The opposition can see it coming — they watch the Comets do it every week on film — but it seems like no defense in the Heritage Conference can shut down Penns Manor’s jet sweeps.
For years, ninth-year coach Bill Packer has peppered in the jet sweep at all the appropriate times, making the play the staple of the Comets’ simple but extraordinarily effective outside running attack.
In last week’s win over Marion Center, running backs Louie Tate and Bailey Mumau each reeled off 20-yard touchdowns on the play.
“We both love that play,” Mumau, who’s rushed for 213 yards on just 19 carries (11.2 average), said after Friday’s win. “We get the guards out and just follow the read off their blocks. You’ve got to give credit to the linemen. They’re the ones keeping us up.”
Tate and Mumau each added scores on runs off jet sweeps in the Comets’ win over Conemaugh Valley in Week 2. Tate has amassed 396 yards and seven touchdowns on 52 carries (7.6 average).
“That’s one of my favorite plays personally, because I love running to the outside,” Tate said. “But I do everything I can every time I get the ball. I love any play where I get the ball, and if I don’t, I’m still going to block as hard as I can.”
SHORTHANDED: When the Homer-Center Wildcats go for their first 6-0 start in nearly two decades on Friday, they will be without senior tight end/defensive end Kolby Skultety.
Early in the third quarter of Homer-Center’s 41-16 win over Blairsville last week, and shortly after he scored a touchdown, Skultety was ejected from the game for throwing a punch at a Blairsville player. Along with missing most of the second half of last week’s game, Skultety will also sit out Friday’s game at United, in accordance with PIAA rules.
Less than three minutes into the second half of last week’s game, Skultety caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Berezansky that gave the Wildcats a 20-3 lead.
On Blairsville’s ensuing possession, Jaylin Rydbom connected with Dylan Dirienzo for a 20-yard reception, and Dirienzo was hit late out of bounds.
Homer-Center drew one of its four personal-foul penalties, and Skultety was jawing with a Blairsville player at the end of the play. On the next play, he was called for a personal foul and thrown out for throwing a punch with 8:34 to play in the third quarter.
That set up Blairsville at the Homer-Center 13-yard line, but the Wildcats stood their ground, and Matt McAdoo came up with a diving interception of Rydbom at his own 5-yard line three plays later.
Homer-Center is seeking its first 6-0 start since 1994, the year the Wildcats won their last District 6 title. The last time Homer-Center won six straight games was 2010, when the Wildcats went 7-2 in the regular season, reeling off seven straight wins after an 0-2 start.
BALL HAWK: Blairsville’s Preston Brida recovered two more fumbles last week in the Bobcats’ 41-16 loss to Homer-Center, giving him four fumble recoveries in two games.
Homer-Center fumbled three times in the first half — twice on offense and once on a punt return — and Brida ended up on top of the ball on two of those occasions, including the muffed punt.
A week earlier, the 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior recovered two Northern Cambria fumbles on muffed punts in the Bobcats’ 24-19 win.
“I know that three of them have come on punts,” Blairsville coach Rick Artley said. “He’s our long snapper so he’s straight down the field. He’s the first one getting out. A lot of teams don’t bring enough to hold him in there to block. If they have seven guys up, we can cover that without him, and then he gets out. And in high school football, you can’t hit the center until he pops up, so a lot of times he’s the first one down the field.
“He’s not real big, and he’s not fast. He’s just a hard worker.”
AIRING IT OUT: Typically a run-first team, Saltsburg has been experiencing some success with its passing game in recent weeks.
The Trojans entered the season with a quarterback set to start for the third straight year, but five weeks into the season, he is not their leading passer. Junior Tyler Frassenei has been spending more time at running back and wide receiver, while freshman Frankie Plowman has been under center.
Plowman took over in the first quarter of Saltsburg’s first game after Frassenei left with a knee injury, and he has been a part of the offense ever since.
“We’ve been very fortunate in the past couple weeks to be able to put a little more (passing) into the playbook,” Saltsburg coach Tim Frassenei said. “Frankie has done a really nice job as a freshman stepping in.”
Plowman has completed 37 of 73 passes for 470 yards and ranks second in the Heritage Conference in completions and third in passing yards. He hit Tyler Frassenei for a 24-yard touchdown pass to set up the go-ahead two-point conversion in last week’s 14-13 win over United.
“Frankie delivered,” Tim Frassenei said. “It was the big time in a big moment, and he was able to put it on the money.”