Tuesday, November 11, 2014

District Six Class A Semifinal Outlook: Portage at Blairsville

Portage (10-1) at Blairsville (11-0)
Saturday 7:00 Blairsville High School

Portage last played for a district championship in 2008, since then the Mustangs have been bounced in the semifinal round three times in the past five years. Saturday night Portage will get a chance at redemption from those losses and an opportunity to break through to the district title. 

The Mustangs have the horses, so to speak, to get them there. Caleb Kephart has put up video game like numbers this season, with 2,088 rushing yards and 31 rushing touchdowns. He also has two receiving touchdowns to his credit. The Mustangs ride Kephart to success, and he has responded each week with at least 100 yard performance every time. It certainly is not a one man show  as Luke Dividock would be the featured back for a lot of teams throughout the district. He has 1,035 yards and 11 touchdowns this season to form one of district six's most lethal combinations. Although Portage is not a big passing team, they do have the luxury of having a 6'5" strong-armed quarterback at their disposal. Michael Bryja is 19-3 in his career as the Portage starting quarterback and is more than capable of making big throws. 

Portage has a 'bend but don't break" type of defense. They were humbled to a degree in their week ten defeat to Berlin, and tightened things up last week against a solid Homer-Center offense by holding them to 7 points. The Mustangs have baited their opponents into 17 interceptions this season, as they are a very opportunistic defense. Seniors, Brandon Vocco, Caleb Kephart, and Kyle Davis lead the way along with junior Luke Dividock.  

Blairsville has never won a district six championship, in fact, they have never even made it to the final game. The Bobcats will look to make history on Saturday and punch their ticket to Mansion Park. The Bobcats are an experienced team, and one that has been building up to this season for a few years now.

The Blairsville offense is paced by senior running back, Deion Robinson. He is coming off a monster game in the first round against Moshannon Valley as he had four rushing touchdowns. In all, Robinson has totaled 1,522 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year. He is just one of the many weapons Blairsville can turn to for a big play. Scott Thompson is in his third year as a starting quarterback, and he can  throw and run. His experience may come up big in a game like this. Camerson Livingston is second on the team in all-purpose yardage, and has made some huge plays for this team this season. 

Blairsville won the Heritage outright this season, and they did it in dominating fashion throughout the year. The defense for the Bobcats is only allowing 8 points per game. Cameron Livingston is making a serious bid for an all-state nod as he leads the team in tackles and has six interceptions and three fumble recoveries this year. Jacob Smith leads the team in sacks with six, and he is team's top pass rusher. Scott Thompson, Jaylin Rydbom, and Tyler Lenhardt are fellow seniors that are also huge parts to this unit. In fact, the Bobcats' top seven leading tackles are seniors.


-- The District Six class A championship will be held on Friday night this year, the winner of this game will play Bishop Guilfoyle or Bellwood-Antis. 

-- Since district six's inception, neither program has won a district tile. Portage's 2008 final appearance is the only one between the two schools. 

-- The Heritage Conference has won two of the past three District Titles, and Blairsville will look to keep that momentum going this year.

-- The last time a WestPac team won the District Six title was Windber back in 2000, that was when Districts 5 and 6 were still combined.

(Helmets courtesy of Pa Helmet Project)

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