CAMP HILL — There are four games left in Zack Kuntz’s career at Camp Hill. In three months he’ll be a little less than two hours north at Penn State, getting an early start on his career as the top freshman tight end for the Nittany Lions.
So he’s trying to make these last few games count, even if things likely end with a second straight postseason miss.
He had his fingerprints all over Friday’s Homecoming rout of Boiling Springs, scoring a career-high four touchdowns in a 40-7 shellacking.
Kuntz recorded three receiving touchdowns in the second half, hooking up with classmate Quinn Buffington for scores of 18, 39 and 10 yards. He also added an interception return for a score (more on that later). Replaced after halftime by the second team with a 40-0 lead, Kuntz finished with 110 yards on five receptions.
“I was just clicking with my quarterback,” he said outside the team’s locker room.
“When you have him, you have a vital weapon on the outside,” said first-year coach Tim Bigelow, who replaced Frank Gay 24 hours before the season opener. “If Zack is open, we obviously want to get him the ball as much as we can.”
The career day set several milestones for the 6-foot-8 tight end. His four TDs gave him nine in his career against the Bubblers (0-6, 0-3 Capital), including his previous game-high of three TDs as a sophomore, the most by a wide margin against any opponent. And Boiling Springs is the only team he’s scored against all four years.
“Obviously you have to be aware of where he’s at on the field at all times,” said first-year Bubblers coach Zack Stroh, who was proud of the physicality his defensive backs showed against the tight end. “There’s a reason he’s going to play at the level that he is.”
Kuntz now has 26 total touchdowns, including 24 receiving. He’s at 132 career receptions and his 110 receiving yards put him within 250 yards of 2,500 for his Lions tenure.
His big night started with a 28-yard pick-six on the second play from scrimmage. Kuntz threw his hands in front of a pass intended for a running back in the flat by the Bubblers’ Evan Mancuso and swallowed the ball, running untouched for the game’s first score.
“Since it was our first defensive series, it’s kind of like you’re adjusting to what the quarterback’s like,” Kuntz said. “Every quarterback is different, some throw it high, [some] low. Luckily for me it was low, so I jumped up and caught it.”
Kuntz now has four interceptions in his four-year varsity career. It’s his second return TD; his other came on Halloween night 2014, when he took an interception 69 yards to the house in a 51-21 rout of Middletown.
The Lions (3-3, 1-2) defense forced Boiling Springs to punt on the rest of its first-half possession. Camp Hill’s offense capitalized, finding a rhythm with good field position.
Buffington, who finished 10-of-12 for 161 yards, eluded several Bubblers for a 25-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Then he hit Kuntz for the first of their three scores just 39 seconds into the second quarter. Nick Perry followed with a 5-yard bounce to the right side. The Lions capped the half with two more quick scores, Buffington-to-Kuntz, in the final four minutes to start the running clock.
“Our defense played a heck of a game,” Bigelow said of a unit that allowed just 31 rushing yards and 116 through the air. “We consistently, week in and week out, have put together a great defensive game plan.”
“We aren’t able to overcome right now mistakes early,” Stroh said. “We need to get out to that fast start, stay on track.”
The Bubblers avoided a shutout when Zack Vonstein, who replaced Mancuso (9-of-18, 69 yards, INT), hit Tayven Kelley in stride down the left sideline for a 42-yard score to start the fourth quarter.
Boiling Springs is riding an 18-game losing streak that started in Week 10 of 2015.
“We just try and stay as positive as we can,” Stroh said. “That’s what we told them after, I want them to have that feeling of walking off the field winning a football game.”
The Bubblers stay home in Week 7 to face Milton Hershey, while the Lions hit the road for a Saturday meeting with unbeaten and PIAA championship-contending Middletown (6-0, 3-0).