Pioneers Can't Keep Up With Warriors in Season Opener


Friday August 27th. The start of the high school football season. Not really. After numerous lightning delays, the players were supposed to be allowed on the field for warmups at 8pm. Around 7:55, another lightning bolt struck the ground, causing Warwick's athletic director to throw his hands up in frustration. The game was pushed back to Saturday. 

Take two. High school football is back. In this rendition of Saturday night lights, the back-to-back reigning District III 4-A champion Pioneers facing off against the Warwick Warriors, who went undefeated last season prior to forfeiting the 5-A title game due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The last time these sides faced off was all the way back in 2005, with the Pioneers winning by a score of 34-7. 

After a slow start by both teams, the Warriors struck first, passing their way down the field until Christian Royer punched it in from the goal line to give Warwick a 7-0 lead. The Pioneers responded with a long drive of their own, only to end in a missed 28-yard field goal by Andrew Reidenbaugh. 

On the next drive, a screen pass caught by Cooper Eckert went for a 50 yard gain and brought the Warriors into the red zone. After a dropped touchdown pass, the Warriors settled for a 30-yard field goal to extend their lead to 10. With under 2 minutes left in the half, new starting QB Berkeley Wagner fired a pass downfield to a wide-open Gio Malatesta, who trotted into the endzone for a 72-yard touchdown catch. Just when it looked like the Pioneers were going into the locker room happy, the Warriors answered right back, driving downfield until Eckert made another great grab in the corner of the endzone with 14 seconds remaining. Heading into halftime, the Warriors lead by a score of 17-7. 

The Warriors broke the game wide open in the 3rd quarter, starting with an 80 yard TD reception by Cooper Eckert on the first play of the half. On their next drive, Christian Royer shed away a pair of Pioneers en route to his second TD of the night. Near the end of the quarter, Ryan Fink intercepted a pass from Berkeley Wagner and took it back to the house to extend the Warrior lead to 31. 

The Pioneers mounted somewhat of a comeback in the 4th quarter, starting with a leaping TD grab by Beau Heyser after a 61 yard gain on the ground from Carson Coleman. Not to be outdone (by himself), Heyser made an absolutely ridiculous one-handed TD grab on the next drive to suddenly make it a two-score game. The comeback ended there, with Eckert recording another TD grab before the Warriors would win the game by a score of 45-22. 

The Warriors won't have much time to prepare for their next matchup, as they take on Central Dauphin East on Thursday. The Pioneers lose their first regular season game in almost 2 years but look forward to hosting the Penn Manor Comets next Friday. The Comets pulled off a shock win over Conestoga Valley Friday night. 

By Logan Moyer, LS News reporter
Photos by Logan Thompson, LS News photographer

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