Abington Journal

WVC football: Wilk leads explosive Berwick to opening win over Abington Heights

BERWICK — For nearly eight months, Teagan Wilk and the Berwick Bulldogs have been longing to get back on a football field.

“Since we lost the district championship,” Wilk said. “We’ve all been in the weight room since we lost, wanting to do what we just did today.”

The wait is over.

Wilk ran for one touchdown, caught another and nearly scored two more times on special teams as Berwick erased the torture of last year’s District 2 Class 4A title defeat by torturing Abington Heights 42-0 in the season opener for both at Crispin Field.

“I thought we played pretty well,” Berwick coach Frank Sheptock said. “Very pleased with our physicality. You see the explosiveness in there.

“That’s something that’s very encouraging.”

Nobody gave Berwick a bigger boost than Wilk, who started the scoring with a 33-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to get the Bulldogs rolling.

“Oh man, it was a great feeling there, seeing everybody block for me,” Wilk said. “It wasn’t really me, it was everybody else blocking.”

He later added a 7-yard score on a screen pass to give the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, but his threat as a returner had the Berwick crowd in a frenzy.

As a return man, Wilk plucked away a punt Abington Heights was trying to touch down inside the 5-yard line and appeared to return it 97 yards for a touchdown — before officials ruled he stepped out around midfield and two consecutive penalties on Berwick were assessed.

“I was bummed,” Wilk said, “but that was all my fault. I’ll work on it for next game.”

That was only on offense.

While playing in the defensive backfield, Wilk delivered three crushing hits on receivers, broke up two early passes when the game was close, and frustrated the Comets even more on their one true scoring drive.

Abington Heights moved 52 yards with four first downs to a second-and-goal at the Berwick 4-yard line, but Wilk stepped in front of a Comets pass at the 1-yard line and returned it 11 yards to maintain Berwick’s shutout — and start the Bulldogs on their fifth touchdown drive.

“He’s explosive,” Sheptock said, “and he just shows up. He’s someone we thought we could start to feature in the offense. He’s got great instincts. He’s such a talented young man, wants to be great. He sets the tone in that he’s an explosive player in all three phases. The interception, in that part of the game, it’s a great closer.

“He makes those types of plays for us since he’s been here.”

There were plenty of other big plays for Berwick in an encouraging opener.

Running back Owen Shoemaker, taking over as the team’s main ballcarrier, blasted for 131 yards on 18 carries and went for a 12-yard touchdown burst that boosted Berwick’s lead to 14-0 in the second quarter.

“He’s one of our strongest players and most explosive players,” Sheptock said.

Meanwhile, quarterback Alex Force hit 7 of his 10 passes for 103 yards, including the touchdown toss to Wilk and a game-long 35-yard bomb to Alex Sharkuski — who made a leaping grab between two defenders on the drive that gave Berwick a 35-0 lead.

“I’m proud of Alex’s distribution of the ball and the offense,” Sheptock said of Force.

Then there was freshman Aiden Mason, who took the opening kickoff of the second half back for a 96-yard touchdown return and later scored on a 17-yard run.

Just the kind of performance that wiped away memories of last year’s overtime district title game heartbreak.

“It feels great,” Wilk said. “You want to come out and win your first game like that. It feels amazing.”

Berwick 42, Abington Heights 0

Abington Heights`0`0`0`0 — 0

Berwick`7`14`7`14 — 42

First quarter

B — Teagan Wilk 33 run (Jarret Groshek kick), 1:24

Second quarter

B — Owen Shoemaker 12 run (Groshek kick), 9:09

B — Wilk 7 pass from Alex Force (Groshek kick), 5:17

Third quarter

B — Aiden Mason 96 kick return (Groshek kick), 11:44

Fourth quarter

B — Mason 17 run (Groshek kick), 6:42

B — Peyton Williams 8 run (Misael Hernandez kick), 1:32

Team statistics`AH`BER

First downs`14`15

Rushes-yards`35-12`27-209

Passing yards`152`103

Total yards`164`312

Passing`16-27-1`7-10-0

Sacked-yards lost`4-40`0-0

Punts-avg.`6-28.8`2-33

Fumbles-lost`1-0`1-0

Penalties-yards`0-0`7-80

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING — AH, Noah Braid 18-36, Michael Pusateri 1-7, Lou Natale 3-6, Corey Perkins 1-0, Robby Horvath 2- (minus 1), Conor Newman 2- (minus 2), Shaine Hughes 2- (minus 3), Jadd Khalil 1- (minus 8), George Tinsley 5- (minus 23). BER, Owen Shoemaker 18-131, Teagan Wilk 2-33, Aiden Mason 2-24, Blake Maurer 2-10, Peyton Williams 1-8, Jacob Betz 1-5, Alex Force 1- (minus 2).

PASSING — AH, Tinsley 16-27-1-152. BER, Force 7-10-0-103.

RECEIVING — AH, Mike Malone 5-57, Horvath 4-46, Perkins 2-18, Newman 2-13, Tristan Burns 1-8, Pusateri 1-8, Braid 1-2. BER, Wilk 3-11, Alex Sharkuski 2-51, Justin Robbins 1-22, Blaine Cleaver 1-19.

INTERCEPTIONS — BER, Force 1-11.

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By Paul Sokoloski

psokoloski@timesleader.com

Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski