Fort Cherry victorious, but will travel for playoffs
Fort Cherry's Koltan Kobrys runs for 82 yards past Chartiers-Houston's Derek Hull for a touchdown in the first quarter of Friday night's game.
McDONALD – Chartiers-Houston’s attempt to play spoiler Friday night didn’t go as hoped, but it did damage Fort Cherry’s playoff situation.
The Buccaneers led by one point with less than a minute remaining and was ready to punt the ball to Fort Cherry when a snap went over the head of junior punter Mike Cushma. The Rangers recovered the ball at Chartiers-Houston’s 10-yard line.
With time running out, Fort Cherry senior quarterback Matt Heslin found senior running back Koltan Kobrys open in the end zone for the score to give the Rangers a 33-26 victory, clinching a share of the Black Hills Conference title.
“We’re in the playoffs,” Fort Cherry head coach Jim Shiel said. “We’ve been preaching to the kids all week to not take this opponent lightly. They did, and it won’t happen again.”
Fort Cherry needed a victory by at least eight points to get a home game in the playoffs. That didn’t happen, so Fort Cherry will have a road playoff game. The Rangers will find out who they play at Monday’s WPIAL pairings meeting.
“We’ll have to play a tougher, higher-seeded team, but you’ll have to play the best to get to Heinz Field in the title game,” Shiel said. “We’ll just have to play those teams sooner than later.”
On the Rangers’ third play from scrimmage, Kobrys broke a gang tackle in the backfield, spun to his left and scampered for an 82-yard touchdown. Fort Cherry’s high-powered offense was on track. Kobrys finished the game with 201 rushing yards, two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.
“I hope there were some scouts in the stands, because if there is any doubt that kid has heart, it should be erased,” Shiel said. “He’s a gamer, and he gives you everything he has.”
Chartiers-Houston needed a victory over Fort Cherry and a California victory over Brentwood to get into the playoffs. That didn’t happen.
Buccaneers senior wide receiver Miles Williamson caught three touchdown passes, which had the Rangers on their heels in the second half.
The Rangers were marching downfield with less than two minutes remaining in the game, when senior quarterback Matthew Heslin found senior tight end Zach Dysert for a 44-yard reception. On the following play, Chartiers-Houston forced Heslin to fumble.
Fort Cherry led 25-20 with five minutes remaining in the game after a Kobrys eight-yard touchdown run, but the Buccaneers came back. Chartiers-Houston freshman wide receiver A.J. Myers caught a 32-yard touchdown pass to take the lead, 26-25.
The Rangers started the ensuing drive at their own six-yard line.
The Rangers scored on the first drive of the second half; narrowing the deficit to one point, but Williamson and the Buccaneers’ passing game responded. Chartiers-Houston senior quarterback Kaleb Susko threw a desperation pass to Williamson on a fade route, who twisted his body around and leapt over Kobrys for the 19-yard touchdown and a 20-13 lead.
The Buccaneers stifled Kobrys in the second half—making Fort Cherry’s offense one-dimensional. The matchup difference was apparent on Friday night, as the Rangers used Kobrys, a 5-8 player, in coverage against the 6-4 Williamson.
With the Rangers trailing 14-7 late in the second quarter, Fort Cherry senior quarterback Matthew Heslin took the snap handed the ball off to Kobrys, who took four steps to his right and found freshman wide receiver Scott Miller wide open for a 42-yard touchdown pass. The score narrowed the Buccaneers lead to one point after a missing the extra point.
“It doesn’t matter,” Kobrys said of the home playoff game. “We wanted to get into the playoffs in only our coach’s second year. We’ll need to show more integrity and determination if we’re going to make a run.”