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 Pahelmetproject.com)

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