HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Blairsville's Robinson makes an impact on both sides of ball
While many predicted Blairsville speedster Deion Robinson to blossom into a dynamic ball carrier this year, few outside of the realm of the Bobcats’ inner circle also envisioned him becoming a dominant defensive force.
In Blairsville’s 20-14 win over Marion Center in Week 1, Robinson showed that he’s clearly one of the Heritage Conference’s most dynamic and valuable two-way assets. Robinson not only rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns, he also amassed two sacks, three tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery from his outside linebacker position.
Last year, Marion Center held Robinson to 48 yards on 11 carries.
“He just put it on his shoulders in the second half that he was going to get it done, and that’s exactly what we got out of him,” Blairsville coach Rick Artley said. “He’s hard-nosed and he’s a hard worker. That was one of our major changes. We decided to make sure he was not a corner, even though he was definitely one of the best cover corners in the league last year. But he’s one of the hardest hitters and the hardest workers that we have, by far, so he had to come into that linebacker position.”
Robinson was indifferent when asked on which side of the ball he’d rather contribute the most, saying: “You need defense and offense to win a game, so both of them, really.”
HIS TIME IS COMING: Apollo-Ridge coach John Skiba knew his highly touted wide receiver Tre Tipton would “get a lot of love” from the North Catholic defense, and he was right.
Yet, despite his minimal role in the Vikings’ offense in their season-opening loss to North Catholic, Tipton managed to make an impact on the game, and fans can expect to see more of him in the coming weeks, Skiba said.
“I knew they were going to give him a lot of love,” Skiba said after Friday’s 22-21 double-overtime loss. “We tried to get him the ball, but we didn’t have a ton (of plays) in this week for him because I knew he was going to have to play his butt off on defense. So I didn’t want to kill him this week. In the second half, we started getting him more touches.”
Tipton had three catches for 22 yards, but one of those was a game-tying 11-yard touchdown in regulation that forced overtime.
He also returned a fourth-quarter punt 22 yards to put his team in prime field position late in the game. His return left Apollo-Ridge at its own 42 with 2:40 to play and the game tied at 14, but the highly penalized offense failed to capitalize. The Vikings committed 12 penalties for 95 yards.
It took Tipton a while to get going. All three of his receptions came after halftime, and he also ran the ball twice in the second half. He didn’t get any touches in the opening half.
“He’s a guy that can make plays. I’m going to get him more touches,” Skiba said. “I just thought we could do other things to start off, and we didn’t really get things moving because we were always backed up, backed up, and then you’re dead in the water.
“Yeah, he’s definitely going to become a bigger factor. There’s no doubt, especially this coming week.”
CRAMPING THEIR STYLE: Area teams had a heck of a time with some particularly humid weather last Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and players routinely came out of games with cramps.
At Penns Manor, the Comets had two key skill players, running back Louie Tate and quarterback Lucas Kowalski, go out in a short span in the third quarter, with others going in and out at different times of the game.
“We’re going to probably run into that (this week),” coach Bill Packer said. “We’re playing at Conemaugh Valley in the afternoon, so we’re going to have to figure something out, give them bananas and everything you can. ... We’ll have to see what we need to do, but we didn’t do it (last week), whatever it was. We had a lot of guys going down, and it was scary.”
UNDER WATER: The Northern Cambria School District was forced to cancel classes Tuesday due to flooding after heavy rain drenched the town Monday evening.
The elementary/middle school was flooded and forced to cancel classes Wednesday and today. The high school, however, re-opened Wednesday.
Much of Northern Cambria was under a few inches of water, but Friday night’s home game against Homer-Center will go on as planned.
“We went down and looked, and the field had some water on it, but it’s fine now,” Northern Cambria coach Paul Taranto said. “We actually almost had practice there, but then we didn’t need to. Of course it’s muddy, but it doesn’t look like there was any damage. It looks pretty good.”
Emergency officials estimated that 4 to 5 inches of rain came down in less than an hour on Labor Day.
“It was mostly just the elementary school that got the worst of it,” Taranto said. “We didn’t have school (Wednesday), so that kind of threw things off for a day, but practice has been fine. We’re working hard just like we do every week no matter what’s thrown at us, but it hasn’t been that big of a deal. Maintenance is actually going to cut it and line it for the junior high game (today).”
HOME COOKIN’: It’s not as if Indiana needed any added motivation for Friday’s key showdown with Franklin Regional, but the Indians got it anyway.
The Indians play their home opener at Andy Kuzneski Field on Friday against Franklin Regional, one of the projected favorites for the Greater Allegheny Conference.
While the Indians want to get off to a fast start in conference play, they also want to protect their home turf.
“Our guys typically play well at home,” Indiana coach Mark Zilinskas said. “It’s something that they’ve gotten in a frame of mind: It’s their field, it’s their turf. They want to fight hard and play hard on their home field.”
In the four seasons since artificial turf was installed at Andy Kuzneski Field prior to the 2009 campaign, Indiana has won 11 of 18 home games. The Indians are 10-3 at home over the past three seasons.
The Indians play five of their nine games at home this season, the first time they’ve had five home games since 2010.