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2006 Tuesday Trojan Trivia

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #1

We’ll start the 2006 season with a tough one for Tuesday Trojan Trivia: only two Trojans have ever been honored with a Fabulous 22 honor from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, name them and the year that were bestowed said honor.

Now, to the look ahead. Penn Cambria is a squad that snuck up on a lot of Trojan faithful last year. I think many in the Nation (present company included) assumed this would be a walk-over game. This feeling came with good reason. In the two times these schools squared off against one another, the Panthers failed to score a point against the Trojans. In 2004, in a rain and fog mired game, the Trojans only mustered 14 points but that was all they need. In the year prior, former Panther coach Tom Walter tried a stalling strategy in which his quarterback burned as much time as possible before snapping the ball. This game plan got PC miserable results, mainly because you have to score in order for such a strategy to be successful. The Men of Troy won that contest 28-0.

Sure, many could look back at the 2005 contest with hindsight being 20/20 and say “look, this year was different.” One of the main reasons one could say that is because of the addition of Coach Ernie Fetzer. Sure, Fetzer had enormous success. First at Vo-Tech and later as longtime coach of Westmont. HOWEVA (with apologies to Stephen A. Smith), with all due respect Fetzter didn’t do much in his time with the Somerset program to garner some sort of program turning around magic capability.

These factors together may have led not only Johnstown fans, but followers across the LHAC to gravely underestimate the 2005 Penn Cambria Panthers. In doing such, we underestimate this year’s edition also. Why? Because they return most of the team intact from last year’s squad that played state ranked Tyrone as tough as anyone could imagine in a first round district playoff match-up.

The main Panther back in the saddle for PC this year is FB/LB Matt Holsberger. His hard running behind a tough offensive lines was one of the keys to victory in the game a year ago. Holsberger was the leading rusher on the squad a year ago with 577 yards on 109 carries and five touchdowns.

In front of Holsberger is the line we already mentioned. Notable returnees are Corey Leahy at tackle, Corey Merua at center and John Burkhart at guard. Joining those interior linemen is tight end Jon Starchville.

George Klayko is returning at quarterback. Although Fetzer loses Luke Tomaselli, he was more of a threat with the run. Klayko was far and away the more accomplished passer in the platoon system from a year ago. He was 32-of-60 with 414 yards and 3 touchdowns. One thing he’ll have to improve on in ‘06 is interceptions as he threw 6 a year ago. Look for Starchville and split end Bobby Glenn to be Klayko’s favorite targets.

One of the keys to this game for Johnstown will be how the front four, mainly defensive ends Aaron Brezovic and EZ Miller, handle the Panthers’ line at the point of attack. If the Trojans can stuff the run and force PC’s hand to the pass, that could be most favorable for their game plan. PC was a team that used the run a lot more than the pass last year (2005 rushing yards 1,843; 2005 passing yards 604). A big surge by the Trojan D-Line will be key in establishing the goal of shutting down the run.

On offense, look for the Trojans to exploit their strength: speed. A preview of the team that was published in the Tribune Review over the weekend made reference to a style of offense similar to West Virginia. If that means getting the ball into Antwuan Reed’s hands in more ways and getting him involved more, that’s great. This could really be a breakout year for Reed and he showed glimpses of such skill in the first scrimmage.

One thing that is particular importance in this style of offense, of the Urban Meyer system that was used at Utah and now Florida, is the shotgun snap. Not that the shotgun snap isn’t always important, but it is really critical in this offense. There are so many reads and options that are timing plays and the center cannot afford to float the ball back to the quarterback.

Another player that can be a threat in this style of offense is senior quarterback Brandon Hody. And not just with his throwing but his running as well. He looked pretty athletic in the Cambria Heights scrimmage on the run and I could see some designed runs going his way in that style of offense. In the read option, you really need your quarterback to be athletic in order to sell the fakes. Otherwise a team will ignore the quarterback and focus on the tailback. Look at how Brock Lauer ran this style of offense at Bishop Carroll last year. There were games when Paul Forcellini was shut down but Lauer hurt the opponent with his legs rather than his arm. That for sure is what happened when JHS played the Huskies last year.

Back to Hody, let’s not sell his passing skills short. He’s coming off a 1,030 yard, 10 touchdown season and with one year of varsity starting already under his belt, look to him to be an on-field leader on offense. Demetrius Young and Adonis Jackson are both better than average threats. Both caught touchdown passes last year for the Trojans.

Although on the stat sheet last year, the run outweighed the pass it was more of a balance than PC showed. JHS gained 1,302 on the ground and 1,110 via air. I would expect that trend to continue for Johnstown this year.

The key to this game will be the line play on both sides of the ball. Who will stop the run and force the other team to the air? I think Johnstown has the athletes to compete in a air-it-out shoot-out if PC stops the run. If JHS can stuff PC’s run that could prove to be a long night for the Panthers.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #2

This week’s Tuesday Trojan Trivia is of the true/false variety: Johnstown has played every CURRENT member of the District 6-AAA scene in either a regular season or playoff contest. If your answer is false, who have they NOT faced off against?

Now, to the look ahead and the Central Cambria Red Devils. Word is that this is a much improved team from the 2-7 squad from a year ago. They looked good in their week one 27-7 defeat but is that really saying much with the way Somerset’s program has been in the past few seasons?

I would not overlook the Red Devils though, I’m just saying it is hard to gauge much from a win over a program that hasn’t been successful as of late.

It will be hard to get much from game film from Friday night considering the rain that hampered most offenses in the region but one thing is for sure: the Red Devils will be looking to get the ball into Corey Faish’s hands. The senior CC tailback was the workhorse, carrying 24 times for 175 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Red Devils M.O. was clearly the running game as Josh Olsavsky carried the ball 9 times for 63 yards and in the process spelled Faish.

Through the air, quarterback Shane McGregor completed only 2 of his 5 attempted passes, although one of them was a 7-yard touchdown to Tom Ley. Now, I realize that wet conditions could have forced Coach Mike Terek’s hands but let’s be honest, wet field or not those are some nice numbers. Numbers that would have a high school football coach more than glad to keep the ball on the ground in any conditions.

I believe the Trojan defense have a similar game plan that they did a week ago: stop the run and force a team to pass, especially one that doesn’t want to throw. I’m sure Coach Terek will see those same long pass plays that the Trojans were beat on, however, Johnstown should be at a clear advantage this week. Why? Mainly because Penn Cambria’s line is better than Central Cambria’s and Matt Holsberger is a very tough runner that the Trojans were able to keep to only 60 yards on the ground.

If the Trojans swarm the ball with the same intensity they did on Friday, they should be fine.

When the Trojans are on offense one player they should be mindful of is Adam Petrosky. Petrosky had two interceptions in the opener against Somerset so he’s shown ball hawking ability. This is one player Brandon Hody should be mindful of when he drops back to pass.

One thing that may be on the Trojans’ offensive side is dry conditions. Surely some of the wetness hampered the Trojans in some of the plays that could be called. If things are dry in Ebensburg I would think some of the wrinkles of that WVU-style offense could be on display. I truly think Penn Cambria is a better team than CC, therefore line play should put the Trojans at more of an advantage this week. Hody should have more time to pass, and Reed will have bigger holes to get through. This could be a breakout week for not only Reed, but many other players on the Trojan offense.

Hody ran the option particularly well Friday night and that could be mixed in to keep the Red Devils off balance.

Bottom line: this is a game JHS can and should win. It’s up to them to keep the momentum alive from a great opener, go on the road and overcome that adversity and go 2-0 going into section play.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #3

This week's question is in regards to this week's opponent: Westmont. Prior to Johnstown joining the LHAC in 2001, had the Trojans ever played against the Westmont Hilltop football team?

Now, to week three and the first game of the section schedule. This opponent is one that the Trojans have faltered against in recent memory. JHS hasn't beat Westmont since the 2003 season and although the games in '04 and '05 were hard fought, what matters most is the result and in those two games it was an "L" for the Trojans.

The 2004 Westmont team was the first to defeat the Trojans at Trojan Stadium.

But that is all ancient history and we'll move on to the here and now. The 2006 version of the Hilltoppers is very different from the team of just a year ago. Gone is Coach Stan "Skip" Skowron as well as a talented core of skill players, most notably Brad Kanuch, Paul Vrabel and Nick McKloskey.

Darin McLaurin takes over as head coach and he has the pedigree. He was an assistant under Ernie Fetzer for several of the best years of Westmont football in recent memory. He picked up his first win a week ago over Cambria Heights and is most likely eager to pick up the next against Johnstown.

On offense, it appears through two games that the Hilltoppers will attempt to go at things through the air and on the ground as they show a balanced attack on the stat sheet thus far. Taking over for the departed Vrabel at quarterback is Joe Valcheff. On the season Valcheff is 14-for-29 with 237 yards and 4 TDs. His favorite targets are Nick Khuri (9 receptions, 169 yards and 3 TDs) and Zack Trotz (4 receptions, 77 yards and 2 TDs). When the Hilltoppers run the ball Chaz Merriman is the choice as he has carried the ball 25 times for 169 yards through two games.

Defensively, Andrew Chessa has been the standout with 18 total tackles and 2 INTs through two games. Sean McDonald and Nathan Felix have each contributed with 14 tackles so far this year. When it comes to rushing the quarterback, it's a pair of Zacs that are doing the damage: Zack Trotz and Zac Bennett have two sacks apiece this year.

Regarding Special Teams Stephan Chessa handles kickoffs, placekicks and punting. He has 4 punts for 105 yards, 8 kickoffs for 388 yards and is perfect on PATs. T.J. Keklak appears to be Coach McLaurin's man in the return game as he has returned 4 kickoffs for 85 yards and a punt for 10.

When Johnstown has the ball it will be imperative that the offensive line once again establish the advantage. It is an old cliché but the strong running game can set up the pass and that is what happened last week against Central Cambria. On paper, the Hilltoppers are very similar to the Red Devils as far as talent level on the line. I would predict that Johnstown will be able to mix it up with the pass and the run with some success, hopefully as much as a week ago.

When Westmont has the ball look for the front eight to come hard again and shut down the run. They have held two good backs in weeks one and two to limited yardage. If you would handicap the running backs the Trojans have faced to date, one would have to think that Holsberger and Faish are better runners than Merriman. If the run is contained in the trenches than Westy could be another squad forced to go through the air. This is concerning as Westmont clearly throws better than PC or CC. The program has burned Johnstown in the past through the air. The more pressing issue is if the Hilltoppers attempt to stretch the field with the vertical passing game. Screens and west-coast style plays shouldn't beat the Trojans as they'll have the advantage of superior team speed. However, if coverages are blown or assignments missed deep, the Trojans could get beat. This is why Brezovic and company will need to continue to pressure the quarterback and get in the backfield either for the sack or the pressures and hurries. Another important question is if Will Harris will be 100%. We mentioned his injury yesterday and his status is unknown but he made quite an impact in week one.

That leads to other Trojan injury and the status of Ben Landis. If he can't go, then there is the possibility of the field position battle being compromised as far as the kickoffs and punts are concerned. Plus, if the game is close those PATs are important and it isn't good to have that a question mark going into the game. Hopefully that won't be the case this Friday.

Now, prediction time: I think a Trojan will bring back a kick or punt for a touchdown this week. Both Adonis Jackson and Durese Coleman have been knocking on the door through two weeks and this will be the week one of them takes one to the house. On the coverage end of the things, the Trojans have given up a few longer than average returns but nothing too bad (for example, over the 50 and into JHS territory).

I mentioned the label of Johnstown teams being undisciplined yesterday and I feel that is unfair. This year through two weeks there have been minimal penalties and none having huge, game-altering consequences. Look for the Trojans to continue to play smart football and force the zebras to keep the flags in their pockets.

Here's to hoping this game, like last week's, will be decided by the half.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #4

Our question this week takes a familiar theme with some of our previous questions so far this year: prior to Johnstown joining the LHAC, have they ever played Richland?

Now, onto this year’s version of the Richland Rams. This is a team that has opened a lot of eyes so far this year. They’re 3-0 and although two of those wins are against Central and Cambria Heights, the third was against sectional foe Bishop Carroll. Say what you will about the Huskies having a down year, but that takes nothing away from what the Rams have accomplished so far.

Many people thought it was only a matter of time before Brandon Bailey got things turned around in Richland and after enduring some adversity and losing seasons, this could be their year. Brandon was a great high school quarterback and it’s hard to doubt the pedigree as far as coaching goes.

But first things first for Bailey and the Rams are the concerns going into this week’s game with arguably their best two players injured. Both Marco Pecora and Andy Rubal were injured in Friday’s win against Bishop Carroll. According to Cory Isenberg’s column in yesterday’s Tribune-Democrat, both players are listed as questionable. Since it’s too early to tell what their status is, we’ll present this with the frame of mind that both guys will play.

Offensively, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell that the Rams’ offense goes through Pecora. He is 46-of-68 on the season with 668 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Pecora is also the team’s leading rusher, carrying the ball 43 times for 186 yards and 5 touchdowns. When throwing the ball, his favorite targets are Rubal (14 catches, 266 yards and 2 touchdowns), Dan Fenton (6 catches, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Dino Tessari (13 catches, 138 yards, 1 touchdown).

Aside from Pecora, when the Rams opt to the ground look for Jon Sakmar (14 carries, 90 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Matt Leslie (12 carries, 64 yards) will share the load.

When the Rams are on defense, look for strong leadership and performance from Ryan Krouse (41 tackles) and Sakmar (24 tackles). Joe Rizzo leads the squad with 2 sacks while Fenton has 2 interceptions.

In the third element of the game, special teams, the Rams are led by a number of players. Rubal and Fenton have handled punt return duties thus far with limited success. Each has returned 2 punts apiece. Matt Kerekes is the leader in the kick return department with 5 returns for 93 yards. Pecora handles the punting (10 punts for 351 yards) while Russ Sichak and Rubal have shared the kickoff duties. The placekicking duties have also been split by Coach Bailey. Jon Ondesko and Rubal have both attempted and made extra points this season. Ondesko is 4-for-7 while Rubal is a perfect 2-for-2. Ondesko has attempted and made one field goal. It was good from 29 yards.

Assuming Pecora and Rubal are good to go Friday, this will be the team that could pass the most and with the most success against the Trojans. Surely Coach Bailey will see some missed opportunities that the Hilltoppers had against the Trojans a week ago along with some passes they connected. The Rams passing game is light years away from where Westmont is at this point in time. If the Rams offensive line can give the quarterback ample time to go deep the Trojans could be in for a battle. I look for the Rams to utilize play action passing to get the aggressive Trojan defense out of position. The front eight will have to be especially disciplined in order to help out the secondary as much as possible.

However, this is all a moot point if Brezovic, Stephens-Howling, Huddleston , Harris and company continue to be disruptive, sacking and hurrying the quarterback. That being said, if Pecora is good to go, he is far and away the most mobile quarterback the Trojans have faced so far.

Offensively, the Trojans will again continue to try to be as balanced as they can. The passing game will need to pick it up though. If they can overcome some drop issues then they can use the pass to keep teams honest against Reed and the run. Also, look for Webster to continue to get carries from the fullback position as a change of pace.

Special teams is probably a push between the two squads. My prediction of a Trojan return touchdown didn’t come to fruition but I think it’s only a matter of time before Adonis Jackson breaks one.

I truly believe the Trojans will win, but they have to step it up from a week ago. Gone are the days when you could coast, not get up for the Richland game and still win. If the team performs as they did against Westmont they won’t escape with the win.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #5

Before we look at this year’s Somerset Golden Eagles, let’s have a quick trivia question. The Trojans’ 1,000th game will be this week. When was the 900th game in program history and what was the opponent and result.

When one looks at the stat sheet from Somerset, it’s not hard to believe this is a winless teams. Some of these lines wouldn’t be impressive for one game let alone three. As publishing time, Somerset hadn’t yet updated their stats on MaxPreps so through week three is the best we have to work with.

In the past, this would be a match-up that the Trojans could potentially overlook and be overconfident. That is definitely what happened a year ago with this Somerset team as the Eagles hung tough for the first half.

Don’t look for that to happen this year as Coach Arcurio will most likely use the fact of the big festivities to motivate his troops. Although the 1,000th game hoopla could be a distraction, don’t look for it to be. The coaches will use the promotion and such as motivation to show the kids they should be proud to be a part of a program with such a storied tradition. There should be another big crowd at the game and that’s great. Capacity crowds at Trojan Stadium should be the norm anyway.

On the field, when it comes to the offense of Somerset, Jordan Kaufman is the catalyst. He’s the quarterback and co-leader in rushing. Kaufman is 8-for-29 with 104 yards and 4 INTs through the air. He’s also ran the ball 31 times for 76 yards. Josey Jano is the other threat on the ground, gaining the same 76 yards on 20 carries.

Vincent Corden has caught 5 passes for 58 yards.

Defensively, Damon McClintock has 32 tackles, Jake Johns has recovered 2 fumbles and no Eagle has picked off a pass.

Jano and Chase Dykstra handle return duties. Jano has returned one punt and five kickoffs (74 yards on the kickoffs) while Dykstra has 7 kickoff returns for 103 yards. Andrew Coughenour handles punting, kicking off and placekicking. He has 7 punts for 239 yards, 4 kickoffs for 172 yards and is a perfect 1-for-1 on PATs.

This is yet another game that on paper the Trojans win in the trenches. There is nothing that I’ve seen or heard that makes me think this Somerset offensive line will do any better containing the Trojan front four than any other opponent they’ve faced through four weeks.

Look for the Trojans to go out in style in their 1,000th game with a blowout that will get many guys on the roster playing time.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #7

This week’s trivia, as in past weeks, has to do with the current opponent at hand. This week is Bishop McCort and the question is as follows: Name the year and the result of the last time the Trojans and Crushers met at the Point Stadium.

OK, now to the look ahead. It’s no secret that Bishop McCort is the most talented team that the Trojans have faced up to this point. The naysayers will tell you that Johnstown hasn’t played a quality opponent yet so their 6-0 is misleading. I’ll only point to week one to dispute that. Penn Cambria is a very good football team and they are on the cusp reaching the upper level of the LHAC under Ernie Fetzer’s tutelage. PC will have a statement game against Forest Hills this week that is pretty much the battle for supremacy in Section 1.

But back to Section 2 and the Johnstown vs. McCort tilt. First of all, it’s homecoming for McCort so expect a crowd over and above the expectations that might normally come with this game. Also, it’s a return to the Point Stadium for the Trojans. JHS is a program with a storied history in this very facility. Sure, it’s totally rebuilt but that means little when it comes to motivational values. Coach Arcurio played and coached in many games for Johnstown on this very surface. Don’t think he’ll try to explain to his squad the significance of winning this game in this venue.

Now, let’s start breaking down the facets of the game and this match-up. Jordan Defrances is the junior quarterback in charge of Ken Salem’s offense. Through the first five games of the year, he was 51-for-105 738 yards and 6 touchdowns. The black mark on that stat line is that he had 7 interceptions through those five games. Defrances added to those numbers by going 10-of-19 for 179 yards and 3 touchdowns against Westmont Saturday.

Defrances likes to go to senior wideout Chris Seidel who had 17 catches for 374 yards and 2 touchdowns through the first five games. Also look for 6’4” junior tight end Michael Cruz in the passing game, especially in goal line and short yardage situations. Through McCort’s first five games, Cruz caught 8 passes for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns but he added two touchdowns in the Westmont game Saturday.

Ken Salem’s club is also stout on the ground, using a balanced attack of Brad Barbin and fullback Scott Lewis. Lewis is especially fluent on the short traps that the Crushers have been executing to perfection since the days when Frank Krevetski was their coach. Lewis is actually the leading rusher on the squad with 51 carries for 398 yards and 3 touchdowns through five games in addition to his 12 carry 145 yard performance Saturday against the Hilltoppers. Barbin had 84 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to go along with the 358 yards and 8 touchdowns he had in McCort’s previous five games.

Defensively, the Crushers are led by Lewis who through five games had 46 tackles and 3 sacks to lead his team in both categories. Chris Kawchak has 43 tackles and 2 sacks, big Wayne Jones has 41 tackles and Barbin has 2 sacks. Matt Varga, Cruz, Seidel and Schrey all have 1 interception each.

On the third phase, Special Teams, Barbin is the leading punt returner with 4 returns for 37 yards. Schrey handles the bulk of the duties on kickoff returns, taking back 5 kicks for 95 yards. Ben Pastorek handles the punting. He has punted 7 times for 230 yards. And last but not least, guess what? There’s ANOTHER Domonkos kicking for Bishop McCort! Dane is just a freshmen so get used to the name. He handles the kickoffs and placekicking. He has 22 kickoffs for 1039 yards and 1 touchback. He is 18-of-19 on PATs and 2-of-5 on field goals with a long of 30.

When McCort has the ball, I feel there is a lot to be concerned about from the Johnstown standpoint. First of all, the Trojans still show the propensity to get beat on the deep, vertical passing game. Seidel and Cruz are worlds better than anyone that the Trojans have faced as far as the receiving game is concerned. It will be vital for the Trojans to jam Cruz off the line, especially in goal line and short yardage situations. McCort called Cruz’ number in two goal line situations Saturday against Westmont. I don’t see any reason this philosophy would change.

The other concern is this multi-faceted running game. Only Holsberger of PC rates up there with the running game that the Crushers bring to the table. The front four needs to stay disciplined in their assignments and bust down that trap should Salem choose to go with it using Lewis. I feel that is truly the threat. Barbin on the perimeter does not have the speed to keep up with the contain ability of Johnstown’s front eight. But this will all be moot if the Trojans can’t stop the pass and the inside running game.

When Johnstown has the ball I really think the opportunity will be their for Hody to pass the ball, but only on quick routes. The offensive line really needs to step up to the challenge because they have not faced a defensive line as good as McCort’s as of yet. If that means using EZ Miller and Greg Webster in max protection sets then so be it.

Because of what I stated above, I also think the between the tackles tough runs of Webster from his FB position will be tough going. That doesn’t mean the running game will be shut down though. Let’s be real, the Crushers have not faced a back with the talent of Antwuan Reed as of yet. On stretch plays and outside runs, I believe he can’t beat the Crusher defenders to the perimeter and get big gains.

Another thing I could see working on the run game is, dare I say it, the option game. Hody has run this package on a limited basis and when he keeps the ball, has gain positive yardage. Why not give it a try early on? If it doesn’t work, scrap it and no harm no foul. Hody does have 121 yards rushing through five games and that’s not all on scrambles.

Back to the passing game, the Trojans shouldn’t be afraid to exploit the advantage they have in Meech Young. There is not a DB in the district that can out jump him to the fade route. This should be on the play sheet regardless of down and distance and regardless of where it is on the field. That is an un-defendable play if executed properly.

Special Teams is where this game could take a drastic turn because of field position. Although Pete Babyak has filled in and done a fine job with the punting duties since Ben Landis’ season ending week two injury, the kicking game isn’t where it was. Freshman Jon Maurizio has taken over the placekicking and the bulk of the kickoff duties. Steve Cinko has chipped in with the kickoffs but the Trojans have been giving up dreadful field position in the kickoff game. Although that didn’t factor against the likes of Richland, Somerset and Bishop Carroll, the Trojans simply cannot give up that type of field position against an offense like McCort’s. Also, Maurizio has improved on his PATs but Domonkos is much more consistent and more experienced than his fellow freshmen counterpart. Coach Salem will put Domonkos out there to kick a field goal way before Coach Arcurio would do the same with Maurizio.

We normally just break down offense, defense and special teams on this feature but I also want to talk about coaching. For the most part, Coach Salem and his staff have had their way with the Trojans since they joined the LHAC. I believe in pride as a motivator and I think this staff at Johnstown knows just that. They need to be on their “A” game this Friday if they are to beat the Crushers. Halftime adjustments must be made early in the game. Even in some of the closer games in this series the scores really didn’t do it justice for the Crushers. Take last year for example, although it was only a seven point loss, McCort controlled the ball for most of the second half and really didn’t give the Trojans a chance to get back and win.

Not that they need any added pressure, but this is a game that one or two bad decisions could truly cost the team a win. After two losses in a row, I really think this staff is up to the challenge.

At the risk of overhyping this thing, this is going to be a battle! This is the type of game you would pay the price of admission to see even if you had no interest or connection to the programs and I suspect that many will do that Friday night.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #8

First the trivia: How many times have the Bedford Bisons played at Trojan Stadium?

And now, to the Bisons of Bedford who enter the game this week with Johnstown sporting a 5-2 record, 3-2 in Section 1 play.

Offensively, there is no question that the leader of Bedford is one Jesse Feaster. He is the leading rusher and receiver on the squad. Through the first six games of the year, Feaster has 551 yards and 6 touchdowns on 59 carries. He has also caught 9 passes for 151 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jeremiah Jaber has chipped in with 61 carries for 249 yards and quarterback Peter Westwood has carried 61 times for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Westwood is 25-of-46 passing on the season with 416 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has no picks on the season. Aside from Feaster, he has targets in Zack Forgas (7 catches, 104 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Levi Clapper (5 catches, 100 yards, 1 touchdown).

Defensively, Jaber’s 85 tackles have been good enough not only to lead the team, but the entire LHAC. Cory Arnold has 63 tackles and Brett Shippey has 53. Jaber also is the Bison leader in sacks with 3.5 with Shippey contributing 2.0. Clapper and Forgas have each intercepted 2 passes on the defensive side of the ball.

Feaster is also Bedford’s key in the special teams game. He has returned 3 punts for 116 yards and 4 kickoffs for 71 yards. The Trojans might serve themselves well by kicking away from him and punting out of bounds as he’s a serious return threat, if not the best in the LHAC. Erik Groat has also returned kicks to the tune of 5 for 57 yards.

Feaster (15 for 506 yards) and Jaber (8 for 209 yards) have split punting duties while Kyler Myers handles kickoffs and place-kicking. Myers is 8-for-16 on PATs and has 24 kickoffs for 873 yards.

Breaking down the matchups for this game, when Bedford has the ball, it’s not rocket science that you have to key on Feaster. Although, Westwood has shown the ability to run the ball on both sneaks and short yardage plays as well as option-type, designed runs. If Bedford wants to deploy the offense, the defensive ends and outside linebackers MUST make the quarterback pay. That means hitting the quarterback whether he pitches the ball or not. Let him know you’re there and that might make him skittish and commit to the pitch earlier than he should. The front four must play better ball and get a better surge against Bedford’s O-Line than they did a week ago. McCort’s line is better than Bedford’s though, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Before we leave the offense, I still stick to the thought that Johnstown can be beaten vertically. I don’t think we’ve seen a team good enough in their passing game (wait until next week and Rearick for that) to exploit that. McCort had no reason to throw as they dominated on the ground. However, a key to the game for the Trojans would be to stuff Feaster and the running game and force the Bisons to pass. I like the Trojans chances if that happens.

On offense, the Trojans must re-establish their running game and get Reed a 100+ game. The key to this is to know where Jaber is and attack him. Iso-type plays need to get him and his ball-hawking ability out of the way. Once Reed gets past the front eight, I like his chances on his third move and getting to the end zone. The Trojans passing game may return to it’s more rightful place: as a complement to Reed. I think last week showed that it might be tough to depend on the passing game 100%. This offense is built around the run and it sets up the pass. There isn’t anything wrong with that per se, you just have to know the limitations.

Special Teams wise, as I said above, keep the ball away from Feaster. Nothing swings momentum more than scoring a touchdown and having the team return the ball to the house on the ensuing kickoff. I’m not saying going the Ken Salem route and kicking out of bounds, but either squib, or kick away from Feaster. Bedford’s kicker is only 50% on PATs and Maurizio has improved but still isn’t at the consistency that Landis was. Should this be a close game, the two-point play could be vitally important for both squads. The Trojans should not only be practicing offensively, but getting ready to stop what the Bisons might have showed on film as far as tendencies on the two pointer.

Like I wrote yesterday, I am confident this can be a win, but the Trojans need to answer the bell. The team and staff were utterly embarrassed by Bishop McCort. They were also embarrassed by Bedford a year ago. Hopefully they have short memories on both those games and will take out their frustration in a productive way by bringing home victory Friday.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #9

This week’s question is pretty easy: when was the last time that the Trojans and Forest Hills played and what was the result?

When one takes a glance at the Forest Hills stat sheet one fact stares you right in the face: this is a balanced offensive team. One with a balance that no other LHAC team can match. Although Travis Rearick gets a lot of ink from the quarterback position (and rightfully so) don’t think this team doesn’t run the ball with success either.

But we’ll start with Rearick as he’s the leader of the team. He is 94-for-150 on the year with 1,519 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has been picked off eight times. Rearick has also rushed the ball 34 times for 104 yards and 4 touchdowns. He’s clearly the premier passer in the LHAC and in the top three to five in the entire district.

What’s even more impressive is that he has spread the ball to several different weapons. Ross Carpenter is the leading receiver with 29 catches for 499 yards and 6 touchdowns. Josh Shope has 22 catches for 365 yards and 6 touchdowns. Scott Mehall has 21 catches for 350 yards and 4 touchdowns. Rounding out the receiving corps, Ricky Gelles has 16 catches for 226 yards and 2 touchdowns.

When the Rangers go to the ground, it’s Jared Kostan who will most likely get the call. Kostan has carried the ball 89 times for 617 yards and 11 touchdowns. Scott Mehall has 56 carries for 551 yards and 8 touchdowns.

On the defensive side of the ball, Shope leads the troops with 55 tackles. David Mehall (46 tackles) and Brad Keller (31 tackles) are also key contributors defensively. Jon McCarthy and David Mehall are co-leaders in sacks with 4 while Kostan has 3. Carpenter and Gilles each have 3 interceptions.

Special Teams also look strong for the Rangers as Carpenter (9 returns for 181 yards) and Gelles (7 returns for 38 yards) share the punt return duties while Brandon McLaughlin gets the bulk of the duties on kickoff returns. He has 11 returns for 240 yards. Rearick handles the punting duties and he is pretty good with 17 punts for 493 yards on the season. He’s dropped 3 punts inside the 20. David Mehall has handled the kickoffs and has booted 51 for a total of 1,589 yards. McLaughlin handles most of the placekicking although Gio Gallina has also contributed. McLaughlin is 19-of-27 on PATs. Gallina is a perfect 2-for-2 on PATs and is 0-for-1 on field goal attempts.

We normally don’t get into the coaching on the Tuesday breakdown but you cannot ignore this as a fourth facet of the game. Don Bailey is the dean of local coaches and has an excellent, seasoned staff. This guys have coached in a lot of big games as pretty much every week is a big deal in Ranger Country. Our staff not only needs to do their normal hard work in game planning but be aware of mid-game adjustments. These guys don’t wait until the half!

When the Rangers have the ball the defense will really have their hands full. Who do you key on? Sure, Rearick is the leader but there is no set offensive star as they spread the wealth. As far as the passing game goes if you key on Carpenter, there are three other guys that are more than capable of making big plays and Rearick is more than able to get them the ball. This isn’t a game where the Trojans can hope to stuff the run and force the pass. You do that, you may be playing to the Rangers’ strength. It is always important to establish the line of scrimmage and I believe that the Trojans will be up to a similar test that they were against McCort. Let’s hope they do better this time because we know that Bailey has no problem going tackle to tackle.

It’s the same song when the Trojans have the ball. We saw what a dominant defensive line did the to the running game against McCort. At week eight it appears that JHS is a team that relies on the run first and uses it merely to set up the pass. The Rangers’ defense is opportunistic when you look at the sack and interception numbers. Look for them to stack the box and shut down Reed and force Johnstown’s hand to the passing game. If they are able to do this, it could be a long night for the Trojans.

The Special Teams for Johnstown came as close as they have to losing a game for the Trojans last week against Bedford. First and foremost they gave up the kickoff return for a score. Second, the blocked PAT would have clearly come back to haunt them if Bedford would have scored at the end of the game because the PAT would have given the Bisons the lead. Forest Hills is clearly a better team than Bedford. Those mistakes will cost you the game against the Rangers.

The bottom line for the Trojans is that this game is very similar to the Bishop McCort game in match-ups. Not necessarily in the skill players but on the line. If FH is able to control the line of scrimmage, they have far too many weapons and will win easily. Hopefully the Trojans have some tricks up their sleeves on defense because what they’ve shown thus far has pretty much been a base package.

Same deal when Johnstown has the ball. If our O-Line doesn’t get the drive off the ball, then it will be three and out and a long night.

Although a home playoff game is already locked up there is still a lot at stake here. Johnstown could possibly get the top seed and play the fourth seeded team come District 6-AAA playoff time. It will be a hostile environment and a playoff-like atmosphere in Sidman this Friday. Here’s to hoping the Trojans are up to the test.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #10

Today’s question is kind of an easy one for those that follow the local sports scene closely: Where did Tyrone coach John Franco prior to coming to the Golden Eagles?

Now, to week ten and Tyrone. The Golden Eagles are 9-0 and are the undisputed champs of not only the Nittany Division of the Mountain Athletic Football Conference but the entire league. They have recorded four shutouts and have outscored their opponents 281-65. They have been ranked in the top ten in the state the entire season and have been the #1 small school team in the Trojan Nation/Southwest PA Sports Blog District 5/6 rankings all year.

That all being said, how good is this team? Of their nine wins, only four of them are with teams with winning records. In other words, almost two-thirds of their schedule has losing records. I think that may have more to do with the MAFC as a league than Tyrone as a team. For example, three of those four wins are playoff bound teams. They beat Huntingdon, the top seed in AAA and Bellwood-Antis the third seed in A. The other two teams are AA in Philipsburg-Osceola and Penns Valley. P-O is sixth in the AA playoffs while PV just missed the eighth and final spot.

Although there are no common opponents at this point of the season, the Trojans do show some similar schedule strength. JHS is 7-2 and of those seven wins, four of them come against teams with winning records. Penn Cambria is the third seed in AA while Bedford is the seventh. Central Cambria and Westmont’s 5-4 records were not good enough for the playoffs. So, while both Tyrone and Johnstown beat four team with winning records, we give the slight edge to Tyrone because they had more teams reach the playoffs and they are higher seeded than Johnstown’s wins.

When you look at the Golden Eagles’ offense, you have to start with the coach’s son, Johnny Franco. He has carried the ball 170 times for 1,220 yards and 18 touchdowns. One of those TD runs was for 97 yards. He has also caught 5 passes for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyler Gillmen has rushed the ball 81 times for 570 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Tyler Golden is the quarterback and his favorite target this season has been Justin Schopp. Schopp is the leading WR in the MAFC-Nittany with 20 catches for 574 yards and 6 touchdowns. Aside from the above mentioned Franco, Shayne Tate has 5 catches for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns and Gillmen has 6 catches for 90 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Golden’s numbers from the signal-caller position have been sharp. He’s 41-for-78 for 935 yards and 10 touchdowns. Not earth-shattering but when you take into the fact that he only has 3 interceptions and his QB rating is 119.

Defensively, nothing on the stat sheet jumps out at you. Tyrone just plays sound, fundamental team defense. They have the already mentioned four shutouts but they have held all their opponents under 20 points. Bellefonte is the only team to score more than two touchdowns against the Tyrone “D”. Jason Reese has 7 sacks while Johnny Shaffer has 6 and Tyler Hoover 5.5. Schopp has picked off two passes.

When it comes to Special Teams Johnny Shaffer handles the placekicking. He is 32-of-39 on PATs on the year and 1-for-1 on field goals. That one FG he made was from 27 yards. Franco seems to be the guy in the return game for both punts and kickoffs.

One must wonder how important the undefeated season is to Coach Franco and the Golden Eagles. Obviously a loss here does nothing for their playoff standings as they enter the 5/6-AA playoffs as the favorite to win the title one way or another.

If this game is played Friday night, one can only guess that both Franco and Arcurio will use a lot of JV players as there is no reward for risking players with injuries to a game that means nothing in the points.

 

Tuesday Trojan Trivia #11

This week’s trivia question: when was the last time the Trojans played Hollidaysburg and what was the result?

Now, a special playoff-edition of “A Look Ahead”. First, let’s look at the Tigers’ results to date:

Altoona L 0-41

Central Mountain W 8-0

Woodson (DC) L 6-26

DuBois W 42-7

Central Dauphin East W 32-20

Mount Carmel W 29-15

Glen Mills L 21-56

Oxford W 33-0

State College L 14-31

Chambersburg W 42-16

Of the six wins Hollidaysburg has, the teams they beat have a combined record of 16-44 while the four loses come to teams with a combined record of 27-14. In contrast, Johnstown’s seven wins are against teams with a .500 record of 34-34 while the teams they lost to are 26-3.

But this is the playoffs and what you’ve done in the past has no meaning on this game. It’s a one-game season and we only offer these numbers as food for thought.

Now, to the team. Junior RB Brad Nocek is the leader on the ground. On the season the 5’9” 180 pounder has toted the rock 144 times for 658 yards and 8 scores. Senior Fullback Matt Wimbush doesn’t just complement the run, he’s a bona fide second choice in the run. The 6’2” 225 pounder has 448 yards and 8 touchdowns of his own on 448 carries on the year. I think of them as a Bettis-Parker change of pace like the Steelers had going last year. David Glunt has 4 rushing scores while Nick Milardo has 3.

6’5” 200 pound senior junior Patrick Smith is the Tigers’ QB. On the surface, Smith’s numbers aren’t very impressive at all. He is 63-for-142 on the season with only two touchdowns, meanwhile he’s been picked off nine times. However, in the Tigers’ win over Chambersburg last week he was a perfect 8-for-8 for 101 yards and complemented the Tigers’ run attack quite nicely. Jared Wilson is the leader pass catcher with 21 receptions for 263 yards and 1 score. Brock Porter has 15 catches for 143 yards and 1 score.

Defensively, Glunt leads the Tigers with 75 tackles while John Zabinsky has 3 sacks. Brian Baum has 2 sacks. The most impressive stat on the Tigers’ sheet shows the team is as opportunistic as they come. As a team they have picked off 10 passes. David Lafferty leads the charge with 4 whild Nocek has 3 and Justin Gildea has two.

Special Teams shows that Nocek is the story in the return game. He has returned 17 punts for 328 yards and 13 kickoffs for 278 yards. Smith handles the punting duties and he has 43 punts for 1,488 yards on the season. Brock Porter handles the kicking duties and is quite good. He has 36 kickoffs for 1,585 yards and 3 touchbacks. Porter is also 19-for-21 on PATs and has made 3 field goals including a long of 34 yards.

If past history plays out Saturday, I would look for the Tigers to run early to establish that part of their game. It seems as they have an inside-outside strategy with a small, speedy tailback and big, hard-nosed fullback. Not only to you have to stop the run, but both styles of it. Although the passing numbers aren’t off the chart, they could use the passing game in very specific situations. Similar to the way McCort uses Cruz in short yardage and goal line situations. If the Trojans are to be successful they have to stop the run and as we mentioned yesterday, if that takes a gimmick defense or switch in strategy so be it. Hollidaysburg’s staff has to like what it sees on film as far as what running teams have done. If JHS stops the run, I like the team’s chances against Hollidaysburg’s passing attack.

When Johnstown has the ball I would look for that short to intermediate passing game, preferable three step drops and maybe even some shotgun sprinkled in. But either way, quick releases should be the mode of aerial assault. The longer Hody has to drop back and the more reads he has just give the Tiger defense more time on coverage and they’ve shown the propensity to make the pick. Also, Smith is the tallest guy on the roster at 6’5” and he doesn’t appear to be a regular on defense. Use Young’s size to mismatch not only in the fade pattern but all the way down the field.

Of course, none of the above means to abandon the run. Both Reed and Webster should factor in the game plan heavily. It’s no secret that Reed is the top player and going to get the ball. It’s also no secret that teams are going to key on him. If the Tiger defense is loosened up with the short passing game, this could have them on their heels and open up the passing game.

The biggest concern on special teams would be Nocek’s return ability. The Trojans haven’t exactly been stellar on kick coverage this year gave up a touchdown to Jesse Feaster in the Bedford game. The coverage units need to stay in their lanes and breakdown on Hollidaysburg’s return team. I think Babyak’s punting has been a pleasant surprise and has helped Johnstown in field position at times. Maurizio has been pretty solid in kicking after a rough start. In fact, he’s 9-for-12 since assuming the placekicking duties. Slight advantage to the Tigers since they’ve been successful on the field goal attempt while we’ve yet to try one.

The Trojans can win this game if they can stop the run, but that’s a big if. Hopefully, the guys are up to the challenge and at this time next week we’re preparing to return to Mansion Park for a district championship.

But first things first…

 

 

 

 

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