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.