New Bald Eagle Area football coach Jesse Nagle wanted to run an up-tempo offense.
Well, Friday night was a clear showcase of his intentions.
Featuring a spread look with plenty of no-huddle, quarterback run-read options, quick passes to the outside, and a few shots downfield, the Eagles looked sharp against St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy in the teams’ 2016 season opener, pummeling the Wolves 54-0 at Alumni Stadium.
“The kids did well tonight, there’s no doubt about it,” Nagle said, drenched with a Gatorade bath after his first career win. “We’re very pumped and pleased with how the kids were working and getting it done.”
BEA quarterback Tanner Kresovich had quite a start to his senior season, accumulating 152 passing yards, 52 rushing yards and four total touchdowns (two passing, two rushing).
When Nagle took over and installed his high-octane spin, he saw versatility — and potential — in Kresovich.
But to witness his quarterback put it all together in the season’s first game, the former State College assistant and BEA graduate was proud.
“He’s an athlete playing quarterback right now,” Nagle said. “He does a lot of things that kids can’t do when he gets to the edge.”
As for Kresovich himself, he said Friday might have been the best performance of his career — and he didn’t even play in the second half. The Eagles took a 40-0 lead into halftime, and when they came out for the second half, junior Jordan Jones took over quarterback duties.
While friends and family congratulated Kresovich after the game, the dual-threat gunslinger credited his teammates. Running back Hunter Hockenberry helped set the tone, while wide receivers Gage McClenahan, Kael Gardner and Matthew Reese made sizable impacts.
The early scoring started with Hockenberry. The Eagles capped off their second series of the evening with a 13-yard touchdown by Hockenberry. The 5-foot-9 senior took an inside handoff, bounced to the outside and glided into the end zone virtually untouched.
Hockenberry added another touchdown later in the second quarter, carrying three SJCA bodies with him for a 25-yard score. The back totaled 74 rushing yards on the evening.
“We played the hot hand, and Hockenberry was the hot hand tonight,” Nagle said. “He led us on the ground.”
Hockenberry wasn’t alone running rampant. His signal-caller got in on the action, too.
Kresovich scampered 19 yards to pay dirt as the first quarter closed, and tacked on a second rushing touchdown as time expired in the first half.
With Hockenberry and Kresovich’s legs commanding attention, BEA’s receivers found space to operate.
And their quarterback identified them.
Kresovich ripped a 44-yard heave to Gardner, a sophomore, before later connecting with Reese, a freshman, for a 33-yard strike.
Deeper in the evening, McClenahan hauled in a touchdown grab from Jones, paired with Blake Roberts’ fourth-quarter rushing score as the only points of the running-clock second half.
McClenahan finished with five catches for 77 yards, while Gardner hauled in two for 61 and Reese had his touchdown grab, and Kresovich couldn’t have been happier with how his young targets stepped up.
“It kind of shows you how the program is going to be in the next couple of years,” the senior said. “Everyone likes to see that.”
It was, however, a rough night for the Wolves.
Brendan Robinson, making his first-ever start at quarterback, was constantly under pressure. The junior was sacked four times, including a first-quarter safety by BEA’s Austin Young and Eli Myers.
Offensively, the Wolves accumulated 24 yards, while BEA racked up 424.
“We were outmatched tonight, but we just have to fundamentally get better across the board,” new head coach Steve Guthoff said. “(BEA is) a full-fledged varsity football program, well-coached and in the Mountain League. We’re just starting off. We’re going to look for positives to build on.”
One of those positives was running back Jared Stormer. A junior, Stormer bodied up the BEA defensive line between the tackles, recording 41 yards and a pair of first downs on 11 carries.
“He was a bright spot,” Guthoff said of Stormer.
But outside of that, they were few and far between for the Wolves.
It was the Eagles’ evening from the get-go — and Nagle had a memorable first game as head coach.
“It’s very exciting,” the former BEA letterwinner said. “We’ve been on the other side for a long time.”