CLARKS SUMMIT — The Abington Heights football team had a lot of motivation to earn a win Sept. 9.
The seniors were recognized prior to the game and head coach Joe Repshis was one victory shy of a career milestone.
After an inauspicious start, the Comets recovered to defeat West Scranton, 21-7, in a Lackawanna League Division 1-2 crossover game as Repshis earned his 100th career win at the school.
West Scranton grabbed a 7-0 lead, just 17 seconds into the game, on a 47-yard touchdown run from Kevin Williams.
Abington Heights’ defense held West Scranton off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest.
Two plays by Corey Perkins swung the momentum of the game in Abington Heights’ favor.
First, the sophomore intercepted a pass from West Scranton quarterback Jake Ciullo in the end zone to end one drive. Then, Perkins hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Comets quarterback George Tinsley, on a fade pattern, to cap the next one and tie the game with 8:32 left in the second quarter.
Tinsley also connected with running back Kaleb Sherman for 23 yards and wide receiver Trey Koehler for 19 during the 10-play, 80-yard drive.
“We opened up our passing game,” Tinsley said. “We have Trey and Corey out there; they are very athletic and were able to make plays. I knew (Corey) was going to be able to catch it because we’ve been repping it all week.
“We did it for the seniors and we definitely wanted to get coach Repshis’ 100th win in the Pit.”
Repshis always stresses the importance of all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — and the Comets cashed in on the second-half kickoff.
Koehler fielded the ball and at his own 15-yard line and burst through a seam up the middle of the field, untouched, on his way to a 85-yard touchdown.
“Special teams is one-third of the game, and it’s a huge third of the game,” Repshis said. “We emphasize that as much as offense and defense. We had great blocking and Trey is a very good athlete with great speed, and he was able to return the ball for a score. It was a huge play, at that point in the game, to give us some momentum.”
West Scranton (0-3) nearly answered on the following possession, but Williams, who rushed for 238 yards on 31 carries, was stopped four yards short of a first down at the Comets 5-yard line with 5:44 left in the third quarter.
The Invaders moved the ball inside the Comets 20-yard line, again, to start the fourth quarter, but Abington Heights defensive end Mike Malone sacked Ciullo for an 8-yard loss on fourth down to end West’s scoring threat.
“Our guys were resilient and made plays,” Repshis said. “When we had to make a stop, we found a way and did it.”
Sherman gained 88 of his 109 yards, including 42 on a touchdown run that gave the Comets a 21-7 lead with 10:32 left in the fourth quarter, in the second half.
The junior running back believes the win will serve as a springboard for the rest of the season.
“I feel like the momentum is going to carry us through the year and keep us going,” Sherman said.
Repshis deflected the praise to those who have been along for the journey when asked about the significance of his 100th career victory.
“I’ve had the good fortune to be the head coach for the past 13 years,” Repshis said. “The administration has been very supportive, my family has been very supportive, and I’ve had great coaches who dedicated themselves to helping the guys develop as football players and young men. The players have practiced hard every day and put in work during the offseason. As a coach, that’s all I could ever ask of them.”
Abington Heights (1-2) will travel to play Hazleton Area in a non-league game at 7 p.m. Friday.
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.