Defense keys Warriors


The New Egypt High School football team won its first two games of the 2010 season with an explosive offense that scored 78 points, powered by Jamel Smith, but it was the Warriors’ defense that led to the team’s third victory, a 20-19 triumph over Palmyra on Oct. 1 in New Egypt.

“A blocked punt and a fumble recovery set up our last two touchdowns,” Warriors coach Luke Sinkhorn said of the fourthquarter surge after New Egypt rallied from a 19-6 halftime deficit.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Dylan Wills blocked a Palmyra punt that spotted the ball on the 16.

Two plays later, Wills rolled left and threw to Ken Massa, who caught the ball at the 5 and ran into the end zone untouched. The scoring play covered 13 yards. Smith kicked the extra point to bring New Egypt to within 19-13 with about 7:00 to play.

Wills had scored the team’s first touchdown on a short run early in the game.

“I definitely felt it turned everyone around,” Wills said of his punt block. “The crowd was silent at halftime when we were down, 19-6. I was afraid we were losing faith, but after that block, we started believing we could win.”

“He blocked the punt and everyone got motivated,” Smith said.

Shortly after the scoring pass from Wills to Massa, Kevin Mason recovered a fumble at the 20 and Smith ran eight yards for his seventh touchdown of the season with 3:00 to play. Smith, who rushed for 93 yards, kicked the PAT for the winning 20-19 score.

“This definitely shows that our team was not giving up, that the team believes in what the coach is teaching us, and the players believe in each other,” said Wills. “This shows that in games where we might be losing, we will fight to the end.”

Sinkhorn said there were no major changes to the defense that shut down Palmyra in the second half, just some minor adjustments. Rigo Morfin, who led the defense with 12 tackles, was encouraged by the comeback.

“It was kind of scary at first because we were not playing in the first half the way we usually do,” said Morfin. “We just picked it up in the second half. If we work together, we can do some good things. We need to believe in ourselves.”

The players’ belief in themselves will be needed on Oct. 8 when the Warriors travel to Willingboro, their third road game in four starts, for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“They are athletic and they have a couple of 300-pound kids on the line and a big tight end/defensive end,” said Sinkhorn. “At any point, they can break an 80-yard run. We’ll have to play good defense.”

Wills and Smith agreed that good practices this week will be the key to the Warriors being in position to win. Two seasons ago, New Egypt won its first four games and then lost the next four, but still qualified for a spot in the state playoffs.

“Definitely 3-0 is a huge advance from last year when we started 0-3. Hopefully we can continue this,” Wills said.

Smith has played a huge part in the team’s success, scoring touchdowns on running plays, pass receptions and an interception runback, as well as handling the extra points and punting.

“I just do it,” Smith said of handling each responsibility of playing in the offensive and defensive backfields, as well as kicking. “I just take it one thing at a time and concentrate on that.”

Smith and Wills agreed that concentrating on one step at a time on the game plan will be vital for the Warriors’ Oct. 8 game against Willingboro.