By Rob Potter
ELDRED September 19, 2006 The first of potentially three gridiron meetings this season between the Chester Hambletonians and Eldred Yellowjackets turned out to be a one-sided contest.
Chester grabbed the early lead Saturday afternoon in a non-league game against the host Yellowjackets and did not not look back.
The Hambletonians opened up a 24-6 lead in the first half and went on to post a 36-6 victory.
After forcing Eldred (2-1) to punt on its second possession, Chester (3-0) took over at the Yellowjackets’ 29-yard line. Three plays later, junior quarterback Joe Salthouse connected with junior receiver Darren Mann on a 28-yard touchdown pass to give Chester a 6-0 lead with 5:21 left in the opening quarter.
Senior running back Mike Schmidlein added the two-point conversion to boost the Hambletonians’ lead to 8-0.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Chester converted on fourth-and-inches thanks to a quarterback sneak by Salthouse. The play set up the Hambletonians with a first down at the Eldred 36-yard line.
On the very next play, Salthouse connected with Mann for a scoring strike. Schmidlein again added the two-point conversion as Chester extended its lead to 16-0.
The Hambletonians offense returned to the field seconds later, as an interception by Erik DeGall on Eldred’s first play of its new drive gave Chester possession of the ball at its own 40.
Schmidlein then capped a 12-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Salthouse then kept the ball on an option play to score the two-point conversion, giving Chester a 24-0 lead with 4:34 left until the half.
A fired up Eldred team got on the scoreboard just two minutes later. Nick McCormick returned the Chester kickoff for about 40 yards to set up the Yellowjackets with a first-and-10 at the Hambletonians’ 39-yard line.
Four plays later, McCormick threw a pass to Kojo Williams down the right sideline. Although Williams was covered fairly well, he jumped up and grabbed the ball. He then fell into the end zone to give the Yellowjackets their first points of the afternoon.
Kevin Prunka was stopped short of the goal line on the ensuing two-point attempt, but Eldred had narrowed its deficit to 24-6.
However, two Schmidlein touchdown runs in the third quarter proved to be too much for the Yellowjackets to overcome.
On the second play of the quarter, he turned the corner and outraced the Eldred defenders to the end zone for a 68-yard TD
After a Yellowjackets’ punt, the Hambletonians took over at their own 40. On a third-and-one play, Schmidlein broke through the middle and sprinted 51 yards to the end zone. The TD gave Chester a 36-6 advantage with 8:10 remaining in the quarter.
Schmidlein finished the game with 214 yards on 26 carries. He gained the majority of those yards, 142, in the third quarter.
Salthouse completed 4-of-5 passes for 96 yards and the aforementioned two TDs.
Chester Coach Ron Stover was pleased to get a victory against Eldred, the defending Section IX Class D champion.
“We have a lot of respect for Eldred,” he said. “[Coach] Frank [Kean] does a great job with his team.”
Stover noted that slowing down McCormick, who is the Yellowjackets’ senior quarterback, was a key factor in the contest.
“Nick is a great player,” Stover commented. “You can’t really stop him, but we were hoping to contain him.”
The Hambletonians’ leader was pleased with the performance by his players.
“We did a good job today,” Stover said.
Kean had a lot of praise for the Hambletonians.
“They executed really well today,” he said. “And everything that we talked about in practice this week, like getting low while tackling and wrapping up, they did that to us.”
Kean said that his team will work hard in practice this week and focus on Webutuck. The Yellowjackets will visit Webutuck in a non-league game at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday, September 23.
Note: Chester and Eldred will meet again on Saturday, October 21 in a Class D gridiron contest. That game will be played in Chester and the kickoff is slated for 3 p.m.
There is also that possibility that the teams could meet again in November in the Section IX Class D championship game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston.