The SteelHawks have become known for their defense, and Saturday night on Embassy Bank Field inside the glorious PPL Center in Allentown it became obvious that the tradition will continue into a new league, and into a new season. The SteelHawks took care of business versus the upstart Philadelphia Yellowjackets 41-28, in a somewhat sloppy game.
It didn’t take long for the defense to make noise: The first score of the game was a strip-sack-fumble TD started by LB Tim Hume and converted by “Big” Larry Ford, to give the SteelHawks a 7-0 lead.
As expected in the early season, the offenses on both sides looked a little rusty. The Yellowjackets were apparently playing without their MVP QB Warren Smith. Steffen Colon attempted to fill in, but was highly inaccurate on the night. Of course, it was difficult given the SteelHawks pass rush lead by Ford and LB Chris Alvarez, but there were open receivers evident on the field for the Yellowjackets.
When the ‘Jackets had an opportunity to keep the game close in the second half, the ‘Hawks defense once again came up big, recording interceptions on each of the final two drives to salt the game away. John Williams and Chris Alvarez were able to come up with the picks.
On offense, Coach Chris Thompson worked in both QBs–starter Clay “CB3” Belton III as well as backup Jake Jablonski. Belton had a pass come out of his hand funny in the first half, resulting in a deep, wobbly interception. With the alternating signal-callers, it was no surprise that neither found his rhythm. However, both made plays and delivered the ball accurately at times, making it clear that the SteelHawks will go into their regular season schedule with two capable passers.
WR Brandon “Ren-dog” Renford began making plays almost immediately in the game. The fact that he quieted as the game went on could have been the result of extra attention from the Yellowjackets defense, as well as Coach Thompson continuing to rotate players onto the field in the non-league game. Fellow wideouts Jerrell Young and Darius Prince were each able to capitalize as they combined for four scores.
Notes From Kram’s Korner:
- It’s a good thing we weren’t lacking for points: Coach Thompson called two straight FB runs in close early on–both failed and the ‘Hawks came away with nothing.
- Neither QB looked to be a terribly effective rusher. It’s a staple in the Thompson offense; he’ll need to call the QB draw a bit more judiciously I think.
- Belton is able to get the ball out quickly, which is a good thing, but a times could have held it another beat to find a better target or allow his wideouts to get deeper.
- It was puzzling to see the big 6’6″ lefty CB3 under center so often–without even a back in the backfield. Unless there was a problem during the week with the shotgun snaps, I see no reason not to have him in the gun on obvious passing downs or in otherwise passing formations. Big QBs are often more comfortable taking the shotgun snap and surveying the field. It could get CB3 into a better rhythm for when to hold the ball and when to let it go.
- The somewhat smaller Jablonski looked better under center, and seemed willing to hang onto the ball a little more, but it cost him on an early fumble which the ‘Jackets returned for a touchdown.
- The game situation didn’t dictate it, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a deep pass early on just to keep the opposing defense honest. Perhaps that’s what the first Belton INT was supposed to be.
- Overall, I think I like Belton as the starter, but I feel better knowing that we have an alternative in case of injury or ineffectiveness.
- The team will need to work on ways to get needed yards on the ground. Either by setting up the QB draw better, so that the signal callers don’t need to break tackles, or by designing running plays better than the two FB runs we saw at the goal line. Converting short yardage and getting the short TDs is still important in the indoor game–not to mention getting the 2-pt when needed. A bubble screen might be another way to accomplish this.
- The kicking game looked just OK. Coverage was good, but they seemed content with squib-type kicks early on. There were no Unos. FG and PAT tries were solid for the most part–a miss or two, but still better than our opposition on the night.
The team heads from the penthouse to the out-h…. OK, well not really. But the “horse barn” at least–home of the Central Penn Capitals this Saturday for their home opener at the Farm Show Equine Arena in Harrsiburg. It’s the first league game for each team.
More Cheryl Pursell photos to follow–and I’ll see you at the arena,