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High School Sports
Hopewell linemen lead way

Saturday, December 07, 2002

By Paul Zeise, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

HERSHEY, PA. -- Shortly after Hopewell lost to New Castle in the seventh game of the season, a group of the Vikings linemen got together and talked about a promise they made to each other when they were in the sixth- and seventh-grade and playing for the middle school team.

"We all dreamed back them about winning a state title together," said junior guard Craig Bokor. "We all talked about it and decided we'd do whatever it took to make it happen. That night after we lost to New Castle, we agreed that we would not lose another battle on the line for the rest of the year. We've just been committed to coming out every game and controlling the line of scrimmage."

Last night, the Hopewell offensive and defensive linemen made good on that promise as they mauled their counterparts from District 1 Champion Strath Haven and led Hopewell to an impressive, 21-10 victory in the PIAA Class AAA championship game.

The goal by the Vikings might have been simply to control the line of scrimmage, but they went way beyond that. They dominated on both sides of the ball, so much so that Vikings Coach Dave Vestal scrapped most of his playbook in favor of a running play called 43-zone.

"Basically, that's a play where we come straight at you and see if you can stop us," Vestal said. "We pushed them around so much, we just kept calling it for most of the second half. Our line was incredible tonight."

Hopewell's domination was evident by the statistics. The Vikings ran 57 times for 304 yards for an average of 5.3 yards per carry. The Vikings attempted only one pass -- which was intercepted -- but had two runners each gain 100 yards.

"That was the best line we've seen all year by far," Strath Haven tackle Nick Hargreaves said.

Bokor said that Hargreaves sentiments were much the same of nearly every line they've faced this year. He also said that playing in the Parkway Conference prepared them for anything the rest of the state had to throw at them.

"They just weren't used to play as physical as we playing," Bokor said.

Along with Bokor, Hopewell's offensive line consists of Mike Mack, Mike Hudak, Terry Johnke, Jason Curenton and tight end Nate Iorio. Bokor, Hudak, Mack and Johnke comprise the defensive line as well.

Paul Zeise can be reached at pzeise@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1720.

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