Several teams ready to faceoff in important matchups
Thursday, October 04, 2012
The high school football season is in the homestretch, as teams take to the gridiron for Week 6 of action this week.
Clearfield and Curwensville look to remain unbeaten, while Glendale, Moshannon Valley and West Branch hope to bolster their resumees for the postseason.
A pair of teams in Philipsburg-Osceola and Purchase Line are hoping this is the week that they crack the win column.
The Bison entertain Bellefonte and the Golden Tide travel to Brockway in a pivotal AML South matchup. The Vikings take to the road to face Tussey Mountain, while the Knights and Warriors host Inter-County Conference foes Claysburg-Kimmel and Southern Huntingdon, respectively.
Penns Valley will visit Memorial Stadium to tangle with the Mounties, while Purchase Line is back under the home lights to face Marion Center.
Here's a closer look at this week's contests:
at Clearfield (5-0)
HYDE - Following last week's big win over Central Mountain, the unbeaten Bison find themselves in first place in the District 5-6-8-9 Regional playoff standings, 130 points in front of Somerset.
And with Class AAA Bellefonte coming to the Bison Sports Complex Friday, Clearfield has the opportunity to pick up some more valuable playoff points.
"We've put ourselves in a position the next win assures us of a winning season, which is our first goal," Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. "And we're a step closer to the playoffs. And the fact that Bellefonte is a Triple-A school means we get Triple-A points if we win.
"Every win is more and more important."
Clearfield also celebrates Homecoming this week, making things even bigger for the Bison.
"There will be a lot of alumni back, a lot of former football players," Janocko said. "It's an exciting time."
The Red Raiders bring a 2-3 record into the contest and have been a bit of a Jekyll-and-Hyde team this season.
Bellefonte led Tyrone at the half last week and trailed Central Mountain by just three points in Week 4 before being blown out by each (48-10 to the Golden Eagles and 50-14 to the Wildcats). But the Raiders also have a come-from-behind win over Huntingdon (29-14) and a 42-7 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola.
"Sometimes you see a pretty good Bellefonte team," Janocko said. "They were beating Tyrone then ran into a few problems. They were right with Central Mountain, then Von Walker took over.
"You're not sure which team is going to show up, but you have to prepare for them to come in and put together a full game."
The Red Raiders use a spread offense, but it's quite a different version than the one the Bison run.
"They throw quite a bit," Janocko said. "They don't use a tight end like we do. They spread the field wider. And they don't run much up the middle."
Bellefonte is led by running back Kahsim Buey, who has 361 yards and four scores on 42 carries.
"He's quick and if he gets in the secondary, he can go," Janocko said.
The Raiders leading receiver is Nick Leiter, who has nearly half Bellefonte's production through the air with 20 receptions for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
Both senior Jordan Fye and sophomore Phil Fenstermacker have seen plenty of snaps at quarterback, but Fye has had the majority of the action the last two weeks. For the season, Fenstermacker has completed 24 of his 53 attempts for 345 yards and two scores. He has also tossed five interceptions.
Defensively, the Red Raiders have surrendered 98 points the last two weeks after giving up just 21 the two weeks prior.
"They crowded the line of scrimmage against Tyrone," Janocko said. "Sometimes they use a 6-man front and sometimes they'll line up in a 5-3. They don't blitz as much as Central Mountain did, but they go to the ball pretty well."
Clearfield leads the all-time series, 28-24-1. The Bison have won the last two meetings by shutout, 44-0 last season and 34-0 in 2010.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
at Brockway (5-0)
BROCKWAY - If it's Curwensville vs. Brockway, there's probably a lot riding on the game.
Since the teams entered the Allegheny Mountain League, it seems like this game has gone a long way in determining the South Division champ as well as playoff positioning in the squad's respective classes.
And this year is certainly no different as both teams bring unblemished records to Frank Varischetti Field.
"It should be an exciting game," Curwensville head coach Andy Evanko said. "Hopefully both teams bring their best."
While many in District 9 will have their eyes on this contest, Evanko says his goal is to prepare the team for the task at hand and not let the other factors complicate things.
"We always focus on who we have this Friday and what we need to do in this game," he said. "We've not talked about the other implications."
Brockway features a variety of weapons, but backfield mates Chad Melillo and Alec Shaffer-Doan are probably the two that concern Evanko the most.
Melillo has rushed for 708 yards and seven touchdowns in Brockway's last three games, while Shaffer-Doan has thrown for 762 yards and four scores in the same span.
"Their running game is very efficient," Evanko said. "Melillo is a very capable running back and Shaffer-Doan handles the ball extremely well. He throws a good ball and has receivers that run all over the place.
"We need to be able to tackle well in the open field, and we need to be absolutely disciplined."
Defensively, Evanko expects the Rovers to come out and challenge the Golden Tide's running attack.
"We're looking for them to put 10 in the box like they have before," he said. "If they do, we'll take what they're giving us.
"They are big on the line on both sides of the ball. They have pretty good linebackers. We just have to come out and play our game."
Curwensville is 9-4 against the Rovers since the teams joined the AML. Brockway won last year's game, 17-12.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
at Moshannon Valley (3-2)
AMESVILLE - Last week's result wasn't what Black Knight head football coach Michael Keith had in mind when his team turned the ball over on four occasions and never got out of the starting gates in a 56-7 loss at Juniata Valley.
Keith will be interested to see how his squad responds on Friday when they return to the friendly confines of the Moshannon Valley Athletic Complex for their homecoming contest against Claysburg-Kimmel.
The Bulldogs have dropped four-straight games, while the Knights are 3-0 on their home turf this season.
"Practice has gone well this week," said Keith, "but that will be a tell-all for me - to see how they respond Friday night. I hope they respond. I hope they put it all together and they have a mistake-free game and play a game they're capable of playing."
To get back on the winning track, Keith believes Mo Valley's chances of winning greatly increase if it can stop running back Zach Helsel.
Helsel leads Claysburg-Kimmel with 111 carries, while no other ballcarrier has touched it more than 18 times through the first five games of the season.
The Bulldog senior has gained 607 yards and has 10 of his team's touchdowns - 9 of which have come on the ground.
"We want them to throw the ball," Keith said. "We want to stop (Helsel). If you stop (Helsel), you stop Claysburg. Their passing game consists of a back out of the backfield. Other than throwing the ball deep to a receiver, that's what they do. They sprint their quarterback out and try to flood a zone."
While the Knights' recipe for success is simple on defense, it is equally as vanilla on offense - taking care of the football.
Mo Valley has thrown a total of eight interceptions in their last two games, but Keith believes that remedying the turnovers comes with having a more consistent running game.
"You've got to establish a running game, no matter what level of football you're playing," said Keith. "If not, the defense can pin their ears back and send the house. If you throw the ball 30 times a game, you're going to throw interceptions. It comes down to establishing the running game and having a good mix."
Knight ballcarriers totaled 165 yards on the ground in a Week 1 win over West Branch, but have added just 182 to that total in their past four ballgames - good enough for a 45.5 yards per game average.
"We're not the fastest cats in the world," Keith said, "so we're going to make some changes and try to stretch the field ... just so opposing teams have to respect (our running game). We're taking everyone out of the box with the spread, but they're piling up the guys in the middle that are left and taking it away.
"We have to try to stretch the field sideways and make them respect it and then take the opportunities to pound it. ... No matter what front we face, we have to step to our blocks, keep on them and stop with the excuses."
The teams split a pair of contests last year with the Bulldogs winning in the regular season and the Knights getting revenge in the first round of the District 6 Class A playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
at Tussey Mountain (3-2)
SAXTON - After a sloppy first half against West Branch two weeks ago, Matt Irvine's Vikings have put together six of their best quarters of football.
After seeing his team put together a solid second half in a Week 4 loss to the Warriors, Glendale followed it up with a 37-6 win over Claysburg-Kimmel, in a contest it gained 400 yards on the ground.
Irvine is hopeful his team can keep on the right track when they travel to Tussey Mountain.
"I think, right now, we're three spots out of the playoffs so to get a win this week will be big," said Irvine. "It'd be good for the guys to win consecutive games and I we can build on that. We've been pretty good the last six quarters.
"We stressed to them to let us have the pressure (of the community) and to have them go play the game and have fun. I think that's the biggest thing ... they're just going out, playing and having fun."
The Titans will give the Viking defense a stern test, as they utilize a lot of motions and counters in their wing-T attack - which the Vikings have seen only once this year in a 7-6 win at Everett.
If Glendale is to advance into the postseason, Irvine knows his team will have to stop an offensive that his team will see frequently in the second half of the season.
"It helps with preparations having seen it before," Irvine said. "Almost half the teams we play, starting this week, run a similar style. Seeing it in the past and seeing it this week gives us a better chance to read and know how to defend it.
"They've got some motions and different counter attacks going on in the backfield to try and confuse you. I think we had a good week of practice and we'll be ready for it. We need to read our keys bc they'll take us where we need to go."
Tussey Mountain has three ballcarriers with at least 200 yards. Tyler Husick and Darrin Sipes have over 300 each while Mitchell Corbin has totaled 206, but Irvine believes it's the Titans' front that presents the biggest challenge.
"I think, as a whole, they're the biggest team we've seen on the line," said Irvine. "I think we can use our speed to our advantage this week and tire those guys out. We hope to tire them out early so we can get into what we want to do as soon as possible."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Southern Huntingdon (0-5)
at West Branch (2-3)
ALLPORT - After a challenging game last week on a long road trip to Everett, West Branch will be happy to be back in its own house this week. The Warriors welcome a winless Southern Huntingdon team to L.T. Drivas Memorial Field.
"My biggest concern is how we played last week," said West Branch head coach Lester Smeal. "We just didn't play well at all last week against Everett, offensively and defensively. It's a long trip and it's even longer when you don't win.
"I know Southern Huntingdon will look at the film this week and they'll like what they see. But they'll be excited to be at home on Friday night. The kids are fired up and they're ready to get another win."
Despite not earning a win yet this season, the Rockets have faced a couple of formidable opponents in Juniata Valley and Mount Union. Smeal also mentioned that this week isn't the time to go to sleep on a tricky Southern Huntingdon offense.
Freshman quarterback Tyler Carowick has thrown for over 200 yards this season, while the Rocket running game has produced over 300 yards.
"They run a triple option and that's a little different than it's been in the past," said Smeal. "They have some pretty good sized interior linemen. They also like to run a fullback dive, which has been the same for the last few years. And their quarterback throws a nice ball.
"The kids are excited about the new student section and they're happy to be playing back home. They want to hear the victory bell ring again."
Kickoff from Allport is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Marion Center (1-4)
at Purchase Line (0-5)
PURCHASE LINE - Homecoming is a very exciting time for a high school and Purchase Line celebrates their homecoming on Friday as Marion Center comes to town.
"It should be a great atmosphere to play a football game," said Purchase Line head coach Brandon Overdorff. "I hope our team is motivated to just play football and to attempt to gain a victory. I think that should be all the motivation we need."
Although the Stingers only have one win on their campaign, there are still plenty of things to worry about in their wing-T offense. Brodey Thompson, one of Marion Center's three running backs they primarily use, has 195 yards on 39 carries. Thompson is also the Stingers' leading tackler in their 4-4 defense.
"He is a good athlete and he is very physical on defense," said Overdorff of Thompson. "They run the ball very well and they have good team speed. They will play the whole game with great effort."
Marion Center quarterback Jake Bothell also is a weapon with his arm. The junior has 218 passing yards this season.
"Jake Bothell can throw the ball down the field with pretty good accuracy," said Overdorff. "That is a concern for us because we haven't defended the pass well.
"The plus to homecoming is you have a lot of people in the stands rooting for you, but we have to give them something to get excited about. Marion Center has gotten better as a team every week. They are a solid team and they are well-coached.
"They have a victory and we don't. I don't believe the records matter at this point. We need to fight tooth and nail to find a way to win."
The Dragons defeated Marion Center last year, 24-6, to snap a 25-game losing skid.
Kickoff from Barry T. Madill Memorial Stadium is set for 7 p.m.
Penns Valley (1-4)
at Philipsburg-Osceola (0-5)
PHILIPSBURG - With Homecoming on the calendar this week, there couldn't be a better time to pick up that first victory of the season.
And, with 1-4 Penns Valley coming to town, the Philipsburg-Osceola football team has a good chance.
The Rams are coming into Philipsburg on a high, however, after beating Huntingdon for the first time in school history last week.
Penns Valley toppled the Bearcats, 42-21, in Huntingdon to pick up its first win of the season.
The Rams were led by quarterback Cameron Tobias, who completed 22 of 27 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown. Receiver Dom Hook scored two touchdowns, while Luke Weaver added six receptions for 103 yards.
Penns Valley had eight different rushers touch the ball, racking up 152 yards on 39 carries.
The Mounties struggled on the road last week, losing 34-7 to Chestnut Ridge. P-O had two turnovers in the game and failed to stop the Lions' duo of Beau Bosch and Jacob Mock.
This week, P-O will have to get its offense going if it wants to hang around with the Rams.
The Mounties have moved the ball in all of their previous games, but have only scored four times this season.
Last season, P-O upended Penns Valley, 46-21, in Spring Mills.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Stadium.
Head coach Jeff Vroman was unavailable for comment.