Clearfield, Bradford set for D-9 AAA title
Thursday, November 01, 2012
One Progressland football team begins its postseason quest this week, while two others fight for their playoff lives as the regular season comes to a close.
Clearfield, which already has the top spot in the District 5-6-8-9 Class AAA playoffs set to begin next week, travels to Brockway on Friday to face Bradford for the D-9 Class AAA title.
Glendale and Moshannon Valley each have slim playoff hopes in District 6 Class A.
The Vikings, currently ninth in the standings, need to win a Saturday road game against Ferndale and have a little help to get in, while the Black Knights, who are 11th in the playoff seedings, have to defeat host Blairsville on Friday and get quite a bit of assistance to make the 8-team field.
Philipsburg-Osceola, Purchase Line and West Branch will all close their seasons.
The Mounties visit Forest Hills, looking for their first win of the season. The Red Dragons look to close their campaign on a positive note with a win at home against Conemaugh Valley and West Branch goes to Williamsburg with a shot at a .500 season.
Curwensville is off this week before beginning play in the District 9 Class A playoffs in Week 11.
Here is a closer look at this week's games:
District 9 Class AAA Championship
Bradford (4-5) vs. Clearfield (9-0)
BROCKWAY - Not too long ago, the matchup between the Owls and Bison was a marquee game on the schedule whether it be in the regular season or playoffs.
The teams battled for the District 9 Class AAA title five times between 2000 and 2006 with the Owls winning four times. But Bradford has not been to the championship contest since a 17-0 shutout of St. Marys in 2007, while Clearfield has ruled the roost since then, winning three of the last four titles.
Bradford won the last meeting between the teams, scoring a 37-30 win in overtime in the D-9 title game in 2006.
"It's been a while since we've played them," Clearfield head coach Tim Janocko said. "For about three of four years, we were really going at each other. We would lead off the regular season with them and then see them again in the playoffs."
The Owls bring a 4-5 record into the game, playing a District 10-heavy schedule.
Bradford has wins over Olean, N.Y. (20-7), Oil City (28-27), Franklin (31-13) and St. Marys (24-12). The Owls losses came against Warren (47-6), Slippery Rock (25-3), DuBois (84-6), General McLane (42-22) and Meadville (42-28).
"They might only have four wins, but they've played a lot of good competition," Janocko said. "They're in this game for a reason."
Quarterback Matt Yurkewicz leads Bradford's run-heavy offense with 742 yards and 12 touchdowns on 126 carries. He has also completed 31 of his 80 pass attempts for 412 yards and three scores, while tossing eight picks.
"They are still running the wing-T," Janocko said. "(Yurkewicz) is their best athlete. He can score quick. He can take a run and turn it into an 80-yard touchdown. They have other good backs, but he is a majority of the offense."
Aaron Fishkin has rushed for over 400 yards, including 105 yards and two scores against General McLane. He is also one of the team's leading tacklers with 66. Yurkewicz has 69 stops to pace the Owl defense.
"They like to put a lot of people on the line of scrimmage," Janocko said of the Bradford defense. "They show a lot of blitzes and bring pressure up the middle.
"Offensively, our line has to do what they've done all year."
Clearfield leads the all-time series, 20-10, but the Owls own a 4-1 record in the playoffs.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Frank Varischetti Field.
Moshannon Valley (5-4) at Blairsville (5-4)
BLAIRSVILLE - Both Moshannon Valley and Blairsville have a chance at qualifying for the District 6 Class A playoffs, which are set to begin next weekend.
The Black Knights and Bobcats will need outside help to leap frog some teams ahead of them in the standings, but each side will enter Friday's contest looking to control what they can control - earning a win to give themselves a shot.
The teams last met in the D-6 postseason in 2002, where Blairsville bested Mo Valley, 34-19, at the same venue.
"If we win, we have a chance," said Knights head coach Michael Keith, "if we don't, there's no chance. That's what I told them (Wednesday).
"We said, if we win, we have a shot. If we win and don't make it, we're 6-4, which is pretty respectable. There are a lot of teams that would take 6-4."
Keith's squad will face an offensive unit not all that dissimilar to their own, as the Bobcats' offense likes to take advantage of matchups with a spread look.
Blairsville sophomore quarterback Scott Thompson will be the focal point of the Mo Valley defense, as he's thrown for over 1,200 yards for 11 scores, and has over 350 yards on the ground with a team-high nine TDs.
Thompson's efforts on the ground are complemented by Deion Robinson, who has added 86 carries for 727 yards and eight touchdowns. Thompson also has viable options on the outside, as three different receivers have over 300 yards to their credit.
"They throw just about as much as we do," Keith said of the Bobcats. "Their quarterback is a big, athletic kid. They don't quite spread it out as much as we do, and they're under center more than we are. We need to contain (Thompson). He seems like their player."
Like the Knights, Blairsville - which averages 145 yards on the ground and an additional 148 through the air - is much tougher in the friendly confines of their home field.
Mo Valley was 4-0 before being knocked off by Williamsburg on Senior Night, while the Bobcats enter the regular season finale with the same mark the Knights had prior to the loss to the Blue Pirates.
"We're both 5-4," said Keith. "It's going to be who wants it more. That's the kind of game it's going to be. ... It comes down to playing well. We played with emotion last week. If we come out flat, we'll be coming home with our tail between our legs."
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Philipsburg-Osceola (0-9) at Forest Hills (6-3)
The Philipsburg-Osceola football team has one last chance to pick up a win this season, and the Mounties are going to need a complete game to top Forest Hills.
The Mounties have been outscored by their opponents, 396-75, and have struggled to put all four quarters together this season.
P-O is coming off a 42-7 loss to rival Clearfield, while the Rangers are coming off a 29-24 victory over Greater Johnstown.
Forest Hills has won four straight and looks to improve its chance at a Class AA playoff spot.
The Rangers are led by quarterback Joe Donoughe, who is 76-of-116 for 1,081 yards. He has thrown six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Donoughe has also rushed for 322 yards on 81 carries and scored five touchdowns.
Forest Hills' leading rusher is Shawn Dell, who has 616 yards on 93 carries and four touchdowns.
He is joined by leading receiver Jared Shope, who has caught 31 passes for 436 yards and two touchdowns.
Shope has also completed 21 of 39 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns. He has also thrown two interceptions.
The will be the first meeting between the two teams, who have yet to cross paths in the regular season or the Class AA playoffs.
The game site is still up in the air, as Forest Hills' field in Sidman was under water as of Wednesday.
The alternate site is Richland High School's field, which is turf. A decision was expected to be made this morning.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
West Branch (4-5) at Williamsburg (2-7)
WILLIAMSBURG - Like most of the area and a big portion of the state, the West Branch football team is dealing with a short week due to Hurricane Sandy's wrath across the East coast earlier in the week.
But the Warriors will hit the road for the last week of the season at Williamsburg and look to finish the season at .500. Despite only having two days of practice to work with this week, West Branch head coach Lester Smeal said there won't be much change over the week.
"We're not doing anything differently than we have all year," he said. "We just have to make sure everything is clicking."
"We're looking to put four quarters together. With a win we can finish at .500, so there's a lot of will and desire to go down there and play well."
The Blue Pirates sport a pair of running backs who have 1,000 yards this year in Jed Dishong and Alan Shanholtz. Dishong, who has a power running style, has 586 yards on the ground, while Shanholtz, the speed back, comes in to the last week with 414 yards.
In addition, the throwing game has been a reliable source for Williamsburg this year.
Quarterback Austin McMonagle has thrown for 786 yards through the air this season. His main targets, Caleb Morrissey (233 yards) and Quinton Snyder (228 yards), have been a big-play threat for the Blue Pirates throughout the season.
"They like to get the ball to them," said Smeal of Morrissey and Snyder. "They run pretty much the same offense as we have seen for the last two weeks against Mount Union and Juniata Valley."
"They're capable of big plays. We want to play solid defense against them. Just having the repetition will help this week.
"There will be a lot of cramming in these two days to get ready."
The Blue Pirates defeated West Branch, 26-20, in 2010. The teams did not meet last season.
Kickoff is set for 7 at Williamsburg High School.
Conemaugh Valley (3-6) at Purchase Line (1-8)
PURCHASE LINE - There hasn't been a whole lot to be excited about for the Purchase Line football team. Looking for just their second win, the Red Dragons wrap up their season with Conemaugh Valley on Friday night.
Purchase Line has been struggling to put points on the board, but that could change this week due to the pile of points the Blue Jays give up on defense.
Conemaugh Valley has 249 points scored against them this season in nine games and has given up over 30 points in four contests.
But the Blue Jays have made up many of those points through their running game, which has produced 1,664 yards this season.
Senior fullback Shane Corson has 182 carries for 1,053 yards for 11 touchdowns. He ran for 318 yards and six touchdowns in a 47-24 win over Ferndale earlier in the season.
Blue Jay senior quarterback Xavier Butts has thrown for 315 yards on the year for two touchdowns. Nick Roberts has caught 10 of Butts' 23 completions for 210 yards to lead the receiving for Conemaugh Valley.
The two teams have not met since the 1992 season when Conemaugh Valley defeated the Red Dragons, 42-12.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Barry T. Madill Memorial Field.
Purchase Line head coach Brandon Overdorff was unavailable for comment.
Glendale (5-4) vs. Ferndale (1-8)
JOHNSTOWN - When a team has played a strictly Friday night schedule, a game a day later could throw everything out of whack.
Glendale head coach Matt Irvine sees it as being the exact opposite for his squad, which needs a win over 1-win Ferndale to keep its playoff hopes alive.
The Vikings will have a better idea of where they stand after Friday's slate of games are completed - another benefit that Irvine sees for his team.
"I talked to the kids and told them the possibilities and what needs to happen," said Irvine. "If we don't win, none of it matters. We have to go in with a win on your minds.
"Another good thing about playing Saturday (is) we'll know what happened before and we'll know if this win will really push us into the playoffs. I think that'll get us into a good mindset for the game."
The fact the game is being played at Johnstown High School gives the Vikings another variable to contend with that they haven't all season - dealing with the amped-up speed that comes with playing on synthetic turf.
The Yellow Jackets' offense thrives behind junior quarterback Chad Eisenhuth, who has over 1,100 yards through the air and an additional 468 yards.
Eisenhuth has eight of his team's 10 touchdowns on the ground, and his 90 carries are more than the rest of the squad combined. No other Ferndale player has more than 39 attempts.
"He's pretty much their offense," Irvine said of Eisenhuth. "It all goes through him, so keeping him contained in the pocket and taking away his options and running lanes is pretty big. He has some other options, too. We just have to play disciplined and do our roles."
Eisenhuth has his share of weapons the Viking secondary will have to keep under wraps, led by Isaiah Sajatovich. Sajatovich has team-highs in receptions (28) and yards (483), while freshman Taylor Kinsey and Carlos Mason have 17 receptions each.
Kinsey leads all receivers with four touchdowns.
The Glendale offense should also thrive on the carpet, as the Yellow Jacket defense has allowed 419 points so far this season.
"This will be the first turf game for a lot of them (so) it'll be a new experience for the kids," said Irvine.
"It's going to help both of us out. (Damon) Braniff and (Doug) Twigg and (Gary) Witherow might not get the full effect of their speed on grass, but the turf is going to make them that much faster and quicker.
"Same with them. They have some athletes that can give us trouble if we don't keep them contained and stay within our duties."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Trojan Stadium.