HALFWAY—The eighth-graders of the Washington County Junior Football League got one more chance to show off their skills in Sunday’s Grad Games, held at Martin L. “Marty” Snook Memorial Park.
City rallied to edge Williamsport 15-13 in the first game, while the East scored early and held on for an 8-6 defeat of the West in the second game.
Williamsport scored first in the opener as Bryce Ruppenthal of the Williamsport Bears ran around right end for a 51-yard quarterback keeper in the first quarter. City tied the game at 7 in the second on a 5-yard rush by Corey Hart of the Hagerstown Giants. After a sack and forced fumble by Jared Lowman (Williamsport Vikings), Ruppenthal recovered the ball and returned it 30 yards to give Williamsport a 13-7 lead at halftime.
In the fourth quarter, City was stopped at the goal line on fourth-and-1 for a turnover on downs, which would prove to be a blessing in disguise. City forced a safety to get within five points, and Hart returned the ensuing free kick 54 yards to paydirt for the deciding score. Malik Carey scored the two-point conversion run to put the game away.
“We’ve got great kids. This wasn’t bad for almost no practice,” said City coach Phil Johns. “Don’t give me the credit, give them the credit. I wish I had them all year long. This is a championship group of kids.”
Points were at a premium in the second game, as the East and West combined for eight turnovers in the first half. The East, however, broke through in the waning minutes of the second quarter when Smithsburg Jets running back Devon Robinson scampered 68 yards for a touchdown, capped off by a two-point conversion run by Cole Huntzberry.
West scored in the third quarter on a 38-yard fumble return by Colton Aaron of the Clear Spring Chargers, but a failed two-point conversion proved to be the difference.
“This is a nice sendoff for these kids. The Grad Games are important, as many of these kids have played in the WCJFL for six years. For many of them, their football careers are already over,” said East coach Darren Deffenbaugh. “I think the (recent rainy) weather prevented our offense from jelling, and I know the West side had the same issues to deal with. Good defense on both sides. You can always count on coach (Joe) Aaron to have his kids ready to play.”