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'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.