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2008 Scouting Report

Scouting Report #1

8/28/08

Welcome to the first installment of the Scouting Report, the revamped version of “A Look Ahead” from years past. With only two preseason scrimmages to go on, we’re going to wing it a little this week but in the future, look for more in-depth analysis from this page each week.

Following the breakdown of JHS/Bedford, I’ll give a brief preview of each LHAC match-up as well as the other District 6-AAA teams in action.

 

Week one has the Bedford Bisons coming into Trojan Stadium to take on our Men of Troy. The Bisons are in their first season under the tutelage of head coach Dan Smith. One shouldn’t look for too many changes in the look of the Bedford program though, because although this is Smith’s first season as a varsity head coach, he’s been in the Bedford system for 33 years. He was the head coach of the junior high team for ten years and has been a varsity assistant the rest of the time.

Even with the graduation of fullback Matt Henry, there are plenty of guys looking to step up and take that place in the Bison offense. It is an essential position in the formation because of the ability to set up the misdirection type plays with the running backs and wing backs.

In recent years under Wes Swaim, the Bisons opened things up a little more through the air. Although no one was going to confuse those teams with a Mike Martz run offense, it definitely had more passing than some seasons under the venerable Max Shoemaker.

A nice luxury for Smith is to have quarterback Mike Short returning. Not only is throwing key in this offense but ball-faking as well. The Johnstown front eight show some solid play stopping the run in the preseason and will need to continue that play but at the same time mind their assignments and stay home because Bedford has some speed on the edges and can be tough on the counters, misdirection plays and reverse action.

More importantly for the Trojans’ defense is the pass defense, more specifically the secondary. Central Cambria was able to find spots in the zone as well as use motion and misdirection roll outs to get men open downfield. Although the Bisons might not be the threat to throw that say, a Richland are, the players and coaches need to mindful of obvious passing situations and get in position correctly so as not to give up the big play.

When the Trojans have the ball, look for a well-balanced attack as many different players got involved in the preseason and although Coach Marabito lost the area’s best player in Antwuan Reed, there are still many options. One thing to predict in this point in the season is that the passing game may be a bit more proficient this year. Even with junior Richard Agurs injured during camp, fellow junior Jordan Jefferson looked to be picking up where he left off last year and there are a host of others lining up at wide-out that appear ready to step up to the challenge. Marcus Seals, Carlton Wyatt and Donnie McKinley are all adding depth at the wide receiver position. Whether John Sicilano, Gervon Simon or John King are throwing passes, they’ll have a wealth of weapons, and some taller targets, to choose from.

In the running game, all signs point to Quadir Christian have a good camp and looking ready to step in at tailback. Although the bulk of the running package hasn’t been shown in the preseason, Christian has made some strong runs and has shown above average speed on both the artificial turf of Trojan Stadium and the natural stuff at Central Cambria. Look for fullback Kashmir Pretlor to add the inside pop and change of pace like he did at times a year ago. He can get the tough yards as well as be a key blocker in the two back sets.

One of the more exciting things to see this year is how the spread offense pans out. The unit showed a little shotgun in the scrimmages but obviously didn’t want to show too much. I really like the idea of the read option with the quarterback making the call. Simon looked pretty good in this role during the Blairsville scrimmage but both he and Siciliano have gotten snaps in the formation. This style of offense has been something the coaches have wanted to put in place since 2006 and it looks like it’s finally working out. The team experiment with great success, using a wildcat style formation with Reed or Will Harris taking direct snaps a year ago. The spread we’ll see this year looks to be an extension of that.

Something to watch will be the fact that Bedford likes to run a base 53 defense. With eight guys in the box, the shotgun spread could be a great way to neutralized their front eight, while at the same time getting the faster guys to the outside edge and take advantage of the wide fields the hash marks of the high school game give you. If the Bisons get five guys along the line in a five-point stance, there may be some plays that those interior three guys don’t ever get a chance to be a factor in the play.

Moving to the third phase and special teams, not too much to comment on as the preseason doesn’t really lend itself to seeing live units in action. Jon Maurizio will handling the punting and placekicking duties once again. The coaches look for him to improve in the punting and kicking off duties while maintaining his solid status as an extra point kicker. I look for Jon to get a few chances at short range field goals this year. (When was the last time a Trojan kicker made a field goal attempt?)

In the return game, Christian will be a big factor as well as probably LaQuinn Stephens-Howling as long as his preseason injuries have healed up. As far as the coverage teams, I’ll have to just say “more to come” on those as none of them have seen live action yet. One word of advice: “STAY IN YOUR LANES!!!!”

Wrapping up, Bedford poses a great week one challenge for the Trojans. The Bisons will not be 2-8 again and they can look to a year ago against the Trojans as they hung tough against a JHS team that ultimately won five more games than them a year ago. With a new coach and fresh outlook on things, I look for the Bisons to come out strong, and if they are allowed to stay in the game they could make things tough for Johnstown.

On the other hand, word is that Bedford really didn’t impress in preseason although I’ve never put too much stock in what a particular team looks like in scrimmage season. No one is game planning nor showing too much in the way of their playbook on both sides of the ball. I don’t expect a blowout, but look for a tough “W” earned by the Trojans Friday night. They’ll do it in a fashion they’ve come accustomed to recently. They have won their past three week one contests by five, eight and six points respectively with each of their opponents (Central Cambria, Penn Cambria and Central) having legitimate chances to win the game in the final quarter.

And I’ll end this with a final bit of Trojan trivia, JHS hasn’t lost a week one contest since 2002. It was against…..the Bedford Bisons!

 

The rest of the LHAC and District 6-AAA

Central Cambria at Bishop Carroll:  welcome to the Ebensburg version of the “City Game” pitting public versus private school. CC looks like they have a nice team and BC may be done rebuilding and may be back to their past winning ways this year. Great game to kick off the season for this community.

Penn Cambria at Richland:  Can Brandon Bailey’s Rams keep up their winning ways after losing Pecora to graduation? Time will tell, but they looked pretty good against Windber in the preseason. Coach Fetzer’s Panthers are looking to start the season off with a good road win. This may be a pretty evenly matched, non-sectional contest.

Bishop Guilfoyle at Westmont:  Marty Georgiana has Chris Brown back to run the Marauder offense and BG will look to make another play for the 6-A title this year. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Price Field on a Saturday afternoon is a killer. Matt Glennon is another first year coach in the LHAC and he has the Hilltoppers working under a whole new attitude. Take the Hilltoppers in a close one.

Cambria Heights at Bishop McCort:  I said in my preview that I don’t expect Justin Myers’ Highlanders to go winless again this year but they most certainly will not pick up their young coach’s maiden win at the Point Stadium this weekend. With the carnival-like atmosphere of FolkFest in the background, look for the Crushers to roll.

Somerset at Forest Hills:  The Rangers are young but experienced as a lot of underclassmen got playing time last year. Zack Glessner will be one of the premier signal-callers in the conference by the end of the season. Rangers will at home.

 

District 6-AAA - (6-AAA team in BOLD)

St. Marys at Bellefonte: The Red Raiders host St. Marys, a Class AAA team from District 9.

State College at Hollidaysburg: The Golden Tigers, defending district champs, will host State College in a game that has replaced their rivalry with Altoona that isn’t played anymore. The Little Lions have too much firepower, they will be too much for Hollidaysburg to overcome.

West Perry at Indian Valley: The Warriors host West Perry, a District 3-AAA team, in their season opener.

 

Scouting Report #2

Off to week two and Forest Hills. The Trojans travel to Sidman to take on the Rangers and this year’s FH squad is a lot better than the team from a year ago. Don Bailey is not used to many losing seasons and last year will be proved to be an aberration as I look for the Rangers to cruise through Section 1 and be on of the top seeds in the District 5/6-AA playoff bracket.

But let’s not put the cart before the horse; let’s talk Friday night. The Trojans’ defense will face a one-two punch of quarterback Zack Glessner and running back Scott Mehall. They are by far a more talented duo of skill players than anyone on Bedford (no knock on Mike Short and Patrick Brett, they’re good, I just think these guys are better, and they play behind a much better offensive line as well).

Mehall is looking like he could be one of the top all-purpose backs in the conference this year as he had 86 yards rushing and 110 yards receiving in the Rangers’ opening week victory over Somerset. So, by land or by air, these Rangers are a threat as Glessner shows signs of great potential last year as just a sophomore. In past years, even with solid quarterbacks like Travis Rearick, the Rangers have exploited the Trojans on the ground. It is for that reason that I look to Forest Hills to establish to run very early in this game.

Coach Bailey and his staff will probably tell you they think their squad is a year away from great things but I truly believe this team will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Although they were 4-6 last year and the team is still young, many of those players got valuable experience in 2007 and took their lumps. This is only going to make them stronger. They return five starters on either side of the ball.

When Johnstown is on defense there really is not much to say except that the eleven players must stay disciplined and execute their assignment. With a team that appears to be balanced like Forest Hills you cannot really focus too much on any one key element but if you had to pick one, you’d think Coach Marabito would stress stopping the run, especially based on what the Rangers were able to do with a Johnstown team two seasons ago. Even with an accomplished quarterback, Coach Bailey took what the Trojans gave him and he ran the ball down JHS’ throats. Best believe if he sees something similar on film, you can expect three yards and a cloud of dust.

For Johnstown to have a chance to win this game, the defense must get some takeaways. An interception and fumble recovery like a week ago would be huge, much bigger than in a game against a team like Bedford.

When the Trojans have the ball, they can expect a variety of defensive looks from the Rangers. However, with the success Johnstown had running the ball, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few five and six man defensive lines. That being said, you can look for the Trojans to air it out. Coaches Marabito and Penna did a nice job mixing up things last week, not only within the running game but mixing in the pass as well and this could be a week to see more passing from the Trojans “O”.

In Special Teams play, Pat Donoughe kicks while the punter will be either Nick Dudukovich or Jon McCarty. On the Trojans’ side of things, look for Jon Maurizio to factor in with the field position game again. You can’t underestimate how big it is to have a kicker in the high school game with the ability to place touchbacks on kickoffs. Forcing a team to start at their own 20 is a big advantage at the prep level and look for Jon and his big leg to continue that.

Elsewhere in the LHAC:

Bishop Carroll (1-0) at Bedford (0-1)

Coach Sponsky appears to have scrapped the spread for the flexbone attack and it looks like it has paid dividends so far. The Huskies will improve to 2-0 over an outclassed Bedford Bisons squad. Quarterback Shawn Perich is well equipped to run the option attack and between him and pitching it to Brendan Julock, it will be a long time for Coach Smith's defense.

Bishop McCort (1-0) at Bishop Guilfoyle (1-0)

A non-sectional Battle of the Bishops as McCort gets on the bus and heads to Mansion Park. The venue is like a home away from home for Ken Salem's program but this is the first regular season appearance the Crushers have made in almost 15 years. Look for the Crushers to improve to 2-0 and get back into the state top ten at Class A as they just have too many weapons on offense (and Westy transfer Chaz Merriman hasn't even really gotten in the mix yet).

Somerset (0-1) at Cambria Heights (0-1)

Could a home game against a Somerset squad that Forest Hills blew out last week be the remedy to get Justin Myers' his maiden victory as Head Coach of the Highlanders? In front of a home crowd in Patton, look for the ever so mild upset here as offense mainstays Caleb Vescovi and Jeremy Priester lead CH to victory.

Westmont (0-1) at Penn Cambria (0-1)

It's always an interesting side story when Ernie Fetzer coaches against Westmont but that is a minor plot line here as Matt Glennon looks to get his first victory as a head coach. Look for a lot of T.J. Keklak both from the traditional running back position and taking direct snaps in a wildcat-like formation to keep the Panthers at bay while Glennon's 3-5 defense will keep PC's trips to the end zone to a minimum.

Richland (1-0) at Central Cambria (0-1)

A Red Devil loss could mean the beginning of a disappointing season as they entered the campaign with high hopes. A Ram win could mean that Brandon Bailey's squad is on its way to being more than a one-year wonder (although I'll wait until section play starts to make that call). This one is the most interesting of all the week two LHAC match-ups in my eyes and nearly too close to call, but I'll give CC the benefit of the doubt with the home field advantage.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Brookville (1-0) at Bellefonte (1-0)

The Red Raiders host Brookville, a District 9-AA squad. This one is a toss-up.

South Western (1-0) at Hollidaysburg (0-1)

After the spanking the Golden Tigers took last week against State College, look for them to get back on the winning track this week. Plus, South Western is a District 3-AAAA school with one win, which means they'll get a whopping 130 points for the win.

Indian Valley (1-0) at Central (1-0)

The 6-AA Scarlet Dragons scored a great win a week ago, but they will be a little overmatched by the AAA Warriors. IV improves to 2-0.

 

Scouting Report #3

9/11/08

So here we are in Week 3 and section play already, before you know it we'll be reflecting on another high school football season come and gone and how things move too fast! Oh well, let's enjoy it one week at a time as we have it.

The Westmont Hilltoppers will make the short trip to Trojan Stadium to take on Johnstown. This series has been pretty even in the short time of JHS being in the LHAC, with Westmont leading 4-3. The Hilltoppers have won three of the last four meetings with the Trojans.

Offensively, the Hilltoppers are led by QB Josh Swick, RB T.J. Keklak and TE Mike Valcheff. These three are important players to key on for the Trojans defense. Although the Hilltoppers tend to go more on the ground than via air, one thing they need to be mindful of is the halfback pass. Matt Glennon seems to have kept this a staple in the Westy playbook like his predecessors Darren McLaurin and Skip Skowron did. Keklak has attempted a few passes this year and he also is able to take direct snaps in what may be a version of the wildcat offense. I wouldn't look for this to be an extensive part of the game plan for the Hilltoppers, but definitely a wrinkle to be aware of.

Keklak leads Hilltop with 260 yards of rushing, gaining over 100 in each of their two contests this year. Valcheff posterized some kid from PC as was seen on WJAC's highlight package and is a load. At 6'3" 250 (ding....sorry old Dan Patrick Show joke), he's a big target for Swick or whoever else might throw him the ball. He's caught touchdowns in both the Hilltoppers games thus far.

On the other side of the ball, Westmont really hasn't reported much in the way of defensive stats. John Valcheff and Tyler Duplin both recored five total tackles in Westmont's first game. However, looking at the roster, Matt Glennon has two 300-pounders listed as two-way lineman in Brandon Zeris and Justin Ketchum but isn't known if those are guys clogging up the middle on defense. With the probable loss of FB Kashmir Pretlor, Coach Marabito will be looking for someone to step up and get those tough, tackle-to-tackle carries. Gerald Jones, Jerrell Hardison, John Sweet, Zayne Jenkinson, Jason Santichen and Daveon Simms are all guys listed as fullbacks on the Trojans' roster and hopefully one or a combination of those guys can step up and fill that gap. Look for the halfback spot to be occupied by Quadir Christian while Quatrell Rose spelling him (they should call them the "Q Crew" or something?!). With the athleticism of QB John Siciliano, I would look for some more designed running plays this week as well.

Special teams continues to be a strong point for the Trojans because Jon Maurizio continues to boot at least two kickoffs each game into the end zone for a touchback. Add that to his strong and accurate extra point/field goal prowess and his improving punting skills, he might just be one of the best all around kickers in the LHAC. On Westmont's side, all that is known right now is that Stephan Chessa, also a wide receiver with two catches on the year, handles the place-kicking duties.

As is the case most Friday nights (or Saturday afternoons), establishing the line of scrimmage will be key. Johnstown has a veteran line, led by David Istanich and they will have a chance to go up against a defense that allowed Penn Cambria's Zak Newton 255 yards on the ground a week ago. I think that bodes well for the Trojans on offense and on defense, if JHS was able to bottle that momentum that shut down a very good offensive team in Forest Hills (one much better than Westmont in my opinion), they should be fine.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC

Forest Hills (2-0) at Bedford (0-2)

Sectional play opens with this showdown of bitter rivals as Don Bailey's Rangers travel to Bedford to take on Dan Smith's Bisons. This is a case of two teams going in different directions and I look for Forest Hills to roll. It's a safe bet that after blowing a 21-0 lead against Johnstown a week ago, things will be a bit more focused this week at practice. Glessner, Mehall and Rosenberger will put up big numbers in this blowout.

Cambria Heights (1-1) at Bishop Guilfyole (1-1)

The Highlanders got off the schneid last week against Somerset but they won't continue their winning ways against the Marauders this week. Chris Brown and company were mighty impressive against McCort just a week ago and this should be just what the doctor ordered to get back on the winning side of the ledger.

Penn Cambria (1-1) at Central Cambria (1-1)

It's goal post trophy time and Central Cambria is currently in possession of the prize but Ernie Fetzer's team is ready to take it back. Zak Newton had a helluva birthday last week as he rushed for 255 yards.  For me, this is the best game of the week in the LHAC and too close to call.

Richland (1-1) at Bishop Carroll (2-0)

I'm looking for Craig Sponsky's Huskies to improve to 3-0 and win in a high-scoring affair with the Richland Rams. BC will be fine, so long as they don't get caught looking ahead to their Week 4 match-up with Bishop McCort. The Rams high-powered, pass-happy offense will have to match score for score should they want to stay in this game.

Bishop McCort (2-0) at Somerset (0-2)

After losing to Cambria Heights last week, it is really beginning to look like Somerset was a one-year wonder and they are back to their normal place towards the bottom of the LHAC standings. Chase Dykstra is a very good running back, but he alone won't be enough to stop the Crimson Crushers from improving to 3-0.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Bellefonte (2-0) at Central (2-0, 6-AA)

The Scarlet Dragons of Central Martinsburg are off to their best start in years and have already defeated one 6-AAA team in Indian Valley and they will try to do the same this week against Bellefonte. I think the Red Raiders will be up to the task at hand and stay unbeaten and in the process, handing Central their first loss of the young season.

H.D. Woodson (DC) (0-2) at Hollidaysburg (1-1)

Woodson has a tough deal here traveling all the way to Central PA to take on the Golden Tigers of Hollidaysburg. Woodson is 0-2 and has been outscored by their opponents 75-35. They appear to have a bear of a schedule, their first two losses were away games in Ohio and according to their schedule on MaxPreps, they only have one home game (although they are part of the DCIAA and many of their opponents are fellow Washington DC area schools). The travel will be too much for the Warriors to overcome and I look for Hollidaysburg to win big.

Indian Valley (1-1) at Clearfield (1-1, 9-AAA)

The Bison are a District 9-AAA squad and they are coming off a 35-0 shutout win over Philipsburg-Osceola while the IV Warriors are looking to bounce back from the afore mentioned loss to Central. This is a pretty close match-up on paper and I would make it a "pick 'em" game.

 

Scouting Report #4

9/18/08

Kevin Marabito’s Johnstown Trojans will take the short bus trip to Richland High School, right near the beautiful campus of my beloved alma mater the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and will take on Brandon Bailey’s 2008 Rams’ football team.

It should come to no one’s surprise that Coach Bailey likes to throw the ball. With or without Marco Pecora, the system is in place that will see passing as the first option, probably the only LHAC team to operate under this philosophy.

In control of this high-powered attack is junior Giovanni Ramires. Through three games, he is 54-of-84 for 829 yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s been picked off once. Yes, that’s right, after his fourth game of the year, he could already eclipse the 1,000-yard mark.

Ramires’ favorite targets are Tim Ripple (16 catches, 264 yards and 4 touchdowns) and Nate Adam (14 catches, 229 yards and 3 touchdowns). Jordan Rozich has also figured in the passing game early this season with 12 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown.

When Coach Bailey opts for the run, the workhorse thus far has been Jordan Curcija who had 15 carries for 139 yards and 2 touchdowns. Ramires has also rushed the ball 44 times but for only 18 yards (many probably sacks) and he’s scored one touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, Curcija appears to be the leader of this unit with 34 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Chad Miller (24 tackles), Ripple (19 tackles), Doug Tiffany (18 tackles) and Brooks Lohr (15 tackles) round out this group. Lohr and Miller each have a sack while Ripple has two interceptions. Tiffany and Adam have also picked off passes and Lohr has recovered a fumble.

To the third phase and special teams, John George has connected on 13 extra points while Adam and Robert Carbaugh have shared kicking off duties. Ramires handles the punting, which means you always have to be aware of the fake or busted play. He has 8 punts for 262 yards this year.

In the return game Ripple has returned 8 punts for 51 yards while Jordan Cinko leads the Rams’ group of kickoff return men with 5 returns for 118 yards.

My analysis on this game will be simple as I’m going to defer to something Coach Kevin Marabito said earlier this week: the Trojans’ best defense tomorrow night will be their offense. The offense needs to sustain long drives and put points on the board, thus keeping this explosive Rams’ offensive unit on the sideline. And really, that’s not accurate as many of the Rams’ offensive players are two-way guys, so the longer the Trojans’ “O” stays on the field, the more tired those guys that are supposed to be doing a lot of running around on offense are going to get.

The Trojans do not want to get into a shootout, match score-for-score type of game with Richland. The Achilles heel of the defense for the past few years has been defending the passes and teams with lesser passing games have been able to exploit that.

Although the Trojans will really miss the hard-nosed running of Kashmir Pretlor is this contest, they should rest assured in that the offensive line was able to do enough offensively to net 181 yards on the ground and 91 of those were Quadir Christian. I think it’s a safe bet to say we’ll see a healthy dosage of #25 Friday night.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC

Bedford (0-3) at Penn Cambria (2-1)

Another case of two teams going in different directions and I look for the Bisons to drop to 0-4 on the heels of another big night from Zak Newton.

Bishop Guilfoyle (2-1) at Forest Hills (3-0)

Look for the Marauders to play the Rangers hard, but at the end of four quarters the better team will prevail and that is Forest Hills. There is too much talent at the skill positions on Don Bailey’s squad for Class A Bishop Guilfoyle to keep up.

Central Cambria (1-2) at Cambria Heights (1-2)

The Red Devils have been a disappointment to this point as they entered the season with high hopes. I look for the upset here and the Highlanders will be at .500 for the first time since I don’t know how long. Look for a big game from the running back that no one talks about in Jeremy Priester.

Bishop Carroll (2-1) at Bishop McCort (3-0)

Battle of the Bishops, Johnstown vs. Ebensburg style. I’m not sure whether Julock and Perich are still suspended but I don’t think it would matter either way. Crushers roll and remain undefeated.

Somerset (0-3) at Westmont (1-2)

The Golden Eagles will have to wait to get their maiden win of the season because I don’t see them invading Price Field, where the Hilltoppers play great, and being victorious. Look for a big game from T.J.Keklak. The Johnstown Trojan defense and the weather held him to just 32 yards a week ago. He’ll break the century mark and get rookie skip Matt Glennon to .500.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Hollidaysburg (2-1) at Bellefonte (2-1)

This could be a preview of the 6-AAA title game. I give Hollidaysburg the slightest of edges here but this will be a close one.


DuBois (2-1) at Indian Valley (1-2)

If IV pulled off an upset here they’d get a lot of points help as DuBois is a Quad A school. However, it’s not going to happen as DuBois is a very athletic squad.

 
Scouting Report #5

9/25/08

We’re on the road again to Somerset. Yes, we played them a year ago at their stadium but remember back in 2006 they were good enough to give us the home date for the 1,000th game, which was originally scheduled for a home game for Somerset.

The Trojans will be looking to avoid the repeat performance from a year ago and will hope to build on the momentum from last week’s win over Richland.

When Steve Costea’s Golden Eagles have the ball, Chase Dykstra appears to be the star. The senior has rushed the ball 34 times for 271 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Trevor Niemiec has 5 rushing touchdowns and has carried the ball 30 times for 146 yards. Also in the mix in the running game is the Adam “Don’t Call Me Pac Man” Jones with 25 carries for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns.

As the Trojans learned last year, even though the Golden Eagles run a option-based primarily run-oriented offense, they are able to pass the ball. Niemiec is 9-of-20 for 139 yards and 1 touchdown. He’s been picked off once as well. Ryan Fisher is the lead wide-out with 8 receptions for 175 yards and a touchdown (obviously, he’s had some passes from the backup quarterback to get those numbers).

On the defensive side of the ball, the ranks are led by a wide cast of characters including Jones (42 tackles), Josh Beistel (36 tackles) and Joseph Svonavec (33 tackles). Gunnar Smith has come up with 2 sacks and Josh Proctor has recovered 2 fumbles.

To the Special Teams, the return game is led by familiar names in Dykstra (3 kick returns, 93 yards) and Fisher (5 kick returns, 61 yards). A name we haven’t mentioned is Michael Carlipio with 6 kick returns for 77 yards. Niemiec handles the punt returns, but stats on him were limited.

As for the kicking game, Niemiec handles the punting. On the season he has 11 punts for 353 yards and has dropped 3 In 20. Nathan Coughenour handles the field goal/extra points and on the year he has four PATs. As for kickoffs, it’s been by committee with Coughenour (4 kickoffs, 104 yards), Justin Schrock (2 kickoffs, 80 yards) and Brandon Sarver (5 kickoffs, 207 yards)

My keys to this game in all three phases are this:

Offense: keep on keeping on. The balance of passes and runs has been good thus far and the speed of the team is coming through. Christian, Jefferson and Siciliano all show above average speed. The coaches should continue to use the spread, shotgun formations because that puts this team in a great position to win. Keep that slip screen in your back pocket until the right time and it will go for a big game. That combined with the occasional deep ball will keep this Somerset defense on their heels all night.

Defense: keep on Dykstra, but don’t neglect the quarterback. As is always the case when facing an option attack, abuse that quarterback. Hit him hard enough that he’ll think twice before going those extra steps down the line before the pitch. It’s doubly tough to defend the option when the team shows an competence in the passing game. A lot of discipline is needed from your secondary as the tendency might be to bite on the run. As was seen last week, the team is still giving up some big pass plays. That being said, they also came up with two interceptions. Building on those positives and scheming to get guys like Sisco and Williams in position to make those big plays will be key.

Special Teams: we have to spend a lot of time and pay a lot of attention to this phase this week. Big plays and mental mistakes in the kicking game helped Somerset win a year ago in a kickoff out of bounds and a huge return. Dykstra is a great runner and I understand trying to keep the ball out of his hands, but you have to be careful with that. The one positive is that this year, Maurizio appears to have gotten stronger and is booting more balls into the end zone for the touchback. Hopefully that will continue Friday night.

Looking at things on paper makes this a tough one on the surface. By all accounts, Somerset appeared to be reverting to their pre-2007 form and slipping backwards. However, they took a Westmont team that beat JHS to overtime and then beat them at Price Field. I’d really like to say the rain and conditions of the Westy game make that a bad measure to compare other things to and I give the team a pass there. I look for a Trojan win here, not as high scoring as last year’s game, more like the game against Richland.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC

Bedford (0-4) at Central Cambria (2-2)

Look for a steady diet of Andrew O'Saben as Ken Bussard's Red Devils will keep Bedford winless.

Penn Cambria (3-1) at Bishop Guilfoyle (2-2)

This one is too close to call for me and is probably the most even head-to-head contest of the week. Ernie Fetzer has the Panthers looking good early and BG will be one of the top dogs in the 6-A scene. The trip to Altoona would be worth just to see two of the best skiller players in the conference in Zak Newton of PC and Chris Brown of BG.

Forest Hills (4-0) at Cambria Heights (1-3)

Don Bailey will have little problem defeating his former player Justin Myers and his Cambria Heights Highlanders. Glessner, Mehall, Rosenberger will most likely be done in the third quarter and leave the final stanza to the reserves. The Ranger defense will make Highlanders' standout RB Jeremy Priester earn his yards. Look for this unit to hold him under 100 yards.

Westmont (1-3) at Bishop Carroll (2-2)

Interesting match-up as both squads look to bounce back from losses a week ago. I have to give the edge to BC as I see their skill players being able to make more big plays in this one.

Bishop McCort (4-0) at Richland (2-2)

Sure it was a huge win for the Rams' last year over the Crushers, one of those program-defining type wins. Brandon Bailey would like nothing more than to do the trick two years in a row, this time at home in front of what one can guess will be a SRO crowd. I don't think Richland can do it two years in a row. QB was a question mark going into the year but Jack Schrey has developed into one of the better signal callers in the LHAC. Oh, and the Crushers have a bevy of running backs to handle the load, led by Lowry and Wadley.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Indian Valley (2-2) at Hollidaysburg (3-1)

I look for the Golden Tigers to continue their stranglehold of the 6-AAA standings by easily defeating IV.

Bellefonte (2-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (1-3)

The Red Raiders need to bounce back but don't be fooled by P-O's record. This one will be closer than you might think but I still see Bellefonte being victorious.

 

Scouting Report #6

10/2/08

The Trojans are back home but they will play under the Saturday Night Lights as the Bishop Carroll Huskies invade Trojan Stadium in a key sectional game in the LHAC.

Reports are that Coach Craig Sponsky has scrapped the shotgun spread and has returned to the old wishbone/flexbone attack. The catalyst in said attack is running back Brendan Julock. Julock has carried the ball 85 times for 717 yards and 5 touchdowns. Also contributing in the running game are Matt Repko (22 carries, 177 yards and 2 touchdowns) and Christian Woo (22 carries, 137 yards). Also strong in the running game is quarterback Shawn Perich with 32 carries for 99 yards and 1 touchdown.

Although the Huskies go at it primarily on the ground, when they do go to the air, Perich is 11-for-30 passing for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has been picked off four times. Repko is the leading receiver with 7 catches for 122 yards and 1 touchdown. (Perich did not play in one of BC’s games this year.)

Defensive leaders for BC include Robbie Maruca (53 tackles) and Josh Chumrik (52 tackles). Derek Semetosky has 9 sacks while Repko has 6 and Chumrik has 3. Repko and Perich each have 1 INT while Semetosky has 2 fumble recoveries and has blocked a punt.

Finally, to Special Teams and the return game. Repko has 6 punt returns for 44 yards and 3 kickoff returns for 38 yards. Woo has 5 kickoff returns for 84 yards and Josh Schall has 4 kick returns for 34 yards.

In the kicking game James McCombie handles the punting and he has done it 17 times for 694 yards and has dropped 2 inside the 20 this year. Kicking off is shared between Luke Paronish (14 for 568 yards) and Joe Shook (7 for 253) while Karl Yauneridge handles place kicking and has converted 10 PAT attempts this year.

So, in closing I offer a few keys to victory. On offense, the Trojans will need to establish the run. If the BC defense has been able to do one thing good it’s defend the pass (18 sacks and 2 INTs among their leaders). Not that the Trojans won’t be able to pass, but if the run, especially out of the spread, is effective, this will make any advantage the Huskies might have defending the pass weaker.

As far as the JHS defense, they’ll need to do what they did against Somerset and more. The BC option attack is much better than Somerset’s. They have not only better skill players running the system but a bigger, better line.

This is a game that the Trojans should win, albeit it will be a close one. Over the past two weeks, the Trojans have been very physical on defense and the offense has had many players stepping it up and contributing. Look for that trend to continue this week.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC

Bishop Guilfoyle (3-2) at Bedford (0-5)

The Bisons might not win a game this season at this rate. BG on the other hand could make some noise in the 6-A playoffs. Take the Marauders in a rout.

Cambria Heights (1-4) at Penn Cambria (3-2)

Look for the Highlanders to bounce back from the sixty-point drubbing they took from Forest Hills a week ago. They'll hang for about a half with the Panthers but the separation will occur in the second half and Zak Newton and company will take care of business going way.

Forest Hills (5-0) at Central Cambria (3-2)

The Rangers look REALLY good right now and although I would expect a packed house for this sectional clash I don't see FH losing.

Bishop McCort (5-0) at Westmont (1-4)

Westmont is a tough team to figure out. They beat Johnstown but lose to Somerset. They have a lot more talent than their 1-4 record shows and they are playing their arch-rival Crushers on their home turf. Stranger things have happen, and that's why they play the games, but I see Ken Salem's team winning this one with ease.

Richland (2-3) at Somerset (1-4)

Having seen both teams in person I have to give the slightest of advantages to Richland. The Rams' ability to connect in the passing game will be the difference. Somerset had plays open in the game with JHS but weren't able to connect. In a "basketball on grass" type game you always give the advanatage to a Brandon Bailey-coached team.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

DuBois (3-2) at Bellefonte (3-2)

DuBois has shown that they are a beatable AAAA team and Bellefonte will do just that and beat them.

Hollidaysburg (4-1) at Central Mountain (3-2)

The Golden Tigers will continue their dominance, knocking off Quad-A Central Mountain. Sure CM is 3-2 but there aren't any quality wins there (Jersey Shore and Williamsport are both 1-4 and Bald Eagle is 2-3) and they've lost to AA Tyrone.

Huntingdon (2-3) at Indian Valley (2-3)

IV will prevail at home after a rough one against Hollidaysburg last week.

 

Scouting Report #7

10/9/08

It's Week Seven and that means one thing: the City Game is upon us. The Trojans return to their previous home, the Point Stadium, now exclusive stomping grounds to the Bishop McCort Crimson Crushers. Hopefully the outcome will be better than the last time the Trojans played the venue (a 30-0 loss in 2006).

The Trojans' defense has played outstanding the past three games, but they'll need to step it up even more if they are to have a chance against the rushing attack of the Crushers. No one in the conference, maybe the district, has the one-two punch that Eric Lowry (69 carries, 423 yards, 8 TDs) and Isa Wadley (56 carries, 475 yards, 7 TDs) bring to the table. Factor in Josh Seidel's 392 yards and 3 touchdowns on 41 carries, well, you could almost call it a three-headed monster.

Add to that the fact that starting QB Jack Shrey was out with injury and the Crushers only attempted three passes the entire Westmont game, well, any pundit could say this line and bevy of backs is impressive.

Schrey's status for this game is unknown at the time of posting. For the record, he's 35-for-55 for 439 yards and 7 TDs. He's been picked off three times by opposing defenses. When going through the air, favorite targets are Lowry (15 receptions, 257 yards and 3 TDs) and Dane Domonkos (7 receptions, 150 yards and 2 TDs).

Lowry showed in last year's game that he can be effective as a double threat, both on the ground and through the air while Wadley is showing this season that he offers a great combination of speed and power to the attack.

On defense, the Crushers are led by a former Hilltopper in transfer Chaz Merriman and his 34 tackles while Seidel and Jason Reynolds each have 32. Six Crushers are co-leaders on the team with one sack while Lowry and Reynolds each have two interceptions. Merriman and Wadley have each recovered two fumbles.

Domonkos, the latest in a long family line of fine kickers (although he's the first one to show he can do more than just kick) has 23 PATs and 5 field goals on the year. Lowry handles the punting and through five games he has 5 for 187.

Lowry is prominent in both the kickoff and punt return games. Domonkos pitches in on the kickoffs (and he showed how dangerous he can be Saturday, taking one back to the 14) while Schrey has contributed on punt returns.

Some keys for a Trojan victory. On offense, continue to utilize as many players as possible like they have been. Sure, Christian has been getting his carries and he should be, but mixing it up like they have the past few weeks will be key to success. Westmont showed in the first half that this Crusher defense isn't immovable. An "X" factor here is QB John Sicilano. If he continues with his scrambling ability and can pick up key first downs like he has, that could be huge for JHS. Hopefully his bout with the flu is complete, he's hyrdrated and healthy and 100% ready to go Friday night. A question mark is Jordan Jefferson. The junior wideout was not in action against BC Saturday and his status is unknown for the contest this week.

When the Trojans are on defense, I look to two keys: coaching and field position. Coaching in the sense that the McCort staff seem to always find a way to exploit a team's weakness and, as last Saturday at Westmont proved, it's not always about adjustments. Nothing changed from the first to second half in the contest at Price Field other than the execution of the plays on both sides of the ball. If Schrey is able to go, the Crushers could go to the air more, they've shown they can beat the Trojans that way in the past for big plays. Domonkos had a really good game last year at Trojan Stadium.

To the next key and field position. The defense not only needs to stop the Crushers but they need to avoid the bend-but-don't break philosophy and keep the them out of field goal range. Domonkos seems to be every bit as good as his older brothers and he has a 44-yarder on his resume this year.

The task will no doubt be tough, but will this be the year that Johnstown finally gets back on the winning side of this series? Sure the Trojans lead the all-time series 15-8-1 but they've only beaten the Crushers once since they joined the LHAC in 2001.

If not, the Crushers will show complete city and suburb supremacy as they will have taken out Richland, Westmont and Johnstown in a same year.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC:

Bedford (0-6) at Cambria Heights (1-5)

Something's got to give in this one between two of the three conference cellar dwellars. After the Bisons' tough performance against BG, I look for them to win and leave the ranks of the winless.

Central Cambria (4-2) at Bishop Guilfoyle (4-2)

Good match-up on the turf of Mansion Park. CC is coming off a big win over Forest Hills while BG needed overtime to beat winless Bedford. I look for a big night from O'Saben and another Red Devil victory.

Penn Cambria (4-2) at Forest Hills (5-1)

Don Bailey's Rangers are back home after suffering a somewhat surprising loss at Central Cambria a week ago. Look for the Rangers to get back on the winning track as a look at their remaining schedule doesn't suggest they'll be on the losing side of the ledger again.

Somerset (1-5) at Bishop Carroll (3-3)

Brendan Julock had a 100-yard plus game despite the Huskies getting shut out. He'll get 200 in an easy win over Somerset back on home turf.

Westmont (1-5) at Richland (3-3)

This one is closer than the records might suggest. The question mark here is the Rams' defense. There is no question Richland can put points on the board but they give up a lot too. Valcheff is a tough receiver and could give an undersized Rams' secondary trouble.

 

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD):

Bellefonte (3-3) at Central Mountain (3-3)

The Quad-A Wildcats have been a tough team to figure out this year but I think they will prevail over Bellefonte.

Hollidaysburg (5-1) at Wilson (DC) (4-2)

Second DC-area opponent for the Golden Tigers on the season and although they are on the road this time and although Wilson is a better squad than Woodson, they will still be victorius and improve to 6-1.

Indian Valley (2-4) at St. Marys (4-2)

The Flying Dutch have been tough as of late and the 9-AAA squad will have little trouble defeating Indian Valley.

 

Scouting Report #8

10/16/08

The player that wears #1 on his jersey, Jeremy Priester, is the one to watch on Justin Myers' Cambria Heights Highlanders. As he goes, so does the Heights' offense. He has proven his worth as a double threat as he's carried the ball 140 times for 678 yards adn 3 scores and has caught 18 passes for 174 yards.

Also contributing in the CH running game is Bryon Stanek (17 receptions, 110 yards) and Nicholas Dubyak (27 carries, 106 yards, 1 TD).

When the Highlanders go to the air, they are led by quarterback Caleb Vescovi. Vescovi, just a sophomore (as a freshman he threw for 274 yards a year ago), is 54-for-140 with 548 yards adn 3 TDs. He has been picked off 7 times.

His favorite target has been Stanek, who has 20 catches for 272 yards and 3 TDs. Aside from Priester, Drew Wright (7 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD) has also contributed.

On defense, CH is led by Andrew Gause (49 tackles), Brandt Beck (47) and Evan Hutton (43) are the leading grapplers. Gause and Hutton have 3 and 2 sacks respectively.

Priester also plays on defense and he's contributed to that unit with 2 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions.

To the Special Teams game, first the kicking: Stanek has punted 23 times for 752 yards and has downed one inside the 20. Adam Strausser has kicked off 13 times for 402 yards while Nick Galczynksi has connected on PAT kicks thrice.

In the return game, Priester handles them on both ends, returning just one punt this year but 12 kickoff returns 211 yards. Stanek has brought back 18 kicks for 356 yards.

This is a game that the Trojans should and will win. Add to that the desire of the team to get back on the winning track after getting trounced a week ago to McCort

Cambria Heights is known for hanging tough in the first half of games but the Trojans should be able to keep this ability under wraps. One thing I am looking forward to is seeing Priester in person. I haven't seen him in person yet but the word is he's a real tough back. You would have to be to gain the amount of yards he gained on a winless team a year ago (1,163) and he's on track to be within 100 yards of that mark this year on a one-win team, thus far. He's a senior and this would be the most likely (if not certainly) the final chance I'll get to see him play.

That being said, Jeremy may get some yardage but I look for some bend but don't break defense here and the only reason I'm not going to say shutout is because backups might get a lot of playing time Friday night and when that happens, all bets are off.

Here's to beautiful fall weather for the homecoming festivities and the game and that the Trojans come away with the big win and improve to 5-3.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC:

Richland (3-4) at Bedford (1-6)

The Rams could be ripe for the upset, depending on the status of injured quarterback Gino Ramires. The Bisons got a taste of winning and would like nothing more than to get a two-game winning streak going. Richland has more athletes, even without Ramires, and will look to get back on the winning track after getting edged by Westmont a week ago. This one could be closer than the records might suggest.

Bishop Guilfoyle (4-3) at Somerset (1-6)

The Chris Brown aerial assault will invade the turf at Somerset and make it a long night for Steve Costea’s Golden Eagles.

Central Cambria (5-2) at Westmont (2-5)

Could be a pitfall game for CC as playing at Price Field has been known to take down many an opponent. CC should be able to overcome this obstacle and win in a game that will pit two of the areas better backs in action against each other in CC’s Andrew O’Saben and Westy’s T.J. Keklak.

Forest Hills (6-1) at Bishop Carroll (4-3)

In the wacky LHAC this could be an upset waiting to happen. Forest Hills is coming off a hard fought victory against Penn Cambria and could be primed for a letdown.

Penn Cambria (4-3) at Bishop McCort (7-0)

This week against PC and next week with CC could be the Crushers only chances at ruining an undefeated season. I’m not calling for either. Especially the way they out-physicalled and out-athleticked (to make up two words) Johnstown a week ago.

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Penns Valley (1-6) at Bellefonte (3-4)

The Red Raiders have shown they are one-dimensional as of late regarding their excelling at the passing game. I look for them to use Penns Valley as an opportunity to establish the run…and win big.

Cedar Cliff (4-3) at Hollidaysburg (6-1)

The Golden Tigers dominance in 6-AAA continues as they may very well be on their way to a one-loss campaign. Look for a big win here.

Central Mountain (4-3) at Indian Valley (2-5)

IV’s woes continue as they will lose to the bigger, Quad-A Wildcats.

 

Scouting Report #9

10/23/08

One thing is certain when analyzing the Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders on paper, they are a talented football team on the offensive side of the ball.  Their leader, quarterback Chris Brown can do by land or by air.  The senior signal caller is 98-for-172 for 1444 yards.  He's thrown 9 touchdowns versus 6 interceptions.  He's also rushed the ball 64 times for 171 yards and ran for 6 scores. 

When Brown goes to the air, his favorite target Andrew Passonetti (28 receptions, 604 yards, 7 touchdowns).  Also in the receving corps are A.J. Kitt (14 rec, 200 yards, 1 touchdown) and Chris Damiano (10 rec, 184 yards, 2 touchdowns).

The rushing game is led by Eugene Ehredt, who has 728 yards on 102 carries and has scored 8 times.  Kitt has 36 carries for 224 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Defensively, the Marauders are led by LHAC-tackles leader Kyle Kessner, who has 112 total tackles.  Sully McConnell has 62.  Alex Shaffer, Nick Johnstown and Richie Zelnosky all have 2 sacks.  Brown's 5 interceptions from his defensive back post are good enough to lead the LHAC. 

To Special Teams, first, the return game.  Kitt (10 returns, 211 yards) and Damiano (6 for 119) share the kickoff returns while Damiano (15 returns, 60 yards) handles the punt returns. 

As far as the kicking game, Ehredt handles the kickoffs and has done so 38 kickoffs for 1387 yards and 1 touchback while Amanda James is the placekicker.  She has connected on 23 PATs and 2 field goals on the season.  Brown handles the punting duties and has done so 18 times for 578 yards.  As always, when the quarterback doubles as the punter, you always have to be mindful of the fake (especially in light of JHS' last two opponents running fakes successfully).

The main concern for the Trojans when it comes to getting the "W" over BG will be defending against the pass.  On tape, Brown really looked impressive in their game with McCort.  Last week, despite the big win, Cambria Heights was able to throw the ball with a little bit of success.  On offense, the Trojans should be able to run the plays they've run to this point against BG. 

It should be a close game.  BG's five wins have come against three teams (Cambria Heights, Bedford and Somerset) that JHS has also beaten and their three losses have come against two teams that JHS has also lost to (McCort and Forest Hills). 

That being said, with Senior Night and the last time this group of seniors playing on the turf at Trojan Stadium (in the regular season), combined with a home playoff game on the line in contests both this week and next, I see the Trojans stepping up to the challenge.

Elsewhere in the LHAC:

Westmont (2-6) at Bedford (1-7)

Bedford is more like a one-win team while Westmont has more talent than a two-win team.  I won't say blowout because the Hilltoppers have to make the long trip to Bedford, but Westy will win this one easily.

Bishop Carroll (4-4) at Cambria Heights (1-7)

The Huskies are on the bubble of the potential 16-team mammoth 6-A field.  That being said, CH could make a run at an upset, but the status of Jeremy Priester is unknown.  Take BC in a close one. 

Bishop McCort (8-0) at Central Cambria (6-2)

With both teams solidly in their respective class' playoff scene, this one is for the LHAC overall championship.  The Crushers are undefeated while the Red Devils were 4-1 in section play, but they beat fellow Section 1 4-1 squad Forest Hills in head-to-head competition.  The Crushers just have too much talent and will finish their regular season at 9-0 (remember, Class A playoffs start in Week 10). 

Richland (4-4) at Forest Hills (7-1)

The latest edition of the "Bailey Bowl" pits father (Don, Forest Hills) against son (Brandon, Richland).  While I think the explosive nature of the Rams' "O" can give this game a "basketball on grass" feel, their defense just doesn't have the horses to match-up with a back like Mehall.  Rangers win.

Somerset (1-7) at Penn Cambria (4-4)

Zak Newton has had his way with just about every defense he's faced, regardless if the Panthers have won or lost the contest.  Week Nine will be no different, I expect at least 250 yards for the standout back against the woeful Golden Eagles.

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Indian Valley (2-6) at Bellefonte (4-4)

The Altoona Mirror is reporting that IV may not go through the motions of the playoffs if they cannot beat Bellefonte.  I can't say I blame them, Hollidaysburg gains nothing beating up on a two or three-win team in the first round of the playoffs.  The Red Raiders roll to victory.

Williamsport (2-6) at Hollidaysburg (7-1)

Things just keep getting better for the Golden Tigers as far as beating up on hapless Quad-A teams.  Their first place lead just gets bigger.


And finally today, I'd like to take a moment and post some stats.  What I thought I would do is post the top three players in each category and then the best JHS player (if they aren't in the top 3):

Passing:
1.  Gino Ramires, Richland, 146-for-247, 2,173 yards, 20 TDs
2.  Chris Brown, Bishop Guilfoyle, 98-for-172, 1,444 yards, 9 TDs
3.  Zack Glessner, Forest Hills, 66-for-106, 1,203 yards, 7 TDs
4.  John Siciliano, Johnstown, 51-of-106, 777 yards, 6 TDs

Rushing:
1.  Zak Newton, Penn Cambria, 194 carries, 1,409 yards, 12 TDs
2.  T.J. Keklak, Westmont, 186 carries, 1,027 yards, 9 TDs
3.  Scott Mehall, Forest Hills, 111 carries, 1,018 yards, 15 TDs
6.  Quadir Christian, Johnstown, 126 carries, 982 yards, 10 TDs

Receiving:
1.  Tim Ripple, Richland, 49 receptions, 897 yards, 10 TDs
2.  Andrew Passonetti, Bishop Guilfoyle, 28 receptions, 604 yards, 7 TDs
3.  Tyler Rosenberger, Forest Hills, 29 receptions, 564 yards, 4 TDs
13.  Richard Agurs, Johnstown, 13 receptions, 249 yards, 1 TD

Scoring:
1.  Eric Lowry, Bishop McCort, 108
2.  Zak Newton, Penn Cambria, 100
3.  Scott Mehall, Forest Hills, 96
5.  Quadir Christian, Johnstown, 78

Tackles:
1.  Kyle Kessler, Bishop Guilfoyle, 112
2.  Josh Chumrik, Bishop Carroll, 105
3.  Josh Krupa, Bedford, 99
10.  Alkwon Williams, Johnstown, 75

Sacks:
1.  Derek Semetosky, Bishop Carroll, 11
2.  Matt Teeter, Penn Cambria, 7
3.  John Kmetz, Forest Hills, 7
12.  David Istanich, Johnstown, 3.5

Interceptions:
1.  Chris Brown, Bishop Guilfoyle, 5
2.  Ryan Sisco, Johnstown 4
tied with four other players that also have 4 interceptions:
Marshal Lipnic, Central Cambria
Nate Eckenrode, Penn Cambria
Eric Lowry, Bishop McCort
Tim Ripple, Richland

 

Scouting Report #10

10/30/08

Ernie Fetzer's Penn Cambria Panthers squad has some really talented playmakers, the leader of which is LHAC rushing leader Zak Newton. The junior is extremely versatile as he's also taken more than a few snaps at the quarterback position. Newton has carried the ball 215 times for 1562 yards and 15 touchdowns. He's 12-for-31 passing for 209 yards and 4 touchdowns and has been picked off 3 times.

The regular starting quarterback is Josh Gallagher. Gallagher is 24-for-54 for 456 yards and 6 touchdowns. Like Newton, he too has been intercepted thrice.

No matter who is throwing the ball, the main target in the passing game is Matt Glenn. His 421 yards and 6 touchdowns from 21 receptions is good enough to lead the Panthers. Nate Eckenrode has contributed with 12 catches for 209 yards and 3 touchdowns.

When it comes to the defensive side of the ball, Adam Zaliznock leads the way with 101 tackles. Newton and Matt Teeter both have 65 while Rick Berheimer has 60 stops.

Teeter's 8 sacks lead the team and are good enough for second in the conference. Taylor Molnaird, Mark Sanford and Berheimer have each chipped in with 3 sacks.

Eckenrode (5 interceptions) and Glenn (3 interceptions) are lead ball-hawks.

In the return game Glenn has a hand in both as he's returned 8 punts for 74 yards and 7 kickoffs for 172 yards. Eckenrode has 10 kickoff returns for 210 yards.

Glenn and Newton have split the punting duties this year. Glenn has booted the ball 6 times for 180 yards and has dropped two inside the 20 while Newton has 7 punts for 202 yards and has placed one inside the 20.

Molnaird handles kicking off and has done so 12 times in 2008 for 552 yards and has one touchback under his belt. There are no extra point or field goal stats as it appears, as he has done in the past, Coach Fetzer is opting to go for two most (if not all) times this year.

From watching PC play Forest Hills on tape earlier this week, I don't see anything in their defensive scheme that doesn't lead me to believe the Trojans should be able to run their offense against the Panthers with success. The Panthers have some big guys but I think Johnstown wins the size battle with their offensive line versus the PC front four. That is, of course if you ignore PC's DTs, both 300+ pounders (Sanford and Vargo). Quite honestly, most of JHS' running game is based on speed, not power. I would not expect to many runs to go through those gaps and the DTs won't be a factor in pitches and outside runs.

On defense, stopping Newton could prove to be a tough task, containing him will be key. The kid is no doubt a talented back. Rather than worrying about keeping him below a set number of yards, the team should concentrate on a bend-don't-break style of play and concede that Newton will get some yardage from time to time. Keeping the Panthers off the scoreboard is more important obviously.

Special teams could actually end up playing a very large role in this game, both in the return and kicking game. The Trojans coverage units allowed a touchdown and two other long returns against BG a week ago. PC can threaten in a similar manner and nothing can swing momentum away from a team like a big return. Even if it's not for a touchdown, it can be a field position win.

As far as the kicking game, Coach Fetzer's lack of a PAT kicking game can both help or hurt the Trojans. Obviously, if the Trojan defense stops them on two-point plays, they gain the advantage. However, if they are not successful in stopping these plays, the Trojans' hand is forced to match those two-point conversions.

 

Elsewhere in the LHAC:

REGULAR SEASON:

Bedford (1-8) at Chestnut Ridge (5-4)

Huge rivalry game so I suppose anything could happen, however, I don't see the Bisons getting their second win of the season over the Lions on this night.

Cambria Heights (1-8) at Richland (4-5)

Gino and company rack up big numbers, blowout the Highlanders and get ready for a likely playoff berth.

Central Cambria (6-3) at Somerset (1-8)

It will be the same story it has been all year for Somerset, Niemiec and Dykstra will make big plays, but the Golden Eagle defense won't be able to contain the opponents' offense. Look for another big night from Andrew O'Saben as the Red Devils bounce back from that stinging loss to McCort a week ago.

Forest Hills (8-1) at Westmont (3-6)

The Hilltoppers' playoff hopes are hanging on by a thread and they couldn't have picked a worse opponent than Forest Hills. The Rangers' offense is hitting on all cylinders as there probably isn't a more balanced attack in the LHAC as they can do it by land (Scott Mehall) and by air (Zack Glessner). Westy could still get in the playoffs with a loss, but they'd need some help from the looks of the standings table.

PLAYOFFS:

Bishop McCort (9-0) enjoys a first round bye as the overall top seed in the 6-A bracket. The Crushers will play the winner of the 8-9 game between Northern Cambria and Laurel Valley.

Bishop Carroll (5-4) is seeded 12th and is at #5 Moshannon Valley (8-1)

Bishop Guilfoyle (5-4) is seeded 13th and is at #4 Bellwood-Antis (8-1)

 

District 6-AAA (6-AAA teams in BOLD)

Bellefonte (4-5) at Bald Eagle Area (3-6)

The Red Raiders will win a close one over the Class AA Eagles.

Hollidaysburg (8-1) at DuBois (5-4)

The Golden Tigers will finish their fine regular season with a win, going on a nine-game winning streak following their week one loss to State College.

Lewistown (0-9) at Indian Valley (3-6)

Annual rivalry game at the Mitch as these two foes fight for the Old Iron Kettle. Pride is on the line for the Panthers while a possible move up to the third seed in the playoffs could be at stake for IV.

 

 

LHAC Stat leaders

Passing:

1. Gino Ramires, Richland, 2,235 yards

2. Chris Brown, Bishop Guilfoyle, 1,444 yards

3. Zack Glessner, Forest Hills, 1,377 yards

5. John Siciliano, Johnstown, 817 yards

Rushing:

1. Zak Newton, Penn Cambria, 1,562 yards

2. T.J. Keklak, Westmont, 1,210 yards

3. Brendan Julock, Bishop Carroll, 1,170 yards

4. Scott Mehall, Forest Hills, 1,167 yards

4. Quadir Christian, Johnstown, 1,167 yards

Receiving:

1. Tim Ripple, Richland, 898 yards

2. Andrew Passonetti, Bishop Guilfoyle, 652 yards

3. Tyler Rosenberger, Forest Hills, 606 yards

13. Jordan Jefferson, Johnstown, 263 yards

Scoring:

1. Zak Newton, Penn Cambria, 122

2. Scott Mehall, Forest Hills, 114

3. Eric Lowry, Bishop McCort, 108

4. Quadir Christian, Johnstown, 86

Tackles:

1. Kyle Kessler, Bishop Guilfoyle, 124

2. Josh Chumrik, Bishop Carroll, 116

3. Jordan Curcija, Richland, 105

9. Alkwon Williams, Johnstown, 84

Sacks:

1. Derek Semetosky, Bishop Carroll, 11

2. Matt Teeter, Penn Cambria, 8

3, John Kmetz, Forest Hills, 7

12. David Istanich, Johnstown, 3.5

Interceptions:

1. Nate Eckenrode, Penn Cambria, 5

1. Chris Brown, Bishop Guilfoyle, 5

3. Ryan Sisco, Johnstown, 4

3. Marshal Lipnic, Central Cambria, 4

3. Eric Lowry, Bishop McCort, 4

3. Tim Ripple, Richland, 4

 

Scouting Report #11

11/6/08

The Johnstown Trojans will open up the postseason with a home contest against the Indian Valley Warriors Friday night at Trojan Stadium. IV enters the game with a 4-6 record. The combined record of the their ten opponents is 56-44 with the teams they beat sporting a 12-28 record while the teams they lost to are 44-16. The best team they beat had a record of 5-5.

Although there are no common opponents, the Trojans’ ten previous opponents have a combined record of 44-54. The teams JHS beat are 23-46 while the teams they lost to are 21-8. The best team they beat had a record of 5-5 (three times).

This is probably where the similarities end. Although the teams might look even on paper when you break down the above data, I feel Johnstown is the far better team here and should win this contest easily.

Please note these stats might not be up-to-date according to some of the math I've done, but as of 10:00AM on 11/5/08, they're the best we've got.

William Long leads the Warriors’ running game with 345 yards and 3 touchdowns on 53 carries. Also, in the IV balanced attack, Nickolas Myers (46 carries, 268 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Cody Battista (54 carries, 235 yards and 1 touchdown) have also contributed as has quarterback Jacob Stroehecker who has scored three touchdowns on the ground.

Stroehecker is 33-of-68 for 464 yards and 6 touchdowns. He’s been picked off six times as well. Long has also played some quarterback this year and is a very efficient 25-of-30 for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s been picked off five times.

Battista is the leading receiver with 14 catches for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns. Morgan Barger has 4 receptions for 141 yards and Mitch Fultz has 9 catches for 135 yards and 2 scores. Myers has caught 2 touchdown passes.

IV has no defensive stats listed on MaxPreps so we’ll move on to the Special Teams game. There wasn’t much punt return data, but Myers has 20 kickoff returns for 459 yards.

In the kicking game, Barger handles the punting (20 for 757, dropping 6 inside the 20) while Zachery Peachey is the primarily kicker with 17 kickoffs for 734 yards. He’s also kicked 5 PATs (Barger has one PAT on the season).

I’m not going to dive into too much analysis here, and I don’t want to sound like I’m selling IV short as an opponent, but I just feel the combination of the travel time involved for the Warriors on a Friday paired with the athletic nature of this Trojans’ team on both offense and defense will be far too much for a four-win club to overcome. I expect an easy win and the Trojans to move on to the play for the district title.

In other LHAC and 6-AAA related action (teams in BOLD)

Laurel Valley (7-3) at Bishop McCort (9-0)

Ken Salem’s Crushers are back in action after getting a week off in the form of a first round bye in the 6-A playoffs. Coach Page will bring his Rams from the Heritage Conference into Point Stadium and although you can always expect his teams to be well prepared, the Crushers will be just too much and cruise in the second half to an easy win.

Richland (5-5) at Forest Hills (9-1)

Rematch of the Bailey Bowl from a few weeks ago and although it’s always tough to be a team the second time around, I see the same result this time.

Central Cambria (7-3) at Huntingdon (7-3)

Best, most even match-up of the entire week. I’m calling push here as it’s too close to call. Slight advantage to the Bearcats in the home contest but O’Saben in an equalizer. This should be a great game.

Hollidaysburg has a first round bye.

Scouting Report #12

11/13/08

On Friday night, the Johnstown Trojans will play for the District 6-AAA championship for the first time since 2004 and the third time since 2003. It is also a rematch of the last postseason game the Trojans played in: a 13-12 loss to Hollidaysburg.

That’s all ancient history as these are two very different teams from that game at Trojan Stadium two season ago and despite the fact that this years’ seniors were sophomores at the time, the outcome of that game has very little to do with what happens at Mansion Park in 2008.

From the way the Golden Tigers started the season, one might have thought their season was headed for disaster as they fell 37-0 to State College in week one. All Coach John Barton’s team has done since then is reel off nine straight victories en route to a 9-1 record that gave them first place in the points standings by a comfortable margin and let them enjoy a first round bye.

On the way to this impressive mark, they defeated two Washington D.C. teams, both the other 6-AAA squads in Bellefonte and Johnstown and basically ran roughshod over a scheduled that included five Class AAAA opponents in South Western, Central Mountain, Cedar Cliff, Williamsport and DuBois. This was why they were able to finish the regular season with a 560-point lead over second-place Johnstown.

This is, in part why the Golden Tigers are ranked #8 in the state by PA Football News and have been highly touted as the odds-on favorite by many pundits to win the district since midseason.

The team is just as impressive on the stat sheet as one things stands out: balance. Not just between the run and the pass but between the contributors in those aspects of the game. Quarterback Brandyn Ott is 82-for-113 with 1,044 yards and 8 touchdowns. He’s only been picked off once. Future Temple Owl Justin Gildea is just one of a plethora of targets for Ott. He has caught 28 passes for 435 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season. Also pitching in in the passing game are Scott Hammond (21 receptions, 222 yards), Ben Pramuk (14 receptions, 162 yards) and Jason Boland (19 receptions, 284 yards, 1 touchdown). It’s clear that when Hollidaysburg goes to the air, Ott has a more than capable receiving corps ready to step up and make big plays.

A glance at the running stats is even scarier, if that’s possible. The workhorse is Luke Rhodes (110 carries, 644 yards and 10 touchdowns) but Ott is a legit double threat with his legs as he’s carried 95 times for 569 yards and 10 touchdowns. Gildea has also played a major part in the running game, carrying 61 times for 411 yards and 8 scores. Hammond is also a double threat as he’s toted the rock 76 times for 363 yards and 6 touchdowns. That’s 34 rushing touchdowns between these four players.

Now, to the defensive side of the ball and unit that held four straight teams to just seven points. Joseph Hargis leads the team with 74 tackles while Gildea has 63. Jacob Bickley and Ott each have 50 stops. Hargis also leads the team with 5 sacks while Bickley and Connor Brinkhoff each have 2. Gildea is the team’s lead ball hawk with five interceptions.

In the return game portion of the Special Teams, Hammond leads in both punt and kickoff returns. He’s returned 8 punts for 43 yards and 11 kickoffs for 200 yards. To the kicking game, Ott has handled most of the punting duties and has done so 19 times for 685 yards and has dropped 6 inside the 20. Kickoffs are handled by Boland and he done so 60 times for 2,906 yards and has 7 touchbacks. Boland has also converted 25 extra points.

It’s obvious to say that this is the most impressive team the Trojans have faced to date. To play that angle down would be an understatement. However, it is also safe to say that there is a lot of talent on Johnstown’s side of the ball and if Hollidaysburg comes into this game overconfident they could be in for a fight. Not having seen the team in action at all this season, I’ll defer to Coach Marabito as to specific keys to win on both sides of the ball. Look for his comments in this week’s Coach’s Corner real soon!

The margin for error for JHS in this game is very slim. Penalties on both sides of the ball, big plays given up on defense, missed opportunities on offense all have to be kept to a minimum. You won’t be able to get away with stuff like that against a team as good as Hollidaysburg.

 

Aside from the Trojans, three other teams from the LHAC are still alive in postseason play:

Bellwood-Antis (10-1) at Bishop McCort (10-0); 6-A semifinal

MONSTER match-up at the Point Stadium. I give the slightest of edges to the Crushers as they are my favorites to win 6-A and they have the home game. The Blue Devils, however, pose the biggest threat to Coach Ken Salem’s club’s chances. I’ll take the Crushers in a classic.

Central Cambria (8-3) at Tyrone (10-1); 6-AA semifinal

This will probably mark the end of the road for the upstart Red Devils but if that’s the case they have nothing to be ashamed off. Year in, year out, Coach John Franco’s Tyrone Golden Eagles are one of the best programs in the district in ANY classification.

Central (9-2) at Forest Hills (10-1); 6-AA semifinal

Interesting match-up between these two section mates in the LHAC. These two squads used to meet every year until the Scarlet Dragons left the conference. I think Central’s remarkable resurgent season comes to an end as the skill of this Forest Hills team will be too much for them to overcome. Look for another big game for Scott Mehall, Tyler Rosenberger and Zack Glessner in front of the home fans.

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