BERWICK — He excelled on special teams, ignited the offense as the game’s leading rusher and even made a sack on defense.
For playoff openers, Evan Klinger did just about everything he could think of to get Berwick a victory, except get in the end zone.
But his game without a personal touchdown to celebrate hardly mattered to Klinger, or the Bulldogs.
Klinger’s 206 all-purpose yards did more than enough to set up Berwick for five offensive touchdowns Friday and Teagan Wilk returned an interception 97 yards as the Bulldogs blasted Wyoming Area, 42-0, in a District 2 Class 4A quarterfinal game at Crispin Field.
“We got one-third of the way there,” said Klinger, noting it will take three victories to win a District 2 title that has eluded Berwick with championship-game defeats during each of his past three high school seasons. “Two-thirds left.”
Klinger went left, right and straight through defenders as he ensured the 9-2 and top-seeded Bulldogs earned a berth in next weekend’s District 2 semifinals at Crispin Field against defending champ North Pocono, in a rematch of last year’s district final.
Klinger was hard to contain, starting with the first time he touched the ball — on a punt which he promptly returned 25 yards. The hard-nosed senior finished with five punt returns for 83 yards, finished as the game’s leading rusher with 98 yards on 9 carries and took a short pass for a 25-yard pickup.
“He’s the most unselfish team player,” Berwick coach Frank Sheptock said. “He’s what this program is all about. He does so many things for us. He’s our leading tackler, our leading rusher — what a great football player. He saw him up his game today, too.
“He’s a young man who’s on a mission.”
From the preseason, Klinger has been very vocal about his big objective of winning a Disrict 2 gold medal. Apparently, he doesn’t care how he gets one.
“I’m just doing whatever it takes to win,” Klinger said. “I don’t care how many touchdowns I get, how many yards I finish with. The only thing that matters is winning and that’s what we did.”
Thanks, in large part, to Klinger.
He brought back his second punt return for 14 yards and, two plays later, put Berwick in the red zone with a nine-yard run, leading to Damon Beckhorn’s 26-yard touchdown run for the game’s first points.
Klinger then opened the second quarter with two runs totaling 17 yards, setting up Owen Shoemaker’s 2-yard touchdown dive for a 14-0 Berwick lead.
Playing defense during Wyoming Area’s next series, a blitzing Klinger came from his linebacker spot and recorded one of Berwick’s three sacks. Then he opened Berwick’s final scoring drive of the first half with a 28-yard burst, leading to Jared Marshman’s seven-yard scoring strike to Joe Norce for a 21-0 halftime lead.
Klinger didn’t stop there. He came out of halftime with two runs covering 32 yards, opening things up for Marshman to hit Alex Parks with a 24-yard scoring strike to cap Berwick’s three-play, 56-yard drive with a touchdown for a 28-0 lead.
“The thing I love about him,” Sheptock said, “as a punt returner, he gets the ball and he’s vertical. It’s challenging, because you have to be willing to do that. He has no fear of running the football, and he does that as a running back, too.”
Then Wilk ran one back, pretty much sealing Wyoming Area’s fate.
The Warriors, trying desperately to get back in the game, took off on a 56-yard drive that reached Berwick’s 6-yard line midway through the third quarter.
But Wilk jumped a quick pass, intercepted it at the 3-yard line, then zipped 97 yards to the other end zone as Berwick ended the suspense by boosting its lead to 35-0.
“It’s funny,” Sheptock said, “Yesterday (Thursday), he texts me, ‘On play 38, who would I have?’ We were watching some film and studying their packages. That play (he intercepted) wasn’t the play, but it was similar. Teagan broke at the right time and he makes the play. Great to see when he puts in the time he does.”
It was the second time Wyoming Area got close to the end zone, only to have Berwick bite down on protecting the shutout.
On the final play of the first half, the Warriors tried a similarly quick hitter from Berwick’s 9-yard line, but Joey Lynn picked off the pass at the 1-yard line to end the threat.
“We just went back to playing Berwick football,” Klinger said. “Back to the way we know how to play.
Berwick 42, Wyoming Area 0
B — Damon Beckhorn 26 run (Ken Marshman kick), 2:49
B — Owen Shoemaker 2 run (Ken Marshman kick), 10:55
B — Joe Norce 7 pass from Jared Marshman (Ken Marshman kick), 0:27
B — Alex Parks 24 pass from Jared Marshman (Ken Marshman kick), 11:08
B — Teagan Wilk 97 interception return (Ken Marshman kick), 5:51
B — Shoemaker 6 run (Ken Marshman kick), 7:15
RUSHING — WA, Marc Minichello 4-14, Dominic Deluca 13-12, Dante Williamson 3-12, Clay Scampi 1-8, Robbie Trottini 1-7, Darren Rodney 1-5, Justin Joseph 2-4, Donovan O’Boyle 3-3, Jacob Williams 1-0. BER, Evan Klinger 9-98, Owen Shoemaker 13-83, Alejandro Lopez 2-26, Jared Marshman 8-23, Damon Beckhorn 2-31, Teagan Wilk 1-5, TEAM 1- (minus 1).
PASSING — WA, Deluca 5-15-2-56, Riley Rusyn 1-1-0- (minus 3), Jacob Williams 0-1-0. BER, Jared Marshman 8-15-1-86.
RECEIVING — WA, Trottini 2-34, Joseph 1-9, Brian Williams 1-8, Darren Rodney 1-5, Jacob Williams 1- (minus 3). BER, Alex Parks 2-34, Joe Norce 2-12, Beckhorn 2- (minus 1), Klinger 1-25, Teagan Wilk 1-16.
INTERCEPTIONS — WA, Deluca 1-0. BER, Wilk 1-97, Joey Lynn 1-32.
Reach Paul Sokoloski at 570-991-6392 or on Twitter @TLPaulSokoloski