WEEK 1 MATCHUPS
August 29, 2013 10:45 AM

INDIANA at HAMPTON

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Indiana looks to get off on the right foot after a season gone wrong, hitting the road in the WPIAL Greater Allegheny Conference.

About Indiana: Last year’s leading passer, Sean Thompson (48 of 101, 816 yards, 6 TDs, 6 ints), will start at quarterback from the get-to this time, with top receivers Riley Stapleton (26 catches, 404 yards) and Darrious Carter (24 catches, 422 yards) to work with. DeQuan West, who appeared in just six of the Indians’ nine games last year but led the team in rushing (88 carries, 383 yards), returns with a clean bill of health. Indiana had been to the WPIAL playoffs for two straight years before going 3-6 last year. The Indians passed for a respectable 111.2 yards per game last year but couldn’t stop opposing offenses, giving up 332.9 yards per game. Carter, also a defensive end, has committed to play at Temple. The Indians have another D-I commit — Thompson, who will pitch for the Virginia Commonwealth baseball team.

About Hampton: The Talbots lost significant pieces from last year’s team that went 7-3 and lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. The leading passer and rusher are gone. Leading receiver Eddie Edwards (31 catches, 556 yards) worked at quarterback in camp. He and receiver Jon Floss are important pieces for Hampton. Hampton ended last season with two straight losses, including 14-6 against Hopewell in the playoffs.

Last year: Hampton won 45-21 in Week 1.

Next week: Indiana plays host to Franklin Regional on Friday.

 

SALTSBURG at HOMER-CENTER

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Homer-Center pits its run-oriented offense against Saltsburg’s new spread to open a season of great expectations.

About Saltsburg: The Trojans underachieved last year, finishing 3-7, but won their last two games, including an impressive season-ending victory over Blacklick Valley, which was fighting for a playoff spot. Saltsburg has the athletes in quarterback Tyler Frassenei and newly installed running back Steve Richards, but protection issues stifled a promising offense last year. Shawn Liotta will try to give his athletes a better shot in his arena football-honed scheme. Frassenei threw for just 96 yards last year, eventually moving to running back, after throwing for more than 600 as a freshman in 2011.

About Homer-Center: The Wildcats just missed out on a District 6 playoff spot last year, dropping their final three games to playoff-bound teams. They return the bulk of that roster, including quarterback Aaron Berezansky (45 of 86, 719 yards, 5 TDs, 5 ints) and running back Mike Newhouse (100 carries, 530 yards). Berezansky, like Saltsburg’s Frassenei, is a third-year starting quarterback as a junior. Homer-Center had the third-best rushing offense (205.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (16.4 points per game) in the area last year.

Last year: Homer-Center won 28-7 in Week 1.

Next week: Both teams play Friday. Saltsburg plays host to Marion Center, and Homer-Center travels to Northern Cambria.

 

NORTHERN CAMBRIA at PENNS MANOR

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Two revamped squads meet in a rematch of one of the best Heritage Conference games of last season.

About Northern Cambria: The Colts were the last Heritage Conference team standing in the District 6 Class A playoffs, bowing out with a loss to Bishop McCort in the semifinals. Northern Cambria upset rival Cambria Heights in the regular-season finale and Portage in the quarterfinals to get to that point. Many of the key players in those games — as well as the Week 1 upset of the high-flying Comets — are gone, leaving the likes of Dartagnan Suchar to take over. Suchar, second on the team in rushing (95 carries, 593 yards) takes over at quarterback. Northern Cambria is seven wins away from reaching 300 in program history.

About Penns Manor: The Comets’ strength is on the lines now that Danny Ferens, the area’s all-time leader in rushing (5,563 yards) and total yards (7,813) is gone. Penns Manor went 41-7 over the last four years, winning the District 6 Class A crown in 2011 and Heritage Conference titles in 2010 and ’12. The Comets lost to Bishop McCort in the district quarterfinals last season. Lucas Kowalski, who caught six passes for 117 yards as a receiver, takes over at quarterback, with Louie Tate (18 carries, 123 yards) at running back and Ethan Marshall (24 carries, 200 yards) at fullback.

Last year: Northern Cambria won 28-20 in Week 1.

Next week: Northern Cambria plays host to Homer-Center on Friday. Penns Manor visits Conemaugh Valley on Saturday.

 

BLAIRSVILLE at MARION CENTER

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Blairsville plays its first game in 27 years under a coach other than Ab Dettorre as Rick Artley takes on the new dean of Heritage Conference coaches, Dave Malicky.

About Blairsville: The Bobcats are coming off an up-and-down 6-4 season in which they never won or lost more than two games in a row. Back are the key cogs in the area’s top passing offense: quarterback Scott Thompson (84 of 178, 1,673 yards, 13 TDs, 10 ints) and running back Deion Robinson (22 catches, 361 yards; 96 carries, 789 yards). Thompson led the area in passing yards, and Robinson is the area’s leading returning rusher. Rick Artley has been an assistant coach at Blairsville since 1998. He is just the third coach of the Bobcats in 47 years. Ernie Widmar coached from ’66 to ’86, and Dettorre from ’87 to 2012.

About Marion Center: The Stingers take a young lineup into their opener, coming off a 3-7 season. Blake Orr (33 of 71 passing, 455 yards, 4 TDs, 5 ints) got valuable time at quarterback and returns as the starter. Noah Hoover (49 carries, 183 yards) leads the running back committee. The backs look to pick up an offense that finished eighth in the Heritage Conference in rushing (127.2 yards per game). Dave Malicky is entering his 17th season as head coach.

Last year: Blairsville won 43-20 in Week 1.

Next week: Both teams play Friday. Blairsville travels to Purchase Line, and Marion Center visits Saltsburg.

 

BISHOP CANEVIN at UNITED

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Saturday

Matchup: United’s opponent changed midweek — from a 1-9 doormat to a perennial WPIAL playoff team.

About Bishop Canevin: The Crusaders, members of the WPIAL Class A Black Hills Conference, were scheduled to play Imani Christian, which canceled its season. Bishop Canevin went 6-4 last season, losing to North Catholic in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Like United, the Crusaders also have a new coach. Darren Schoppe, a former Canevin player and an assistant for 13 years takes over for Rob Jacoby, who held the post for 40 years. The Crusaders lost significant pieces from last year’s team but will be led by returning running backs Giovanni DeMarzo (531 yards rushing) and Tyler Reddy (539).

About United: The Lions were slated to play Rockwood, which canceled its season early this week. United is coming off an 0-10 season and has lost 13 of its last 14 games overall. The Lions lost at Rockwood, 31-7, in Week 1 last year, but the Rockets went on to finish 1-9. United scored in double digits once last season — a 33-14 loss to Purchase Line. The Lions allowed 28 points or more in every game, averaging a Heritage Conference-worst 39.7 points allowed per game, versus an area-worst 3.3 points scored per game. Leading rusher Tyler Oliver (87 carries, 279 yards) returns in hopes of sparking the offense. Lance Holupka is making his head coaching debut at his alma mater.

Series history: First meeting.

Next week: United plays host to Ligonier Valley on Friday.

 

PURCHASE LINE at LIGONIER VALLEY

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Brandon Overdorff’s young charges at Purchase Line get thrown into the fire, visiting Heritage Conference favorite Ligonier Valley.

About Purchase Line: The Red Dragons are coming off a win, having beaten Conemaugh Valley, 40-6, in Week 10 and finish 2-8 last year. Injuries pressed many younger players into varsity action last year. The likes of Alec Sunderlin (22 of 77 passing, 311 yards, 4 TDs, 6 ints), Grant Syster (55 carries, 188 yards) and Gavin Ewing (nine catches, 92 yards) should benefit from the time on the field last year.

About Ligonier Valley: The Rams are coming off their first playoff win 27 years, having beaten Bald Eagle Area, 41-6, in the District 6 Class AA quarterfinals. They bowed out with a loss to Forest Hills in the semifinals. Ligonier Valley lost 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Torrance but returns quarterback Scott Fennell (57 of 107 passing, 938 yards, 12 TDs, 6 ints) and tight end Alec Bloom (16 catches, 337 yards, 7 TDs), a UConn commit. The Rams led the area in scoring defense (10.8 points per game) and turnover margin (plus-16) last year.

Last year: Ligonier Valley won 47-0 in Week 1.

Next week: Both teams play Friday. Purchase Line welcomes Blairsville, and Ligonier Valley visits United.

 

APOLLO-RIDGE at NORTH CATHOLIC

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Fresh off its first playoff appearance in five years, Apollo-Ridge opens with perhaps its biggest test of the season, visiting the defending WPIAL Eastern Conference champion.

About Apollo-Ridge: Though the Vikings lost to Monessen, 48-19, in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, 2012 was an unabashed success for Apollo-Ridge, which wasn’t expected to go anywhere. This time it’s different. The Vikings return a potent passing attack led by Jesse Zelonka (80 of 169, 1,457 yards, 19 TDs, 10 ints), Tre Tipton (39 catches, 786 yards) and Alex Smith (23 catches, 534 yards). Tipton garnered preseason first-team all-state honors from the PA Football News as a defensive back.

About North Catholic: The Trojans went 9-3 last year, losing to Sto-Rox in the WPIAL semifinals. They return leading rusher P.J. Fulmore (290 carries, 1,824 yards, 24 TDs), while Ryan Kirby (43 of 80, 539 yards) has moved to wide receiver. Aaron Sharlow is the starting quarterback. Leading receiver Ronnie Meder (four catches, 324 yards), a tight end, also is back for a squad that was a game away from playing in the WPIAL?championship game last year.

Last year: North Catholic won 40-21 in Week 1.

Next week: Apollo-Ridge visits Wilkinsburg on Saturday.

 

DERRY at ALBERT GALLATIN

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Matchup: Derry faces one of the few teams it has had success with over the last few years.

About Derry: The Trojans are coming off a 1-8 season, not having won since they beat Albert Gallatin in last season’s opener. Derry has beaten the Colonials in each of the past five years, though, and is 6-3 against them all-time. Quarterback Kyle Holmes (42 of 104, 556 yards, 3 TDs) is one of just five returning starters. Holmes tore his MCL and PCL last year but is back and will handle even more of a passing load to returning tight end Clint Beeman and a cast of newcomers at wide receiver.

About Albert Gallatin: The Colonials have had back-to-back 0-9 seasons and have lost 29 of their last 30 games. They return plenty of starters, including leading rusher and receiver Branden Dice (31 carries, 207 yards; five catches, 61 yards) and leading passer Richie Ohler (12 of 28, 95 yards).

Last year: Derry won 33-26 in Week 1.

Next week: Derry plays host to Mars on Friday.

 

WEST SHAMOKIN at SPRINGDALE

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: West Shamokin opens the Jon McCullough era with a test on the road in the WPIAL Eastern Conference.

About West Shamokin: The Wolves ended the WPIAL’s longest losing streak — a 46-game skid that began in 2007 — in Week 3 last year, then added two more victories to breathe some much-needed life into the program. McCullough, formerly the defensive coordinator under Josh Gilliland, gets back a talented backfield in fullback Zac Horner (135 carries, 785 yards, 5 TDs) and running back Andrew Wingard (145 carries, 776 yards, 8 TDs). West Shamokin won two of its final three games to close last season.

About Springdale: The Dynamos are coming off their 11th straight playoff berth, having gone 6-4 and losing to Brentwood in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs. Springdale suffered significant losses in graduated skill players, including leading rusher and receiver Sean Dugan, but returns plenty of bulk on the lines.

Last year: Springdale won 48-12 in Week 1.

Next week: West Shamokin plays host to Northgate on Friday.

 

PUNXSUTAWNEY at BROOKVILLE

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday

Matchup: The Route 36 Trophy is on the line between District 9 playoff teams.

About Punxsutawney: The Chucks went 5-6 last year, bouncing back into the Class AAA playoffs in the District 5-6-8-9 region and losing to Clearfield in the first round. Christian Falgout (172 carries, 749 yards) and Clayton Dale (24 catches, 329 yards) are key returnees and will help quarterbacks Matt Burkett and Dakota Thomas carry the offense. The Chucks lost four of their last five games last season.

About Brookville: The Raiders lost to Kane in the District 9 Class AA playoffs. They finished 6-5 last year, dropping their final three games and four of their last five. Brookville has lost three of its last four games with Punxsutawney after winning seven in a row from 2002 to ’08.

Last year: Punxsutawney won 26-23 in Week 1.

Next week: Punxsutawney welcomes Union on Friday.

 

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