Forced into starring role, Brock Wilkins carries Kiski Area past Shaler

Friday, October 16, 2020 | 10:24 PM

After two successful weeks of filling in for standout Kenny Blake at running back, Brock Wilkins was ready to go back to his role as a lead blocker Friday night. When Blake went down with an injury on his first carry, Wilkins was thrust right back into the spotlight.

And once again he shined bright.

Wilkins scored four first-half touchdowns and Kiski Area rolled to its first Class 5A Northeast Conference victory, 55-22, over Shaler at Dick Dilts Field.

“It’s always nice to contribute, but our coaches do a great job preparing us throughout the week, so I have to give it up to them,” Wilkins said. “Our line did great. They cleaned everything out for me up front and left me one on one with the safety. I told them if I get tackled one on one by a safety, then I should head to the sideline.”

Blake, an Albany recruit, missed the last two weeks due to an ankle injury. He had a 10-yard run on the second play of the game Friday but was injured and had to be helped to the sidelines. He did not return.

Wilkins took over during the Cavaliers’ opening drive of 11 plays that lasted six minutes. He capped it with 3-yard touchdown run.

From there, the Cavaliers (2-3, 1-3) took advantage of several miscues by Shaler (0-6, 0-6).

A failed fake punt attempt set up the Cavaliers inside the Titans’ 40 and Wilkins went to work again, carrying the ball a half-dozen times, including a 5-yard score.

Wilkins added scores on 10 and 7 yards in the second quarter. He also made an impact on defense, tackling Shaler punter Josh Miller after a bad snap.

Wilkins, who leads the team in tackles, was banged up on the play. He sat out the second half for precautionary reasons and finished with 16 carries and 88 yards.

“Brock will do anything we ask of him,” Kiski Area coach Sam Albert said. “He’s a monster on defense, he calls all our signals out on defense, and he runs the ball extremely well on offense. We were so excited to get Kenny back, and then he gets hurt … but I was proud of our kids, especially up front. They controlled them on both sides of the ball.”

The botched punt set up the Cavaliers at the Shaler 30, and they quickly turned the good field position into points. Kiski Area quarterback Lebryn Smith found a wide open Dylan Hutcherson in the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown in the final minute of the first half. With Cody Dykes’ extra point, the Cavaliers took a 35-0 lead into halftime, which invoked the mercy rule for the final two quarters.

“This was a real team victory,” Wilkins said. “Everyone contributed and played well together. Hopefully we can improve on it and give (Pine-Richland) the best shot anyone has given them in this conference.”

Smith, a sophomore, was 10 for 17 passing for 175 yards. He had a key 18-yard strike to Calvin Heinle that converted a fourth-and-6 at the Shaler 40.

“Lebryn has a skill set that is unbelievable,” Albert said. “Once he gets that little bit of confidence, the sky’s the limit.”

Shaler scored all three of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Keenan Smetanka connected with Brandon Rossi on a 56-yard score two minutes into the fourth. Smetanka found Dylan Schlagel for a 17-yard touchdown pass with five minutes remaining. He then connected with Phil White for a 30 yard score in the final two minutes.

Smetanka, a freshman, took over for Rossi at quarterback to start the third quarter and went 11 for 19 for 201 yards.

There was a 20-minute power outage during halftime. During the delay, the Kiski Area marching band waited patiently on the field in the dark and played its set once the field lights came back on.

Jerin Steele is a freelance writer

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