Thursday, September 4, 2014

Eight Games to watch: Week Two 9/5-9/6

8. Penns Manor (0-1) at Northern Cambria (1-0)
Friday 7:00

Penns Manor will look to get into the win column after a big defeat at the hands of Homer Center.  The Comets have a promising group of skilled players, but they are mostly all stepping into bigger roles this season. They played well last week, but couldn't keep up with the fast paced Homer Center offense. Bailey Mumau is a good looking back, and I look for him to build on last week's solid performance.  Penns Manor has not always been a good passing team, but I think Clayton Stupic will be able to give them a threat of an air-it-out game this year.  The defense needs to sure up, but with so many new interior players it may take a while.

Northern Cambria made a statement with a win over Ligonier Valley in week one. The defense created turnovers and made life difficult on Ligonier. The offense has a solid passing game in the making with the Tyler Pershing to Joey Olish connection. The Colts also can make it happen on the ground with Adam Weiland, and gives them a good balance. It is obvious the program is excited with Coach Paronish returning to the sidelines, and he may have sparked this team for a big season.

My Call - I like Northern Cambria in this one. They played very well last week against a good Ligonier team, and they showed a little bit of everything. It is obvious that Penns Manor has some work to do on defense, and I think the Colts will be able to exploit that.

Colts 34 Comets 21

7. Berlin (1-0) at Conemaugh Township (1-0)
Friday 7:00

Berlin opened with a sound victory of Shade last week. The Mountaineers followed the same plan as they did all of last year, and that was get the ball to Braden Fochtman. He posted a 172 yard performance in week one, and his quest for another 2,000 yard season is off to a good start. Berlin played well on defense and limited Shade to just 6 points and forced 4 turnovers. If there is one area for improvement, it would be limiting their own turnovers. Berlin had 3 fumbles and two interceptions, and they will need to take care of the ball better this week. 

Conemaugh Township rode their own workhorse running back to a week one win over Windber, and it appears maybe the Indians are ready to compete for one of the top spots in the WestPac again.  Austin Myers torched Windber for 45 carries and 247 yards and 3 touchdowns, and he will likely get the call again this week to carry the offense. Teams will start to load the box, so look for Jeff Tresnicky to make more than 2 throws this week. Windber was able to shut this team out in the second half, so they will need to make adjustments.

My Call - This game will be a good one, and it will be spirited with some Berlin players having used to play for Township. This game wil feature Myers taking on Fochtman head to head. It will be a running back dual, but I look for Berlin to take it.  

Mountaineers 28  Indians 16

6. Ligonier Valley (0-1) at Purchase Line (1-0)
Friday 7:00
Ligonier Valley will look for redemption after dropping a 15-12 opener to Northern Cambria. The Rams have a talented team, but they are a young one fronted by a sophomore QB, Collin Smith. He had a rough debut as a QB, but he is a play-maker, and he will get better. The Rams need a more consistent ground game too, and that will come as the season goes.  If they would have limited turnovers last week, they would have put themselves in a better position to win.  

Purchase Line opened the season in a big way with a win over Saltsburg 58-19. If you need to know one thing about this Dragons' football team, it's the Grant Syster show all day, every day. The senior running back posted 7 touchdowns last week, and did it all for his team to win. I look for that to be the same game plan all season long. Purchase Line is a team on the rise this season, and a win here would really send a message to everyone else.

My Call - This is a tough game to predict, as both teams still have some uncertainties. I am going to take Purchase Line at home, with another big performance from Syster. It will be a close one. 

Dragons 22 Rams 14

5. Bedford  (1-0) at Central Cambria (0-1)
Friday 7:00
Central Cambria is looking to get their first win after a defeat at the hands of Johnstown in week one.  The stats matched up well, but Johnstown broke off a few more big plays to win the game 28-14. The Red Devils' star QB, Will Seymour, couldn't find a lot of running lanes last week, and they need him to break off some big runs to help settle their offense.  The Red Devils have a lot of different options on offense, and they'll be alright, but Bedford after a road trip to Johnstown is a tough start to the season.

Bedford won 19-6 over Penn Cambria in week one, but it was not the big splash some were expecting. Bedford has been generally regarded as one of the top four teams in this league, and it wasn't the start some were envisioning. Still, Penn Cambria could be better, and it's hard to judge things after one week. Bedford has talent, and they will score points. Austin Montgomery can play, and he'll have this offense rolling in no time.

My Call - Obviously the Devils are going to do everything they can to avoid dropping to 0-2, and it will be a good game with two good QB's going at it in Ebensburg. I just think this will be a close game, but I'm giving the edge to Bedford.

Bison 23 Red Devils 20

4. Moshannon Valley (1-0) at Bellwood-Antis (0-1)
Friday 7:00

Moshannon Valley has a really difficult early season schedule, and they passed their first test with a 27-7 win over Bald Eagle. It should be a little more difficult this week with a trip to ICC power, Bellwood-Antis. The Knights have a good player in Eric Sherkel, and he had a solid game in week one, but he will need to limit turnovers and probably find more running lanes this week. Sherkel is the type of player that can keep plays alive and make them into big gainers out of nothing, and going up against a tough team like Bellwood, that is absolutely what he has to do. 

Bellwood-Antis nearly pulled off a win at Tyrone in the Backyard Brawl, but their final drive was cut short and they lost 18-14. The Blue Devils were not given much of a chance in that one, but they did more than hold their own against a good Tyrone team, and that may have put away any doubts that Bellwood may be down this season. Jake Burch is a good QB, and look for the running game to improve this week. 

My Call - I like Bellwood to get into the win column. The Blue Devils have a strong Defense, and a rising QB in Jake Burch.  Moshannon Valley will be able to hang, but Bellwood is a deeper team.

Blue Devils 26 Black Knights 18

3. Tussey Mountain (0-1) at Northern Bedford (1-0)
Friday 7:00 Panther Community Stadium 

Ah yes, another exciting installment of the Backyard Brawl is set for this weekend. Tussey Mountain will look to get back into the win column this week after falling to defending district six AA champ, Central. It was a tough opener in general, and Tussey never seemed to get things on track. Daniel Taylor had a solid day rushing the ball with 110 yards, and he will need to keep churning out those kind of performances for the Titans. Quinn Barnett was held in check throwing the ball, and that is not a good sign. Barnett was a 1,500 yard passer in 2013, and only threw for 22 on Friday. The air attack needs to be better. 

Northern Bedford had a solid win in week one with a 20-6 decision over Glendale. The Panthers vowed to get the running game going this season, and it appears that plan is in full effect already. Austin Heck and Elias Brailler combined for 221 yards on the ground for all three touchdowns. The Panthers will continue to ground and pound, but they do have one of the best receivers in the area in Jacob Dasher. NBC needs to get him involved more this season. 

My Call - Both teams played to a close final last season, with Northern Bedford prevailing 28-20, Although both teams look different, the game should still have that same competitive spirit. I like for both teams to try to establish the run, but it's the team that is able to make a few plays in the air that should win the game.  I think Barnett shows up better this week and will be the difference maker.

Titans 28 Panthers 21

2. Somerset (1-0) at Forest Hills (1-0)
Friday 7:00 G.H. Miller Field

Somerset and Forest Hills squaring off is one of the big games of the entire LHAC season, and could be a major factor in the overall conference championship race. A win here would set either team with a leg up in that regard, and it would be a big win down the line for playoff seeding.  Forest Hills seems to be better than last season, and more importantly, they are healthy for this season. The Rangers dealt with injuries all season long last year, but they have a line in tact to protect what could be a very potent offense. Joe Donoughe made a bigger impact on defense last week, but he is easily one of the best quarterbacks in the area.  Shareef Blough is a big play waiting to happen, and both players are ball hawks on defense. This is a good Forest Hills team. 

Somerset is also loaded this season. The Golden Eagles just pitched a shut out in week one, and they have a defense that is capable of doing that any given week. Logan Eller and Bryce Mostoller are the headliners on that unit, but they have plenty of guys that fly to the ball and close gaps quickly. On offense, it looks like Dylan Barnes is the man they were hoping he would be. It was a nice luxury he gained all that experience last year, and it is going to show off in games like this. 

My Call - Somerset and Forest Hills are two very good football teams that are filled with senior leaders and experienced guys up and down the depth charts. Somerset has a very good pass rush, and they do have guys that can lock down their big plays, so Forest Hills needs to establish both the run and the pass to keep things off balanced.  I look for this to be a very compeititve game, but I am taking Somerset.

Golden Eagles 34 Rangers 30

1. Tyrone (1-0) at Central (1-0)
Friday 7:00

Tyrone needed every second of Friday's game to hold off a scrappy Bellwood team in the Backyard Brawl. It will not get any easier this week with a trip to Roaring Spring for a big showdown with the defending District Six champions.  Tyrone ushered in some new starters at quarterback and running back, and while they are one of the top teams, they still needed to get adjusted. The offense made some plays, and I think Garrett Hunter will have the offense clicking a little better as the season progresses. Aleic Hunter can run, and Getz is a good receiver.  Obviously a glaring need here could be a kicking game, 3 touchdowns but just 18 points. Could that play a factor?

Central lost so much from one of their best teams ever. Still, after seeing week one's result may lead us to believe they are better than some might have anticipated. Replacing Cunningham and Moore was always going to be a tough task, but Noah Benton and Mike Mock may be up to the challenge. Benton can throw the ball, and really opens things up for this offense, Mock can also throw the ball, and yes both players can run. The Dragons have some other athletes on the perimeter like Justin Helsel and Alex Hoenstine. Between these four players, they have athletes on offense that can make plays.

My Call - This should be a really good game as both teams are deep and both have very good athletes. A big difference in this game will be the experience of Tyrone. The Golden Eagles clearly bring more players back on defense and in the trenches, but they are still breaking in a new head coach and quarterback. Central has a lot of new faces, but they do have talent. I think these teams match up well against one another, but I am leaning with Tyrone. The Golden Eagles have a defense that can slow down the Central offense, and they also have the firepower on offense. Still, don't count out these Central kids, they are confident and want to defend their title.

Golden Eagles 30 Scarlet Dragons 27

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