Sunday, December 28, 2014

D6SN Boys Basketball Rankings: Week Five


1. Hollidaysburg 5-3

The Golden Tigers dropped a close one to Shikellamy last week, but I still feel they are a notch above everyone else right now. They host AA Richland on Friday, and will take on a good Ambridge team from the WPIAL on the road Saturday night. 

2. Johnstown 8-2

After a humbling loss to Hollidaysburg last week, Johnstown responded with three big wins this week.  The Trojans took down cross-town rivals, Bishop McCort on Monday and came back and won the Ligonier tournament this past weekend, which included a win over AAAA Shaler.  Johnstown is off this week and will take on Somerset next Monday. 

3. Somerset 3-1

Somerset overcame a sluggish start against Richland on the road and turned it into a 60-50 win over the Rams in their lone game last week. They will now travel to Red Lion High School of District 3 for a holiday tournament on Monday and Tuesday. The Golden Eagles will take on Shanksville at home on Saturday as a part of their own tournament that was supposed to take place to start the season, but was delayed due to Somerset's deep run into the football playoffs. 


1. Blairsville 8-2 

The Bobcats went into Ebensburg and took over the town by conquering Bishop Carroll and Central Cmabria in the County Seat Tournament.  The win over Bishop Carroll was most impressive, as the Huskies are the odds on favorite to win class A.  Blairsville is sitting with an 8-2 record, and they will finish the year with 12 conference games, nearly all of which they will be heavily favored to win. 

2. Bellwood-Antis 5-1

The Blue Devils scored an impressive win over West Branch last week by a score of 83-74. They will now turn their attention to the Tyrone tournament, which also features Chestnut Ridge and Penn Cambria and should make for a competitive set of games. 

3. Tyrone 5-1

Tyrone did not have a game this past week and remain 5-1 and ranked third.  They do hold a win over Bellwood this year, and could climb the rankings by defending their home turf in the tournament Monday and Tuesday. 

4. Penns Valley 6-1

The Rams defeated St. Joe's Academy 53-42 last week to improve to 6-1.  They host Bellefonte on Monday. 

5. West Branch 5-1

The Warriors drop after losing to Bellwood-Antis, but they deserve to remain in the rankings. They play Bedford in a tournament this weekend. 


1. Berlin-Brothersvalley 5-0

Berlin leaps to first with a convincing win over Portage, and the Mountaineers are now the lone undefeated team in D5 AA.  They host Southern High School this weekend of Maryland. 

2. Chestnut Ridge  5-1

The Lions dropped one to a good McConnellsburg team and now sit with a 5-1 record. They head to Tyrone tomorrow to play in their tournament. They will take on Bellwood-Antis first. 

3. Tussey Mountain 3-5

The Titans lost to Richland and beat Conemaugh Valley in the Richland tournament.  The Titans have had an up and down year to this point, but could start to gain some momentum in the coming weeks. 

D6 A

1. Bishop Carroll 9-1

Bishop Carroll lost their first regular season game since February 9, 2013.  It was an impressive run, but it had to come to an end at some point, and Blairsville is a very good team. Bishop Carroll is off until next Monday when they host Central Cambria and look to start a new streak. 

2. Bishop Guilfoyle 2-1

The Marauders lost to Westmont last week in a bit of a surprise. Still, I think this team is far from a finished product.  BG is off until January 5, and the next week should get guys some valuable practice time they missed during the football playoff run. 

3. Homer-Center 7-1

Homer-Center had an impressive showing in the Richland tournament, by winning the championship over the hosts by 17 points. They will wait until the New Year to resume their schedule, but the Wildcats could be a real threat to Blairsville to win the Heritage. 

4. Moshannon Valley 5-2

The Knights came up with a solid 2-1 week, with their lone loss coming to AA Cambria Heights. They will take on Bellefonte next Monday. 

5. Portage 6-1

Portage lost to Berlin by 20, but they still are off to a great start. We will soon find out if they can keep it up when they open the New Year with a big game against Conemaugh Township. 

D5 A

1. Shanksville-Stonycreek  5-0

Shanksville continued their hot start with a convincing win over Ferndale. They travel to AAA Somerset Saturday.  

2. Southern Fulton 8-1

The Indians have been very good in the early going. They went into Everett last week and beat them by 17, and then traveled out of state and picked up two close wins after Christmas. They resume their schedule when they travel to Chestnut Ridge on January 8. 

3. McConnellsburg 5-0

McConnellsburg enters the rankings after their perfect 5-0 start. They scored an impressive win over Chestnut Ridge.  They take on Fannett-Metal not until next Friday. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

D6SN Boys Basketball Rankings: Week Four


1. Hollidaysburg 5-2

The Golden Tigers defended their home turf by winning their holiday tournament in convincing fashion. Hollidaysburg dismantled Johnstown in the championship game, and shows how far ahead of the pack they are right now in AAA.  They head to Shikellamy on Saturday night for a road game against the 2-4 Braves.  

2. Somerset 2-1

Somerset played Bishop Carroll very tough this week, and they actually move up a spot with an 0-1 record.  They play Richland before Christmas, and head to Red Lion High School for a post holiday tournament, and that should be a big challenge for the Golden Eagles. 

3. Johnstown 5-2

Johnstown's five game winning streak was snapped with a blowout loss to Hollidaysburg.  The Trojans did come up with wins over Central Cambria and single-A Avonworth prior to the Hollidaysburg loss.  They have a big game against cross-town rival Bishop McCort Monday night right up Osborne Street. They also have a game with AAAA Shaler Friday in Ligonier's holiday tournament.  

District Six AA

1. Blairsville 6-2

The Bobcats rolled to three easy Heritage Conference wins and raise their record to 6-2.  They head to Ebenburg this week for the County Seat Tournament that starts Friday night.

2. West Branch 5-0

Hard to argue about West branch right now, they are 5-0 and taking care of business. They have a big game with Bellwood tomorrow night.

3. Tyrone 5-1 

The Golden Eagles have been playing very well to start the year, but they are coming off a rough loss to Clearfield.   Tyrone will host a Christmat tournament this weekend with Bellwood, Penn Cambria, and Chestnut Ridge. It should be a competitive set of games.

4. Bellwood-Antis 4-1

After an opening loss to Tyrone, Bellwood has reeled off four straight wins to get themselves back into the rankings.  They head to the Tyrone tournament this weekend.

5. Penns Valley 5-1

The Rams suffered a 20 point loss to Bellwood-Antis this week, and drop a little in the rankings.  Still, Penns Valley is a very good team, and certainly in the hunt in AA. They take on St. Joseph's Academy this week, and should move to 6-1.

District Five AA

1. Chestnut Ridge 5-0

The Lions have been very good to start the year, and they seem legit. They play McConnellsburg on Monday before the Tyrone tournament this weekend.  We will find out a lot about Ridge in that tournament. 

2. Berlin-Brothersvalley 4-0

Despite some significant losses from last season, berlin has started the season hot. They have a big road test against Berlin on Monday.

3. Everett 2-2

The Everett Warriors rebounded nicely after an 0-2 start, and put together two nice wins. They have a big test with Southern Fulton tomorrow night.

District Six A

1. Bishop Carroll 7-0 

The Huskies survived a close call with Somerset early in the week, then finished it up with easy wins over Westmont and North Star. BC takes on Penn Cambria in a sectional game this week. 

2. Bishop Guilfoyle 1-0

The Marauders finally started their season, and hung on to beat Bedford in their opener.  BG will take on Cambria Heights and Westmont this week before Christmas. 

3. Portage 6-0

The Mustangs have been very impressive in the early going, and may be a threat to win the always-competitive WestPac. The host Berlin on Monday night.  

4. Homer Center 4-1

 Homer-Center scored two conference wins last week over Ligonier and Northern Cambria, and they currently sit 3-0 in conference play.  They travel to Marion Center tomorrow night. 

5. Moshannon Valley 3-1

The Knights scored a big win over Juniata Valley by one on the road, and handled Claysburg-Kimmel last week. They have a road game with Glendale on Monday. 

District 5 A

1. Shanksville 3-0

The Vikings are off to a nice start and have a big road game at Ferndale this week before Christmas. 

2. Southern Fulton 5-1

The only loss Southern Fulton has is a 6 point loss to a good AA Blairsville team on a neutral court.  This Southern Fulton team is for real. They take on Everett before heading out of state for the Tri State shootout against Berkley Springs of West Virginia. 

3. Shade 3-2

Shade is off to a 3-2 start, and are on break until the Windber Rotary tournament next Monday. 

D6SN 2014 All-Area Team

Andrew Berger 6'3" 255 Senior OT/DT Bishop Guilfoyle
Highlights 19.5 Sacks/25 QB hurries/42 Solo Tackles/3 fumble recoveries

Andrew Berger was the catalyst for both lines for the Bishop Guilfoyle attack this season. The senior lineman helped pave the way for  brilliant seasons by the Maruaders' ball carriers - Sam McCloskey and Brandon Chadbourn.  Berger also doubled up as one of the most dominant and disruptive defensive linemen in Pennsylvania. He posted some mind-boggling numbers highlighted by an impressive 19.5 sacks. The senior defensive tackle came up with a solid seven tackle performance in BG's state championship victory over Clairton.  Berger is being recruited by several FCS level teams at this point in time. 

Brandon Chadbourn 6'0" 192 Senior QB/S Bishop Guilfoyle
Highlights 1,614 Passing yards. 16 Touchdowns. 1,123 Rushing yards. 13 Touchdowns. 

Brandon Chadbourn was one of the most dynamic offensive players in the state this season, and led his team to a state championship. The senior play caller achieved the rare feat of eclipsing 1,000 yards in both passing and rushing. Chadbourn helped guide his team over mighty Clairton with a touchdown run just before the half to take the lead in the state championship game. Chadbourn was an All-State safety last season, and continued to be a strong player on that side of the ball in 2014.  Brandon will be advancing his career at Villanova University next season. He will be moved to wide receiver for the Wildcats, which is a consistent program at the Division One FCS level. 

Braden Fochtman 5'8" 170 Junior RB/CB Berlin
Highlights 2,064 Rushing Yards. 30 Touchdowns. 18 Solo Tackles. 4 interceptions

Berlin's Braden Fochtman just turned in his second consecutive 2,000 yard rushing season, and he is only a junior. With 4,621 career yards heading into his senior season, some records could definitely be dropping.  The sensational back for the Mountaineers led his team to a district five championship this year, the school's second in three seasons.  Following that title, in a showdown with heavily favored Clairton, Fochtman torched the vaunted Bears' defense for 242 rushing yards, his highest total of the season.  Fochtman is a dynamic football player, and one of the state's most explosive open field runners.  He had a memorable junior season, and has the chance for a special run in 2015. 

Kareem Gibson 5'10" 170 Senior CB/WR Greater Johnstown
Highlights 27 catches 353 yards 3 Touchdowns. 23 tackles. 1 interception. 2 return touchdowns

Kareem Gibson was one of most explosive players in the area, and it helped land him a scholarship to play for the University of Virginia in the ACC. Gibson is electric with the ball in his hands, and he came up with some big returns and offensive plays this season.  The star for the Trojans played a big role in the return game and on offense, but his future is at corner at the next level, and he had a good year there also.  Gibson has the speed and athleticism to be a very good player in college, and he showed that many times on the field this season.  

Jake Heiple 5'11" 175 RB Junior RB/CB Somerset
Highlights. 1,583 rushing yards. 26 Touchdowns. 56 total tackles. 3 interceptions. 3 return TD's

Jake Heiple helped lead Somerset to some uncharted waters this season, which included a district title, two state playoff wins, and an appearance in the AAA state semifinal.  The Golden Eagles relied heavily on Heiple on both sides of the ball and even special teams. He was their workhorse player, and he was very dependable.  Heiple had numerous big runs on offense and played great defense in the secondary while scoring two touchdowns off interceptions. Heiple was also a dynamic return man, and took three the distance this year.  He is a rare talent that can impact the game on every play. He will be back to help Somerset chase a repeat district championship. 

Aleic Hunter 5'7" 150 Senior RB Tyrone
Highlights.   1,932 rushing yards. 26 Touchdowns. 17 catches. 243 yards. 1 touchdown

Aleic Hunter put in his time through the years, and when he earned the starting running back job this season for Tyrone - he ran with it.  The 5'7" senior put the Golden Eagles on his back at times, and the moment never seemed too big for him. Hunter averaged 138 yards per game on the ground, and helped lead the Golden Eagles to their record setting 9th District Six AA championship in school history. Perhaps the most memorable game this season for Hunter was a dominating 304 yard 5 touchdown game against Mt. Union in the district six championship game at Mansion Park.  

Caleb Kephart 5'8" 175 Senior RB/LB Portage
Highlights.  2,501 Rushing Yards. 34 Touchdowns. 12 catches 275 yards 2 TD's 75 Tackles. 

Caleb Kephart wrapped up a brilliant career with his best season yet in 2014. The senior back rushed for over 2,500 yards and had an astounding 6 games with at least 200 yards or more.  Kephart paced a Portage offense that went the whole way to the district final, and even gave heavily favored Bishop Guilfoyle one of their closest games of the year.  Kephart shined bright on the big stage with 174 yards, including a 68 yard touchdown against the Marauders stout defense. Kephart also put together another solid campaign at linebacker, and was third on the team in tackles. Kephart eclipsed the 5,000 yard mark in his career this season, and will go down as the best Mustangs of all-time. 

BJ Loner 5'11" 150 Senior RB/DB Mt. Union
Highlights. 1,359 rushing yards. 25 touchdowns.28 receptions. 620 yards. 11 touchdowns. 8 Ints.

BJ Loner may have been the most exciting player in the entire area this season, and Mt. Union rode his play-making ability the whole way to the district six AA final before bowing out to Tyrone.  Loner was a big time player in all facets, and came up with huge highlight reel plays all season long. Loner came up with over 2,400 all purposes yards and 38 touchdowns.  He led the Trojans in rushing and receiving, and also was a big time defensive player as he came up with 8 interceptions. Mt. Union had with of their most successful seasons in a long time, and Loner played quite a big role in that.  

Sam McCloskey 5'11" 185 Senior RB/S Bishop Guilfoyle
Highlights. 2,168 rushing yards. 41 Touchdowns. 18 catches. 407 yards. 5 Touchdowns. 

Sam McCloskey put together one of the best seasons of any player in the state this season, and he could garner a few awards for his year-long performance. The senior back led his team to the school's first state championship in their history. McCloskey was a dynamic runner all year long, and really paced a potent offensive attack. McCloskey had some memorable games down the stretch like 235 yards and 4 touchdowns in the district six championship, 301 yards in the state quarterfinal, and two big touchdowns against Clairton in the state championship. He is on his way to play for Lehigh next season in the FCS, as a safety.  McCloskey's impressive offensive numbers sometimes overshadowed that he was a big part of the Marauders' defense. 

Austin Montgomery 6'1" 205 Junior QB Bedford
Highlights. 1,747 Passing Yards. 16 Touchdowns. 491 Rushing Yards. 11 Touchdowns. 

Austin Montgomery led Bedford to an impressive 9-2 season in 2014.  In a year that featured a lot of talk about Bishop Guilfoyle and Somerset in the LHAC, Montgomery did his part to keep Bedford near that conversation.  The junior quarterback threw for 1,747 yards and 16 touchdowns, and remained a threat on the ground with 11 rushing scores. Sometimes overlooked, Montgomery served as the team's place kicker and converted 43 extra points, while handling kickoffs and punting as well.  In his signature game, Montgomery accounted for seven touchdowns (3 passing/4 rushing) in a 50-36 shootout win over Johnstown on the road.  He will return to lead a Bedford team that will return 20 starters. With 17 wins in the past two years, many feel Bedford can take that next step in 2015, and Montgomery is a big reason why. 

Bryce Mostoller 6'3" 235 Senior TE/DE Somerset 
Highlights. 36 Catches. 584 Yards. 6 Tocudhowns. 45 solo tackles.13 Sacks. 3 Forced Fumbles.

Bryce Mostoller was one of the most dominant defensive players in the area.  He helped lead the Golden Eagles the whole way to the AAA state semifinal behind stellar play from his defensive end spot.  Mostoller was a constant presence in opposing backfields with 13 sacks, and a reported 31 tackles behind the line of scrimmage.  Mostoller was also the area's best tight end, and led Somerset in receiving yards and catches, while hauling in six touchdowns. Mostoller is undecided where he will be playing next year, but was drawing interest from a number of FCS and Division II teams.

Austin Myers 5'11" 190 Junior RB/LB Conemaugh Township
Highlights.  2,021 Rushing Yards. 19 Touchdowns. 58 Solo Tackles. 

Imagine the other team knows you are getting the ball every play, and you are still able to rush for 2,000 yards in 11 games.  That's exactly what Austin Myers accomplished this year. The junior back for Township carried the load all season long, and even found himself in the top ten nationally in rushing attempts on Maxpreps. So for durability alone, Myers was a very reliable runner for the 4-7 Indians. In the final game of the regular season that sealed a playoff berth for Township, Myers rushed for 330 yards and 4 touchdowns against North Star in a convincing 42-8 win.  He will be back next season for his senior year, and he could be poised for another 2,000 yard season.  

Deion Robinson 5'11" 180 Senior RB/DB Blairsville
Highlights. 1,606 Rushing Yards. 28 Touchdowns. 14 catches. 167 yards. 2 Touchdowns. 

Blairsville had a memorable season with a perfect 10-0 regular season, and an outright Heritage Conference championship.  In the district semifinal against Portage, Blairsville had all the momentum and the lead, but Deion Robinson was injured, and the whole complex of the game changed and Blairsville bowed out to the Mustangs.  Robinson was that important to the Bobcats' success. He scored 30 touchdowns in 11 games, and was one of the more dynamic and exciting running backs in the area. He finishes his career with 3,525 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns.  

Will Seymour 6'1" 220 Senior QB/LB Central Cambria
Highlights 1,654 Passing Yards. 15 Touchdowns. 1,130 Rushing Yards. 11 Touchdowns.

Will Seymour was the offense for Central Cambria this season, and there is no other way to put it.  The senior quarterback had an excellent passing year by going over the 1,000 yard mark, throwing for 15 scores to throwing just four interceptions.  Seymour was also a bruising runner, and led the team in rushing with 1,130 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Seymour is built more like a fullback than a quarterback, and it was a treat to see him run over defenders in the open field. Seymour rallied the team after a tough 0-3 start, to go 5-2 down the stretch, but they narrowly missed the playoffs. He was a player that improved all three years as a starter, and he leaves Central Cambria as one of their better players in recent memory. 

Eric Sherkel 5'11" 185 Junior QB/DB Moshannon Valley
Highlights. 1,323 Passing Yards. 15 Touchdowns. 1,130 Rushing Yards. 9 Touchdowns. 3 Ints

Eric Sherkel had a big junior season, and he led the Knights back into the postseason in 2014. Sherkel improved on his passing from last season and tossed 15 touchdowns in his junior campaign.  He also remained a dangerous runner with nearly 1,000 rushing yards.  Sherkel is a very dangerous open-field runner and turned some interceptions and special teams returns into big plays with his deceptive running style.  He will be back next season and will have Moshannon Valley in the ICC title hunt all year long.  

Chantz Swartz 6'0" 178 Junior RB/LB Juniata
Highlights. 1,593 rushing yards. 26 touchdowns. 15 catches. 500 yards. 7 touchdowns. 

Chantz Swartz may be the best player you never heard of in district six. Swartz plays for Juniata out the outskirts of the district, and had an incredible junior season while doing it all for the Indians.  Swartz rushed for 26 touchdowns and nearly 1,600 yards. He used his speed and athleticism to double up as a tremendous receiver for Juniata as well. He looked very comfortable lining up on the outside and in the backfield. His play-making had Juniata hosting a home playoff game with a 9-2 record. With him returning next season, Juniata could be a dark-horse to win district six. 

Grant Syster 5'10" 196 Senior RB/LB Purchase Line
Highlights. 2,533 Rushing Yards. 33 Total Touchdowns. 

Grant Syster set the Indiana County all-time rushing record in a single season with 2,533 yards.  Syster was spectacular and finished the year with 218 total points, when you take into consideration his touchdowns and conversions, that's an impressive feat.  Syster opened the year in a big way with a SEVEN touchdown game, and he did more of the same all season long. Syster helped guide Purchase Line to a 6-4 record, but they ultimately fell short of a playoff berth despite their winning record. Syster finished his career as the Purchase Line all-time leading rusher with 4,314 yards. 

Daniel Taylor 5'10" 160 Senior RB/LB Tussey Mountain
Highlights. 1,348 rushing yards. 18 touchdowns. 15 catches. 307 yards. 7 touchdowns. 3 ints. 

Daniel Taylor followed up a big junior season with another impressive campaign in 2014. His two years as a featured back for the Titans resulted in a 20-6 record, which included a district five championship last season.  Taylor is a versatile back and showed that with his receiving abilities the past two seasons.  Taylor was a workhorse back that went over 1,300 yards in 2014. He also proved his worth on defense this season with 35 solo stops and 3 interceptions.  Taylor finished his career with nearly 5,000 all-purposes yards during one of Tussey Mountain's more successful stretches in recent memory. 

Jon Wagner 6'0" 175 Junior RB/DB Huntingdon
Highlights. 1,365 rushing yards. 19 touchdowns. 2 receiving touchdowns. 34 solo tackles.

Jon Wagner had a very big junior season, and helped take Huntingdon the whole way to the district six AA semifinals.  Wagner paced the Bearcats' rushing attack with 1,365 yards and 19 scores. He saved one of his best games for the playoffs, with 239 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns against Juniata in a 28-21 win in the first round.  Wagner also led the team in tackles. Wagner came up with three kickoff returns for a touchdowns as well. With Wagner returning, Huntingdon could be a factor in the district six AA race in 2015. 

Matt Wiley 6'3" 205 Senior FB/LB Chestnut Ridge
Highlights. 945 rushing yards. 12 touchdowns. 102 total tackles. 2 sacks. 1 interception.

Matt Wiley took Chestnut Ridge to their third straight District Five AA championship. Wiley was the heart and soul of a a very stout defense that pitched four shutouts in their 10 wins, and held teams to under 20 points in their other six wins. Wiley was the leading tackler, and at 6'3" 205 pounds was athletic enough to make plays everywhere, and physical enough to stick his nose in the middle of plays. Wiley was also a physical fullback that led the Lions in rushing in 2014.  His presence will be sorely missed by Chestnut Ridge next season. 

This list is compiled of the twenty best players in the area, and they are listed alphabetically.  We included both Districts 5 and 6 with teams from Class A through AAA.  Unlike other all-area teams, this was not done the traditional way that features position by position. Our coverage area is too wide to narrow it down to just one quarterback or one running back, this list simply features the 20 best players in the 2014 season.

Obviously we could not include every great player in the area, as we had to narrow it down to just 20 players from 53 different teams throughout the region.  It was not an easy task, but I feel this is a fair list that spans all reaches of both districts.

Coming soon, we will announce our individual awards.  We will be naming an offensive player of the year for both districts, along with a defensive player award.  We will also name the top head coach for both districts based off of this season.

As always, thank you for following along with us this season.  Be sure to follow us on Twitter @D6SN and like us on Facebook at D6 Sports Network. We would like to say thank you to all of the fans, coaches, athletic directors, and fellow members of the media for all your help this season. And most importantly, thank you to the players for having another memorable season of local high school football, and it is one I do not think we will be forgetting anytime soon.

Year three is in the books with the D6 Sports Network.  We hope to see you next year with some new ideas and content, while keeping our local football known throughout the great state of Pennsylvania.

Thank you once again,
Jim Hammett, D6SN Editor/Co-founder. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

D6SN Boys Basketball Rankings: Week Three


1. Hollidaysburg 3-2

The Golden Tigers had a solid 2-1 week with wins over Altoona and Junita, and a close loss to a good AAAA Hempfield team from the WPIAL.  Hollidaysburg was impressive, not just by beating Altoona, but by beating them by 23.  They head to District 3 to take on Susquehannock for a tournament this weekend. 

2. Johnstown 2-1 

The Trojans had a rough start to the year with a loss to Bishop Carroll in which they gave up 105 points, but they rebounded nicely with a pair of wins over Altoona and Penn Cambria.  It was a big win over Altoona, as the Trojans used a late push to take down their old rivals on the road. Johnstown has a big four game week, and it starts with Forest Hills Monday, and they could have a showdown with Hollidaysburg in their tournament Saturday night. 

3. Somerset 2-0

So we thought Somerset may have shown some rust from football, but they came away with a solid showing in the UPJ Mountain Cat tournament, and started off with wins over Conemaugh Township and Blairsville. The big test will be Monday, with a trip up 219 to take on Bishop Carroll.

District Six AA

1. Blairsville 3-2

A 3 point loss to Hollidaysburg and a 1 point loss to Somerset aren't bad losses, hard to punish them for that.  The Bobcats are a really nice team and they are about to go on a run here in conference play, they won't have too many more losses in the regular season this year. 

2. Penns Valley  3-0

The Rams are out to a good start. They have a big three game week highlighted by road games at Bellwood and Central. 

3. West Branch 2-0

The Warriors have raced out to a 2-0 start, and looked impressive beating Moshannon Valley last week. They have games at Williamsburg, Curwensville, before a home game against Mt. Union this week. 

4. Mt. Union  4-0

The Torjans are out to a hot 4-0 start, and they have all been in convincing fashion.  The big test this week will be the game at West Branch. If this team comes out this week 6-0, they could be in contention for the top spot in the rankings. 

5. Tyrone  4-0

Tyrone had a big one point win over a tough Tussey Mountain team to remain unbeaten.  It is definitely surprising to see Tyrone playing so well with what they lost last season. They have a big game with Huntingdon this week, and a trip to Clearfield as well. 

District 5 AA

1. Chestnut Ridge 3-0

The Lions are unbeaten, and relatively untested. They have road games at Everett and Forbes Road this week, and they should be 5-0 at the end of the week. 

2. Tussey Mountain 1-2

Another tough loss for the Titans as they dropped a one point decision to Tyrone.  Both defeats have come by one single point. They will bounce back. 

3. Berlin 1-0

The Mountaineers are 1-0 on the young season, They have three winnable games this week, starting with North Star Monday. 

District 6 A

1. Bishop Carroll 4-0

The Huskies have picked up right where they left off the past two few regular seasons. They have a big game Monday night against Somerset, and two games at Westmont and North Star.  

2. Bishop Guilfoyle 0-0

OK, now it's basketball season.  Congratulations Marauders on being the state champs in football. 

3. Portage 3-0

The Mustangs are out to a quick 3-0 start, can they keep it going? Road games with Meyersdale and Windber sandwich a home game against Harmony. 

4. Homer Center 1-1

The Wildcats have a home game with Purchase Line on Monday. 

5. Conemaugh Valley 2-0

The Jays are out to a nice 2-0 start, but they will be tested with three games this week. We will find out quickly if they are for real. 

District 5 A

1. Shanksville 1-0

The Vikings open the year with a convincing win over their rivals, Shade 68-53.  They will take on Turkeyfoot Valley on Friday. 

2. Southern Fulton 3-1

The Indians had a nice showing at the UPJ tournament, and dismantled our preseason favorite, Conemaugh Township.  

3. Shade 2-2

The Panthers are sitting 2-2 right now. They have one game this week, and it's against Turkeyfoot Valley, and they should move to 3-2 before Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

PIAA Class A State Championship Preview: Clairton vs. Bishop Guilfoyle

Clairton will be making their sixth trip to Hershey in the past seven years.  The Bears have won four state championships in this recent run of success and will be looking to add to their school's impressive legacy.  Bishop Guilfoyle just won their first district championship since 1987, and will be making their first ever trip to Hershey. Despite these differences, it seemed like these schools have been on a 15 week collision course to meet each other in this very game.

Bishop Guilfoyle has undergone a remarkable turnaround in recent seasons. After a 1-8 record in 2011 when the current senior were freshmen, the team is now 15-0 playing for a state championship. The job Head Coach Justin Wheeler has done at Bishop Guilfoyle has been nothing short of outstanding, and he has really restored pride to this program. The confidence this team plays with every Friday starts with him, and he brings a certain energy to the mix.

Obviously any coach needs the horses to make it work, and this Guilfoyle team certainly has them. The Marauders have a potent offense highlighted by a strong running game led by a big and physical offensive line.  Sam McCloskey has led the attack all year long, and has posted 2,111 yards and 40 rushing touchdowns. The 5'10" 185 pound senior also has hauled in 17 receptions for 385 yards and 4 scores. McCloskey will be taking his talents to Division One Lehigh next Fall.  The other key member of the Bishop Guilfoyle attack is the Villanova-bound, Brandon Chadbourn.  The senior play-caller has 1,052 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. He is not a traditional drop back passer, but has the arm to keep teams honest with 1,499 passing yards and 14 touchdowns.  The Guilfoyle offense will need both of these players to be on their A game on Friday night.

Bishop Guilfoyle has other offensive threats besides the big two. Tight end Matt Gormley leads the team with 428 receiving yards and 7 scores. They can turn to a short yardage back like DJ Kitt when they need to, and they also have Evan Chadbourn and Sam Keating on the outside leading the receiving corps. Make no mistake about it, Guilfoyle wants to live off of McCloskey and Chadbourn running around making plays, but they have other options if need be.

Clairton is in a familiar place. The Bears have been accustomed to playing the Friday afternoon championship in Chocolate town, and despite a one year absence, they are back at it in full force in 2014. Wayne Wade inherited a well oiled machine from previous head coach, Tom Nola, and kept things rolling....and then some. All the 2014 Bears have done is break the state's all-time team scoring mark in a season, and they have done it with one of the most explosive and diverse offenses this school has ever produced.

When you think Clairton football, you naturally think unbelievable running game, and of course - Clairton has that again. The Bears are paced by a sensational sophomore, Lamont Wade. Wade has 45 total touchdowns this season behind a 2,550 rushing yards. It is safe to say Wade is one of the best sophomores in the state, if not the best. In fact, he may be one of the best in the country, and is already drawing interest from a number of division one colleges.  The Bears have a special one, and he could put together a career to rival Tyler Boyd's, and he is off to a heck of a start.

You do not always expect to see a great passing game to go along with a back like Wade, but that is exactly the case with Clairton. Ryan Williams is having an outstanding season throwing the ball with 2,877 yards and 39 touchdowns to just 3 interceptions.  Williams spreads the ball around, and can throw the deep ball very well. He has a number of targets he can find, but it's Aaron Matthews that may stick out the most. The junior is being touted as a high level recruit and has caught 39 passes for 760 yards with 17 total touchdowns.  He is the most talented player in the receiving corps, but James Hines has been equally as effective. It is near impossible to account for everything Clairton is throwing at you, and sometimes the hope is just to slow them down a little bit, while scoring with them at the same time.

Defense is a big part of this game, and both teams have good ones. Starting with Bishop Guilfoyle, the Marauders have given up 11 offensive touchdowns in 15 games this season.  In recent weeks, Bishop Guilfoyle's opponent has scored 69 points the week prior to playing them, and managed just 21 points against against the Marauders. They have found a way to slow down some explosive offenses recently, but that task will be even more difficult going against this Clairton team. Meanwhile, Clairton has an excellent defense, but they have been giving up a few big plays this season, and Guilfoyle is an offense that can make them pay.  Sometimes their best defense can simply be overwhelming teams with their offense, although it will be tough to psych out a headstrong Bishop Guilfoyle team like this.

Both teams bring a great deal of pride, confidence, and talent into this game.  They are similar in a lot of ways, but very different in others.  Guilfoyle has a size and physical advantage, where Clairton has a speed and athleticism advantage,  It is a great contrast, and should make for a very entertaining game.  Sometimes you don't always see the two best teams in the state championship game, but I think this is a year where both teams are a cut above the rest.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

D6SN Boys Basketball Power Rankings: Week Two


1. Hollidaysburg 1-1 

Hollidaysburg knocked off a good AA team in Blairsville to start off the year. They then fell to Indiana by one point. That's a very good showing by the Golden Tigers, as some are calling Indiana a contender in the WPIAL this season. They host cross-town rival, Altoona this week and travel to play a very good Hempfield team on Saturday.

2. Johnstown 0-0

The Trojans did not play this weekend. The Trojans have a big opening week coming up with road games at Bishop Carroll and Altoona to start the year, and a game against Penn Cambria that will be held at the War Memorial Arena.

3. Somerset 0-0

Somerset obviously was off this weekend, as the football team made it further than ever.  Somerset is scheduled to play Cambria Heights on Monday, but they will likely begin the season Friday night against Conemaugh Township in the UPJ Mountain Cat tournament on Friday.

District 6 AA

1. Blairsville 1-1 

I won't penalize the Bobcats too much for losing to a good AAA Indiana team to start the year. They bounced back, and knocked off Westmont the following night. Blairsville will open Heritage Conference play against Northern Cambria on Tuesday.

2. Penns Valley 1-0 

The Rams beat Williamsburg 52-43 to start the year at 1-0. They have road games against Bald Eagle, Berwick, and Tyrone all slated for this week.  We will see if Penns Valley is for real right away.

3. Bald Eagle 0-1

Bald Eagle lost their opener, but in fairness, it was to a AAAA team.  The Bald Eagles host Penns Valley on Tuesday in a big showdown.

4. West Branch 1-0

The Warriors opened with a convincing win over Philipsburg-Osceola, 80-44. They have a game with a solid Moshannon Valley team this week.

5. Penn Cambria 2-0

The Panthers opened with a nice showing in the Ron Davidson Roundball classic, which included a win over rival Central Cambria.  We will see right away if the Panthers can hang in the rankings, they host McCort and travel to take on Johnstown this week.


1. Chestnut Ridge 1-0

The Lions handled Richland to open up the year with an impressive road win. They have a road game with Fannett Metal and a home date with Northern Bedford this week, and they could build some early momentum. 

2. Tussey Mountain 0-1

The Titans lost to a good Huntingdon team by 1 point to open the year. No shame in that, and this team will get better. 

3. Berlin 0-0

The Mountaineers open up their season on Thursday against Meyersdale.

D6 A

1. Bishop Carroll 2-0

Picking up right where they left off, as Carroll moved to 2-0 this weekend in their own tip-off tournament. They have a big showdown Monday night against Johnstown. 

2. Bishop Guilfoyle 0-0

Obviously basketball isn't on their minds just yet.

3. Homer Center 1-1

Homer dropped an early one to Cambria Heights by two, but counced back to take down Purchase Line handily in their second game.  They travel down to Marion Center this week for their lone game.

4. Moshannon Valley  1-0

The Knights opened with a 10 point win over Curwensville. They take on a good West Branch team this Thursday.

5. Juniata Valley 0-1

The Hornets had a rough setback to AAA Bellefonte 64-39.  They have a game with Williamsburg this week, and their scheduled game with Guilfoyle will obviously be moved.

D5 A

1. Conemaugh Township 1-1

Township lost to Central Cambria by a wide margin to start the year. They were able to right the ship against Penns Manor the following night.They play Windber this week, before playing in the UPJ Mountain Cat this upcoming weekend. 

2. Shade 1-1

The Panthers lost to Bishop Walsh of Maryland in the Forest Hills tournament, but bounced back and took down Windber in the consolation game. 

3. Shanksville 0-0

The Vikings will open the season this week. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Districts 5/6 Boys Basketball Preseason Power Rankings


1. Hollidaysburg

The Golden Tigers drop down for AAAA, and should make an immediate impact in the AAA race.  Don't expect a great record from Hollidaysburg, but it should be better than last season's 6-15 mark. Hollidaysburg will be a real factor come playoff time, and will force everyone else to step up their games. 

2. Johnstown

The Trojans have long been the power in this classification, and they should be a good team once again. Johnstown brings back four starters including talented forward, Shaquan Reid. The meshing a new coach with a veteran team is the key, if they can click early, they will be very dangerous.

3. Somerset

Somerset won the championship last season, and they very well could do it again this year.  If past history tells us anything, long football runs don't necessarily hurt teams, but it does slow them down to start the season. It may take a while for Somerset to get rolling especially with Jake Heiple and Dylan Barnes being key players in football. Once they get settled into basketball mode, they will be a very good team. 

District Six AA

1. Blairsville

The Bobcats are coming off a solid 19-4 season, and they may be poised to be even better this season. Troy Williams is a go to 6'4" forward capable of posting 20 points and 10 rebounds a night.

2. Bald Eagle 

The Bald eagles are coming off a solid 20-6 campaign, and they return two players that averaged double figures last season. Brandon Getting led the team in scoring in 2014, and should do the same again this season.  If they can find a group of guys to compliment Getting and Jason Jones, they will be set for another big season.

3. Penns Valley 

Terry Glunt has been around for a very long time and his teams are always tough to play. The Rams will play tough defense, and they fill play at their pace. They lose some key players from last season, but they have enough to make a run again this year.

4. West Branch

The Warriors return a pair of high scoring players entering their junior seasons. Austin Krise and Mike Pennington will look to build off solid sophomore campaigns and improve upon their 16-8 mark from last season.

5. Bellwood-Antis

Bellwood had a rough year last year, but should see improvements this year.  Nathan Davis is a talented player, and should lead the Blue Devils back into the playoffs this year.

District Five AA

1. Tussey Mountain 

The Titans are always a tough team, and coach Dave Bailey will have them in the title hunt all year long. They should be much better than their 12-10 mark from last year. Michael Mitchell should have a big senior season, while Parker Cornelius and Andrew Bithell should provide good second and third options. 

2. Chestnut Ridge 

The Lions should be the main challengers to Tussey Mountain this season. Ridge should rely on the Wiley's again, just like they did in football. Matt is the leading returning scorer with 17 points a game, while Tyler posted 8 rebounds a game.  

3. Berlin-Brothersvalley

The Mountaineers lose their five leading scorers from a 23 win team in 2014, but with a talented junior class - they can make up for it quickly. AA is a different field this year with Township dropping to A, so anything can happen.

District Six A

1. Bishop Carroll

After an incredible 28-1 run last year, the Huskies still have enough in the tank to repeat. Brandon Martinazzi is one of the best players in the area, and could lead BC to another special run. 

2. Bishop Guilfoyle

The Marauders may struggle to start the year with many guys on the football field still, but come playoff time they should be rolling. 

3. Juniata Valley

The Hornets have plenty of returning from a good team in 2014. They should be a threat to make the state playoffs this season. 

4. Homer Center 

The Wildcats are always one of the most consistent programs in class A, and they should be in the mix again this season. 

5. Ferndale

I had faith in Ferndale last season, but they struggled. I think they can be a serious threat with Ray Hunton leading the charge. 

District 5 A

1. Conemaugh Township 

The drop to class A is bad news for everyone else. The Indians have won the past three AA championships and have posted a 69-14 record during that span, and they return a few starters from last year's team. 

2. Shade 

The Panthers return a few key players including guard, Jeremy Pyles.  Shade has been as consistent as anyone lately, and they should have some good battles with Township this year. 

3. Shanksville-Stonycreek

The Vikings have everything back but leading scorer and team leader, Ryan Platt. If they can work as a team without him, they could be very tough to beat this year. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

PIAA Class AAA Eastern Final: Somerset vs. Archbishop Wood

Archbishop Wood is the defending state champion in Class AAA. In fact, in the past three seasons the Vikings have rolled out to an impressive 40-6 record with two state championships, and one second place finish.With a 12-1 record right now, the Vikings are looking to add to their run. Wood is a machine from the prestigious Philadelphia Catholic League, and they are looking for their fourth straight trip to Hershey. They are a living and breathing dynasty.

Somerset, on the other hand, is a completely different story. The Golden Eagles have never won a district championship or a state playoff game until this season. This 2014 team is without question the best team in school history. Somerset hails from District 5, and they have to combine with Districts 6,8,and 9 just to have a playoff.  Talk about different worlds between these two programs.

The 2014 edition of the Archbishop Wood Vikings is as good as ever.  They have size, speed, and loads of talent.  This is a team you could argue is the best team in the state, regardless of classification. They have rolled to a 12-1 record, and hold some very impressive wins under their belt. Wood defeated Maryland power, DeMatha Catholic to start the year, along with some wins over respected Pennsylvania teams like North Penn, West Catholic, and Imhotep Charter. They are for sure battle tested coming from a historically competitive Philadelphia Catholic League.

The Vikings boast two highly rated players heading to Penn State next season. Ryan Bates is a four star offensive linemen and anchors a big and powerful line for Wood.  Jake Cooper could be the next great linebacker for the Nittany Lions, and he leads a defense that is coming off an outstanding performance by holding Great Valley to just 7 points in the state quarterfinal. While the two Penn State recruits get their fair share of the attention, it is the Villanova-bound running back that makes this team go. Jarrett McClenton rushed for two touchdowns, caught a score, and returned a punt to the endzone for a marvelous quarterfinal performance. He has been doing that kind of thing for a few years, and he is the guy Somerset needs to keep their focus on this weekend.

It was mentioned how Somerset and Archbishop Wood come from different worlds, and that is absolutely true. Somerset plays in a very strong class A and AA conference based in the Johnstown and Altoona region called the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference, it is the home to notable small school programs like Forest Hills, Bishop Carroll, Bishop McCort, and this year's class A state semifinalist- Bishop Guilfoyle. Actually, Guilfoyle is the only team to conquer the Golden Eagles this season.

Despite the strength of schedule questions, Somerset has powered ahead with wins over four straight AAA teams in the playoffs, including a 30-0 thrashing of perennial power, Bethlehem Catholic this past week.  It was the defense that shut down BeCaHi, and the Golden Eagles hope they can replicate that performance this week. The defense may not be big, but they are fast. Somerset relies on the talented defensive line that features all-stater Bryce Mostoller, and senior defensive tackle Colton Slayback. The next level is anchored by another 2013 all state selection in Logan Eller at middle linebacker.  As a unit overall, Somerset is very fast and have knocked off bigger and stronger teams in each of the past two weeks.

Somerset's offense features a pair of speedy juniors, Dylan Barnes at QB and Jake Heiple at running back. Heiple rushed for three touchdowns last week, and is just shy of 1,500 yards this season. Raven Beeman is an exciting and versatile weapon and adds to the speed of this dangerous offense.  Bryce Mostoller is a big target at tight end and is one of the better ones in the state.

Overall this is a game with tradition vs. newcomers, city vs. country, and of course, David vs. Goliath.  Somerset is an excellent team, and one of the better AAA teams this area has ever seen, but they are going up against one of the best programs in all of Pennsylvania.  Something will have to give this weekend.

PIAA Class A Eastern Final Preview: South Williamsport vs. Bishop Guilfoyle

Bishop Guilfoyle enters this game with an unblemished 14-0 record, and have been dominant in all 14 contests. The Marauders have been exceptional on defense and explosive on offense. They used their same recipe for a 62-21 thrashing of District 3 champion, Camp Hill. BG got down early 21-7 on some uncharacteristic mistakes, but from there Guilfoyle rolled with 55 unanswered points to punch their first ever ticket to the state's final four.

Camp Hill boasted one of the better passing games in the state and were coming off a 63 point output the previous week, but they managed just two touchdowns on offense. Bishop Guilfoyle's powerful and imposing defensive line put Camp Hill under constant pressure and turned in six sacks for their effort. Owen Wolf, Matt Gormley, Andrew Berger, and Dakota Leamer all posted sacks, and the experienced line is one of the strong points for this Bishop Guilfoyle team, and they will need it this week going up against a very prolific rushing attack. Bishop Guilfoyle's defense is one very distinct advantage in this game, as they have been down right suffocating this year.

Dominick Bragalone is one of the more prolific backs in state history, and he is the focal point for the 13-1 District 4 champions. The senior for South Williamsport rushed for 443 yards and six touchdowns last week and led his team to a 69-41 victory over Pius X.  Bragalone is now over the 3,000 yard mark this season to go along with 46 total touchdowns. At 5'11" 210 pounds, he is a bruising back for the single A level, and with a line that averages 263 pounds, it's a perfect storm for an incredibly successful running game.

As good as South Williamsport has been on the offense, they have certainly had a few times where they have allowed points on defense, like last week giving up 41 to Pius X. They aren;t a bad defense, but far from dominant.  Fortunately for Bishop Guilfoyle, they have one of the more explosive offenses you will see at the single A level.  The Marauders' attack starts with their dominant senior running back, Sam McCloskey. The Lehigh recruit went for an impressive performance himself in the state quarterfinals with 291 rushing yards and three touchdowns, and he also caught a 59 yard score. He is explosive, and has a different style that his counterpart, Bragalone. BG also boasts another impressive offensive player in senior quarterback, Brandon Chadbourn, He rushed for 100 yards last week and a touchdown, threw for two scores, and returned an interception 90 yards for another one. Not many players can provide the versatility Chadbourn can.

Bishop Guilfoyle and Camp Hill both rely heavily on the running games, they just go about it in different ways.  The Marauders use a blend of speed and power, where South Williamsport is going to come right at you with their strength and power.  This is the type of games where both teams will find ways to score, but it is where the defense will need to make an extra stop or two to come away victorious.  It is an unstoppable force going up against an immovable object, and it should make for an excellent state semifinal game.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

PIAA Class A State Quarterfinal: Bishop Guilfoyle vs. Camp Hill

Bishop Guilfoyle vs. Camp Hill (10-2 District 3 Champions)
Friday 7:00 Chambersburg High School

Bishop Guilfoyle enters the state playoff with an unblemished 13-0 record. They were able to dispatch a tough Portage team last week to earn the school's first district six championship since 1987. It has been a historic season for the Maruaders, and one they do not want to end just yet.  Many feel this Bishop Guilfoyle team has the makeup of a team that can make a run to Hershey, and that journey begins Friday night in Chambersburg.

The Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders have made it this far with a suffocating defense and an explosive offense. The offense is highlighted by the running of senior, Sam McCloskey.  The senior back rushed for four touchdowns and 235 yards last week in the district six championship, and that performance led to a scholarship offer from Lehigh University, and he ended up committing to play for the Mountain Hawks soon thereafter.  He is not the only division one football threat in this powerful offense, as Villanova-bound Brandon Chadbourn has had an excellent season at quarterback with over 1,200 passing yards and 800 rushing yards. Guys like tight end, Matt Gormley and athlete Evan Chadbourn have been the most targeted players in the passing game, and both have made some big plays this season.  It is an offense that can beat you in many ways, and it is one with some very talented pieces. For a young team like Camp Hill, it will be a tall task.

Speaking of Camp Hill's young team, they dress 39 players, with 25 of them being freshmen or sophomores - quite the contrast from the Bishop Guilfoyle senior-laden team. Camp Hill is led by a very talented quarterback in Michael Shuster. The junior signal caller has thrown for 3,373 passing yards and 40 touchdowns this season, and is drawing interest from several colleges. Michael Hope is his favorite target, and he has caught 17 of those 40 touchdowns passes. Bill Williams is the team's leading rusher as a sophomore with 1,252 yards and 17 scores, and is a very good receiver as well with 36 catches and 13 touchdowns. The Lions will certainly be one of the most potent offenses Bishop Guilfoyle has seen this year, and they will be tasked with slowing down a team coming off a 63 point championship performance last week.

The Bishop Guilfoyle defense may have some worries about that vaunted Camp Hill offense, but they have a pretty good defense - and that may be putting it lightly.  The Marauders have given up just six touchdowns all season long, and they have pitched seven shutouts on the year also.  They have a ball-hawking secondary, an imposing defensive line, and a group of experienced and talented linebackers. This team is good at every level, and they play very well together.  They have combined for 46.5 sacks, 35 forced turnovers, and 7 defensive touchdowns.  Those are pretty mind boggling numbers, and if a team is tasked with slowing down Camp Hill, it would be Bishop Guilfoyle. 

The winner of this game will take on the winner of Pius X and South Williamsport in the class A Eastern Final.  District six has fared well in this game with District three in recent years, having won four out of five of these match-ups.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

District 5A Championship Outlook: Meyersdale vs. Berlin

Meyersdale (10-2) vs. Berlin (11-1)
Saturday 7:00 Somerset Area High School


The Backyard Brawl makes a trip to the District 5 Championship game. This will mark the fourth meeting between the two neighboring schools in the past two seasons. Meyersdale won in an instant class last regular season, but Berlin got the last laugh in the playoffs. This season the Mountaineers beat the Red Raiders in the regular season, so will it be Meyersdale's chance at revenge this time?

Meyersdale went into second seeded Tussey Mountain last week and escaped with a 21-19 upset victory. The Red Raiders have been playing some of their best football in recent weeks as they have a dynamic offense and a stout defense.  Sophomore quarterback, Riley Christner, returned from injury to throw for 259 yards and a touchdown against Tussey Mountain last week. He is very talented for a sophomore and shows great poise for his age. Cole Clark and Conner Christner are the two play-making receivers for this offense. Jason Ritchey and Ty Hoover lead the rushing attack. They have different ways they can beat you, and they put that on display last week. To be at this stage of the season without a running back over 1,000 yards is a testament to their balance on offense. 

Meyersdale held a pretty good Tussey Mountain offense in check last week, and they have been doing that kind of thing all year.  They have pitched five shutouts in their 10 wins, and have been playing at a high level since their mid-season two game losing streak. Their biggest challenge will be to slow down Braden Fochtman somehow, as he went for 200 yards and two touchdowns in the first meeting.

Berlin-Brothersvalley has been one of the hottest teams in the area, and they are riding an eight game winning streak. In those eight games they have pitched five shutouts. Since trailing Portage 14-0 early in the WestPac championship, the Mountaineers have scored 133 unanswered points. The Berlin dominance starts with their sensational running back, Braden Fochtman. He has already rushed for 299 yards and 6 touchdowns in the district playoffs, and will look to add to that impressive total. Berlin has also seen a spike in the rushing game with quarterback Brentson Harding having some big games lately.  He is a good passer as well, and it gives this offense another dynamic if he's running and passing well.

As we said, this Berlin defense has been down right dominant of late. Dante Paul has 22 tackles for loss, while Toby Cahill has 13. Bryce Fochtman leads the way with four interceptions. In fact Berlin has 41 takeaways this season with a +25 turnover margin this season. 

(Helmets courtesy of

District Six A Championship Outlook: Portage vs. Bishop Guilfoyle

Portage (11-1) vs. Bishop Guilfoyle (12-0)
Friday 7:00 Mansion Park Stadium

Portage and Bishop Guilfoyle meet for the second straight year, but the stakes are slightly higher this time.  Bishop Guilfoyle went into Portage's stadium last year and humbled the Mustangs 42-10 in the district playoffs. This time the game will be Bishop Guilfoyle's stadium, and a championship is on the line.  These two teams topped our local power rankings all year long, and were the teams I picked to meet here before the playoffs started. The week is here, and the much-anticipated matchup is upon us. 

Portage comes into this game after a thrilling semifinal victory over Blairsville last week. The Mustangs overcame a late deficit and took the lead with under two minutes, and survived a deep drive by Blairsville to advance to the district final for the second time in school history. Like many times over the past three seasons, it was a heavy dose of Caleb Kephart to lead the Portage offense. The senior back rushed for 239 yards and two scores to raise his impressive season totals to 2,327 yards and 33 touchdowns. The offense often receives substantial production from their second back, Luke Dividock.  He is over the century mark this season, and is another dangerous runner. Michael Bryja is a more than capable quarterback, and at 6'5" has the size and tools to make some big throws. He has tossed 8 touchdowns this season in Portage's run-happy offense. 

The Portage defense stiffened when they needed to last week, and have held in check two very good Heritage teams down in the first two rounds to reach the championship game.  They have faced some of the area's best runners in recent weeks, and that should be good simulation for facing the vaunted Bishop Guilfoyle offense on Friday. 

Bishop Guilfoyle raced past Bellwood-Antis 48-7 last week to earn their second straight berth in the district final. The Marauders have been steamrolling just about anything in their path this season, and it's hard to imagine them slowing down anytime soon.  The Bishop Guilfoyle offense is explosive, and it's been a two-headed monster doing most of the damage this season. Sam McCloskey is having some kind of season with 1,436 rushing yards, 326 receiving yards, and 36 touchdowns on offense. He has been nearly unstoppable this year.  Brandon Chadbourn is the other half of this dynamic duo, and he has been fantastic in his own right. The senior QB is completing 63% of his passes with 1,245 yards and 12 scores. He has also rushed for 746 yards and nine touchdowns.  They third star of this offense is the tight end, Matt Gormley. He has come up with some huge plays this year, and is a very good player.

Bishop Guilfoyle's offense is flashy and gets a lot of attention, but it has been their defense that has been most impressive.  The Marauders allowed a touchdown last week in the second half, and that was just the fourth touchdown they have allowed in 12 games this season.  They normally do not surrender a lot, and it's hard to mention this defense without Adam Berger. He is having an absurd season, and you can pretty much pencil him into first team all state defensive line right now. 


- Portage will be without Head Coach Garry Gouse, as he was ejected last week against Blairsville.

- Portage is playing in just their second district final in school history, and their first since 2008.

- Bishop Guilfoyle should feel right at home, as they use Mansion Park as their home field. This will be their 8th game at the stadium this year. 

- A LHAC team has not won this championship since the 2010 Bishop Carroll team.

- The last time a WestPac team won this championship was Windber in 2000. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

District Six AA Championship Outlook: Tyrone vs. Mt. Union

Tyrone 11-1 vs. Mt. Union 12-0
Saturday 7:00 Mansion Park Stadium 

Speed vs. Power.....Tradition vs. Newcomers.....ICC vs. Mountain League. These are just some of the story lines heading into the highly anticipated District Six AA championship Saturday night. The top two seeds survived the first two rounds and give us the championship game many wanted to see from the onset of the playoffs. 

So much was talked about if Mt. Union could stack up against the defending district champions, Central. I would say by the result of the game, not only did they stack up, they were far and away the better team. The speed and athleticism of Mt. Union just overwhelmed what many believed was a good Central team, and it led to a 61-13 rout.  Like many times this year, BJ Loner had a dazzling performance. The senior athlete rushed 11 times for 163 yards for three touchdowns, while also catching a touchdown.  This offense goes as he does, and he looks locked in right now. Trevon Walker has thrown for over 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns this season, but it was his rushing performance that raised eyebrows last week. The senior play-caller went for 211 rushing yards and 4 scores on the ground and helped lead his team to victory. If both of those players are clicking like that, they will be tough to beat.  Throw is Robbie Steel, DJ Bookwalter, Kole Hole, and Keiton Pillock and you have an offense filled with guys capable of making plays.

The Mt. Union defense does not always get the credit it deserves, but they locked down a good Central passing attack. The defensive line led by Brody Suter got after the quarterback and forced them into bad throws. The talented and athletic secondary took advantage of those mistakes, and hauled in four interceptions. Kole House and BJ Loner have been intercepting everything in sight this season, and they continue to play well as the competition gets better.

Tyrone easily dispatched rival Huntingdon 43-15 in the semifinals, and they return to their home away from home for another district title appearance. The Golden Eagles have a balanced offense, a strong defense, and the size and speed to make a run. Tyrone's offense starts with Garrett Hunter at quarterback. The senior went 10-17 for 115 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions last week. It was another strong, mistake-free game from Hunter. Garrett Hunter may be the one that steadies the offense, but Aleic Hunter is the one that makes it run. The senior back rushed for 157 yards and two score to raise his totals to 1,741 and 19 touchdowns. Nicholas Getz led the team in receiving last week, and has been doing it all year long.  Silas Crawford and Duane Boone also provide reliable targets for Hunter. 

The Tyrone defense has been stiffing this season, and has held their two playoff opponents to just 22 points thus far. They are led by one of the area's top defensive ends, Duane Boone.  He went for 4 tackles for loss against Huntingdon last week, and can cause problems in the Mt. Union backfield. Richard Reader and Elijah Sleeth are also big players for this defense. Tyrone is stout against the run, and have been impressive against the pass as well, but chances are they have not seen this kind of speed all season and it will present a new challenge for them. 


-- The winner of this game will play the District 10 Champion next week. Greenville (11-1) and Hickory (9-2) play Saturday afternoon for their championship.

-- Tyrone is going for ninth District Six AA championship. They are currently tied with Forest Hills for the most all-time with 8.

-- Mt. Union is going for their first championship ever. They were the runners-up in 1992 and 1993. 

(Helmets courtesy of Pa Helmet Project)