Greenwood vital to the Buffaloes

MILLERSTOWN — What lies behind the recent success of the Newport football team — a team that has won 38 games in the last four seasons, while claiming three Tri-Valley League crowns and a District 3 championship?

In many ways, it is a cooperative agreement with neighboring Greenwood, one which has been going strong for nearly three decades. It is part of what seems to be one of the most successful high school sports co-ops in the state.

And it’s not just in football — the schools team up in five sports: Football, wrestling, and golf play under the Buffalo flag, while boys’ soccer and track carry the Wildcat banner.

The Millerstown-based school provided 11 of 42 rostered Buffaloes on this season’s District 3 Class 2A championship football team, including the leading rusher (Ethan Rode) and tackler (Derek Peachey).

Newport coach Todd Rothermel felt his Greenwood players blended well into his team.

“To be honest, I don’t even know who is from Greenwood and who is from Newport (while coaching). The kids get along great and work well together. We wouldn’t be as good as we are without the co-op,” he said.

Rode galloped for 1,335 yards this year, setting a new program record for sophomores, and the fourth highest total generated by a Newport back on record (since 1973; individual statistics prior to that are largely unavailable). Nineteen of Rode’s carries ended as touchdowns.

Peachey, a senior two-way lineman, anchored a stingy defense that allowed a school-record low 80.9 rushing yards per game with 65 tackles, 12 sacks, and 23 quarterback hurries on the season.

Other Wildcats — Seth Little (38 stops, 10 hurries) Rode (36 tackles), and Alexander VanHorn (33 tackles) made solid contributions on defense.

VanHorn, who battled injuries all season long, also was Johnny-on-the-spot in scooping up a fumble in the Buffalo backfield and converting it a game-winning fourth-quarter touchdown against Juniata.

On the offensive side, Peachey was part of a dominant offensive line that allowed Buffalo backs to average a superb 5.7 yards per tote.

The center of that line was another Greenwood player, sophomore Zack Minium.

“Minium did a great job stepping up this year and taking over the center position,” Rothermel said.

Greenwood freshman Thomas Pyle rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in limited playing time.

Other Greenwood products on the roster included juniors Garrett Seiber and Aaron Sanko, and sophomores Riley Taylor, Logan Kerstetter and Ernie Schoonover.

Greenwood also produced the program’s second all-time leading rusher in Eli Goodling (2017), who is now attending Bloomsburg University. Goodling rushed for 3,182 yards in his Buffalo career and set the school’s single-season touchdown record with 25 his senior year.

Rothermel acknowledged it was ‘a little weird’ in that his players often play against each other in basketball or other sports. He added it there is some good natured ribbing that goes back and forth, but in all the kids handle it very well and treat each other as brothers regardless of their home school.

Newport’s season ended in the first round of the state bracket. Peachey and Rode both received all-league honors.