Everyone on the Keystone Oaks football team remembers Sept. 23.
Sto-Rox (8-2) senior quarterback Josh Jenkins threw for three touchdowns, and the host Vikings recovered three fumbles for touchdowns on the way to a 52-0 victory.
The two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Friday in the WPIAL Class 2A quarterfinals.
“The team has been looking forward to this rematch ever since,” Keystone Oaks coach Steve McCormick said. “We wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Same place, same time. We are excited to get another crack at them. We felt that was our worst game as a team. We have some stuff to prove.”
Third-seeded Sto-Rox enters the game on an eight-game win streak, including a 29-0 win against Riverside in the first round of the playoffs. Keystone Oaks (9-2), the sixth seed, has reeled off six consecutive wins.
The Golden Eagles played six games this year that were within two scores.
“We have a resilient group of kids, and they have just found ways to win games,” McCormick said. “That is what a special team does. They find ways to win games when they are not playing their best or when they have some adversity coming their way. We can win games in a lot of different ways. We are excited for the rematch against Sto, and we will see what happens from there.”
One of the most dynamic athletes on the field Friday will be wide receiver Clinton Robinson. The 6-foot-1 junior has hauled in 42 passes for 511 yards and toted the ball 34 times for 284 yards, totaling 11 touchdowns.
“He’s still realizing his potential,” McCormick said. “Believe it or not, he can throw the ball a little bit, too. Obviously we know he can run it, he can catch it, he can return punts and kickoffs, but no one gives him the opportunity because they don’t kick to him. That says a lot about a kid. He is a special kid that can win you games in different ways. He is able to understand the different concepts and where he fits in.”
Add to him two strong seniors in the backfield, and it is easy to see why the Golden Eagles like their chances. Senior quarterback Nick Buckley has completed 116 of 168 passes for 1,436 yards with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has carried the ball 52 times for 129 yards and five more scores. Senior speedster Shawn Reick has been a menace on both sides of the ball. In the running game, he has 180 carries for 1,150 yards, and in the air he’s grabbed 23 passes for 295 yards. He has 14 total touchdowns.
“Nick is a two-year starter for us, and Shawn basically is too,” McCormick said. “They just have a good chemistry together. They help each other out with checks and different coverages and things like that. They have been a good pair together.”
The Golden Eagles have scored 291 points on the year and allowed just 172. A big part of that is the ground game, which is powered by the big guys up front.
“Our offensive line is one of the smartest group of kids that I have been around,” McCormick said. “They question things. They understand the game. It is such a relief for me to have guys like that. They are like coaches on the field with Christian Flaherty, Ben Hrivnak, Damian Szuch up front that are just smart kids that understand the game. They can make pass protection changes on the fly. They have been doing a great job.”
McCormick knows this time around the game against Sto-Rox will go much differently.
“We need to believe in ourselves,” he said. “I believe in our team. We just have to go out and play with confidence. Not afraid to make any mistakes, just go out and play and have fun. Whatever happens, happens.”