On a blustery November night fans packed Don Thomas Stadium for a District 3-AAAA football playoff game between the Exeter Eagles and the Cedar Crest Falcons, and were treated to a 49-0 victory.
For Exeter, hosting a District play-off was the victory of an undefeated season. When head coach Matthew Bauer took over the team, the Eagles were coming off of three consecutive winless seasons. Bauer led them to one win his first season, and the Eagles never looked back.
With over 1,000 tickets pre-sold, there was not a seat to be had when the Berks County Champion Eagles took the field. The “Blue Crew,” Exeter’s student section, all decked out in blue and white, filled one end of the home stands. The other end was filled with Exeter’s 200 student marching band, resplendent in tuxes, bowties and blue and white parkas.
“I was so cold,” Ellie Doughton, a sophomore member of the marching band, said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to play when we took the field!”
The game started slowly, but when Exeter’s Nick Bentz kicked a 40-yard field goal with 6:55 left in the first quarter, the crowd erupted. The momentum remained with Exeter as college recruit Michal Menet recovered a Cedar Crest fumble on fourth down. Exeter quarterback Gabe Schapell followed with a 73-yard pass to Leroy Longenecker.
Exeter scored on a one-yard keeper by Schappell, and Bentz made the extra point to give Exeter a 10-0 lead. By halftime the Eagles held a 24-0 lead.
“They were taken completely by surprise,” Exeter principal William Cain said. “They came out fully prepared to stop our run game, and Bauer had a completely different game plan. All season we’ve run, run, run, but we came out passing and they weren’t prepared to stop it.”
The Exeter fans didn’t let the seemingly one-sided game dampen their spirits.
“It’s exciting,” Exeter’s camerawoman, Kassandra Scheese, said. “Normally a game like this gets boring, but it was exciting the whole time.”
The Eagles did everything, including a two-point conversion, on their way to a 39-0 lead that put the mercy rule into effect.
Even freshman Michael Stout got to contribute, throwing a 70-yard touchdown pass for Exeter’s final touchdown of the night.
“Everyone was screaming and chanting, it was really great,” Doughton said.
“My hand was so cold, it hurt so much,” Scheese added, “but it was worth it!”
The victory has Exeter fans looking ahead to the rest of the District 3 tournament.
“When you think about it, Wilson only beat Cedar Crest by 15 points,” Scheese said, referencing school rivals, the Wilson Bulldogs, “and we held Cedar Crest scoreless, so we really have a shot!”
The Eagles have to get past Cumberland Valley before they get a chance at Wilson, but the details were lost on fans who finally believed that their team could win.