isaac Tynes are also in the group. Don’t sleep on safety Jack Isennock, who was an AFA All-Star last season after becoming the first player in Rhinos’ history to score two defensive touchdowns in the same season. Rounding out the core are high-motor linebacker/safety David Harden, and explosive hitter Amir Pearson.
The battle for starting center is the one to watch on the offensive line, with Greg Day and newcomer Shawn Washington in the mix, as well as a few others.
As far as preseason stat leaders go, Twon Lyles leads the Rhinos in rushing yards with 31, while Hannibal Flores has 3 catches in each game, and a total of 83 yards.

SCOUTING THE WARHAWKS: Part of the National Public Safety Football League’s second division, the Warhawks are a team made up entirely of policemen and first responders.
The Warhawks love to run the football. Their ground-and-pound attack is led by quarterback TJ Camden. Akeem “Deisel” Nelson paves the way for the ball carriers up front. When Baltimore does throw the football, there’s a good chance it’s intended to go to Dontae Foster.
Trying to match zeroes with Darkside, the Warhawks’ defense is led by 3rd-year veteran linebacker Ryan Costin, and 2nd-year starter Mike Grey at safety.

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Roses & Horns, Episode 3

This is the third part in our best-of-five series between Team Roses and Team Horns.
To recap, Team Roses took a 2-0 lead on a 29-6 win by Adara S. over Adam Bostian, and a 20-14 win by Ashley H. over Dustyn Lauver.
The Roses look to clinch the series win today.

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And that’s it! It’s a clean sweep by the wives and girlfriends of the Hanover Rhinos.

Roses & Horns, Episode 2

In our second edition of Roses & Horns- The Hanover Rhinos Valentine’s Game, we find out who knows Jordan Gardner better. Is it the man who protected his blind side last season, or his leading lady?

The questions:

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In a thrilling matchup, it’s Ashley with the comeback victory, proving that true love sticks around to the very end.

The ladies are off to a good start. Roses 2, Horns 0.

Roses & Horns, Episode 1

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, we decided to find out who knows the men of the Hanover Rhinos better, the people they do battle with on the field, or their gal-pals.
Today, we ask Noah Sneeringer a few personal questions. Then, things get fun. His fiancee Adara and his fellow coach Adam Bostian will try to guess Noah’s answers.
Adara will be competing for team Roses, while Adam will try to earn the victory for team Horns.

Enough talk, let’s get to the action!
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It appears that true love won out in this instance.

For those of you keeping score at home, the Roses lead the Horns 1-0.

Singing the Harrisburg Blues

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Hannibal Flores of the Hanover Rhinos (red jersey) stiff-arms a Pennsylvania Pharaohs’ defender during Saturday’s scrimmage in Harrisburg. Photo Credit- Ursula H. Yost.

Recap                  Boxscore

HARRISBURG, Pa.- Riding high off a lopsided win in December’s Santa Bowl, Saturday’s preseason game didn’t go how the Hanover Rhinos envisioned.

It was a sloppy game featuring fumbled snaps, dropped passes, communication issues, and one glaring blown coverage, but it’s the reason teams play preseason games.

The score didn’t matter, but the Rhinos (1-1 preseason) remained winless all-time in the city of Harrisburg as the Pennsylvania Pharoahs of the ECFA prevailed 6-0.

“We started off good, and then we kind of dropped off at the end,” Rhinos’ defensive coordinator Adam Bostian said. “Guys need to study their playbooks more, because we’re throwing guys in, and they should know what they’re doing. They put in a great effort. The score doesn’t mean anything, it’s a scrimmage. Emotions fly high, it’s football.”

Bostian was forced to step in as acting head coach and offensive coordinator on Saturday due to the absence of head coach Noah Sneeringer. Sneeringer designs and calls all the offensive plays for the Rhinos.

The offense struggled in both facets of the preseason game. Each team was allowed 10 plays to move the ball on its first two possessions, with no regard being given to down-down-and-distance, and the Rhinos didn’t move the ball closer than the Pharaohs’ 11 during that time.

Each team then got three drives under normal game circumstances, and Hanover picked up just 3 total first downs.

“I don’t know the offense, and I’m not worried about it, because I know (when Noah is here) he knows what he’s doing,” Bostian said.

The Rhinos accrued 109 yards on 39 plays, which equals 2.8 yards per carry.

The first drive featured five passes from first-string quarterback Chase Scharf. He nailed Hannibal Flores underneath on the left side for 17 yards on the second play of the game, and then found Dominic Cotterino on the opposite side for 11 yards four plays later.

Twon “Choo Choo” Lyles chugged off right tackle for 13 yards, pushing the ball to the Pharaohs’ 32 late in the series, but a bad snap leading to a 20-yard loss ended the drive.

The Darkside defense took the field, and a new face made a big splash.

Defensive tackle Jon Veitch made 5 tackles on the first defensive series, with 4 of them occurring behind the line of scrimmage.

On play number four, Brandon Nicastro crashed around the left side of the line, causing quarterback Austin Mitchell to tuck the ball and take off.

He didn’t get far.

Veitch burst through the middle of the line and slung Mitchell to the ground for a sack with some help from Adam Day.

Veitch stuffed 3 of the final 4 plays to snuff out the first series.

Hanover took over at its own 20 with second-string quarterback Jake Orner at the helm.

Orner completed his first 5 passes in the contest, but series two was about the rushing attack.

Bruising runner Bernard Jackson made his season debut for the Rhinos, and toted the pigskin 4 times for 23 yards.

On first down, Orner wound up Jackson like a mechanical toy by handing him the football, and then watched him run through a hole on the right side. He executed a powerful spin to break a tackle just past the line of scrimmage, and churned for 10 yards before being cut down by Darius Crenshaw.

Orner rifled a pinpoint pass to Phoenix Russell down the middle for 24 yards, setting up an encore performance for Jackson.

Jackson followed his blocks toward the left sideline on the ensuing play, and was bottled up by a handful of Pharaohs’ defenders after gaining two yards.

However, he wasn’t finished.

Jackson continued to drive his legs, pushing the pile of defenders down the field, and kept gaining momentum as the pile-up became bigger and bigger. The Pharaohs never got him to the ground, and Jackson started to break free, but the play was blown dead after a 10-yard gain.

A loss of 4 yards on a bad snap led to a sequence of piecemeal offensive plays, backing the Rhinos into a corner.

After Orner’s 1-yard completion to Jaton Herder, a Rhinos’ lineman continued to block his man after the whistle, and spirited scuffle broke out around the 30-yard line. Players from both teams raced in to stick up for their teammates and keep the peace as the scrum spilled over onto the Rhinos’ sideline.

“Like I said, emotions do run high,” Bostian said. “It’s an aggressive, physical game, and everybody wants to win. Winning overshadows your job. Sportsmanship is the big thing. I want our guys to stay clean. Do your job, stay clean. Shake the other guy’s hand, that’s fine. Knock him down, help him back up. It’s part of a brotherhood. It’s football.”

Cooler heads ultimately prevailed, and when the game resumed, Hanover needed 30 yards to score on the last play of the drive.

The Rhinos surprisingly ran a draw with Diego Simms. He gave a heroic effort, making like Jackson and carrying a niwt of Pharaohs down the field before being stopped at the 11 yard line.

Simms and Jackson tied for the team lead in rushing on the afternoon with 23 yards apiece.

Veitch continued to terrorize the Pharaohs’ ball-carriers as he racked up stops on the first two plays of the next defensive series.

Brandon Nicastro, who was wearing a prototype of the Rhinos’ 2018 jersey to test out its durability, recorded quarterback hurries on the second and third plays of the drive.

Then, it was time for a familiar face to shine.

After returning from his several month long trip to Europe, Richard Settle suited up for the first time in nearly 9 months.

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Richard Settle (52) and Quincy Noland (10) of the Hanover Rhinos tackle Charrdan Long (blue jersey) while Rhinos’ David Harden looks on in the background. Photo Credit Ursula H. Yost.

The AFA’s third leading tackler from last season recorded two stops, including a tackle for loss to give the Rhinos the ball back.

Receiver Jordan Gardner and lineman Dustyn Lauver each recorded a pancake block on the Rhinos’ first down-and-distance series, but Hanover ceded possession after gaining only 4 yards.

A 17-yard pass completion by Mitchell moved the ball near midfield, but Stefaun Rascoe and Jordan Gardner each made tackles at the line of scrimmage to halt the drive.

Scharf returned, and hit Hannibal Flores for 5 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive. Flores leads the Rhinos in catches (6) and yards (83) this preseason.

Twon Lyles, who leads the Rhinos in rushing yards (31) this preseason, scratched out a yard on 2nd down, but an incompletion and a bad snap curtailed the Rhinos’ 4th drive.

Michael Minetos hurried Mitchell and forced him into an incompletion on the ensuing Pharaohs’ first down. Bashawn McFadden and Veitch combined to stop running back Charrdan Long, setting up 3rd-and-7.

Mitchell dropped back to pass and whipped a deep ball down the right sideline, like he had done unsuccessfully so many other times in Saturday’s game. This time, receiver Darius Crenshaw was streaking down the field, all alone. The former Harrisburg Shark ran under the ball and hustled into the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown.

Mitchell’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt was hauled in, but the receiver landed out of bounds, causing the try to fail.

Orner headed back out to the huddle to lead a last-gasp attempt at a comeback, and the Rhinos put together their best drive of the day.

Simms plowed ahead for 4 yards on first down. Fullback Michael Lowery, who had levelled a defender with his shoulder on a short catch earlier in the game, got the next carry.

Lowery performed a hellacious stop-cut behind the line to send a defender to flying by him. He then ran for 7 yards and a first down.

Orner hit Cotterino perfectly in stride on a deep-in route for 16 yards near midfield.

The duo attempted to hook up again on a deep ball down the home sideline on the left, but Crenshaw raced over and dipped his shoulder into Cotterino just as the ball arrived, forcing an incompletion.

A 7-yard run by Jackson was followed by an incompletion to Phoenix Russell along the right sideline, setting up a dramatic 4th-and-3 from the Pharaohs’ 33.

Orner took the snap and fired a quick-out to Flores, who was past the first down marker. Flores snagged the ball for a 5 yard gain, and then stumbled out of bounds, nearly wiping out Rhinos’ statistician George Marinos in the process.

The excitement was short-lived, however, as Orner’s short pass to Amir Pearson along the sideline was picked off.

Several plays later, the Rhinos ownership decided to end the game early because of the increasing level of bad blood.

Bostian mentioned that if it were a regular season game, the Rhinos would have continued to play.

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The Hanover Rhinos football team walks off the field as brothers following Saturday’s game vs. the Pennsylvania Pharaohs. Photo Credit- Ursula H. Yost.