If you want to catch any of the county's four football teams in action this week, you'd better be prepared to travel. All four teams will play at least one hour from county lines and one - Youngsville - will travel outside the state altogether.
While the playoffs seem to be a possibility for only one of the county clubs, there are still plenty of wins to be had as the 2010 season winds down.
Times Observer photo by Mitch Wilston
Sheffield’s George Fitch (80) skies high for a pass while being covered by a pair of Port Allegany defenders during Saturday’s football game at Sheffield High School. The Gators overpowered the Wolverines in a 50-6 decision.
Times Observer photo by Mitch Wilston
‘A’ for effort
The “Flannel Panel” Warren student section orchestrated a White Out at last Friday’s War Memorial finale against Bradford, which included fans of all ages. Warren — at 6-1 overall — preps for the District 10 Class AAA playoffs with three road games to end the regular season, starting at Central Tech at Veterans Stadium Friday in Erie.
Warren (6-1) at Central Tech (1-6), 7 p.m., Friday, Erie Veterans Stadium
For the first time all season, the Warren Dragons head into a football game trying to rebound from a loss.
While the Dragons saw their chance of an undefeated season end with a 28-0 loss to Bradford last week, coach Brad Wright has spent the week trying to push the fact that the loss is something that the Dragons can build on.
"The loss is definitely something we can build on," said Wright. "It further emphasizes that it takes a total team effort for four quarters and that everyone involved needs to be on the same page in terms of their individual responsibilities as players and coaches."
While Warren's chances for a Region 6 title were wounded last week, they certainly haven't completely gone up in smoke. However, in order to seriously threaten, the Dragons must win each of their next two games.
First up - Central Tech.
The Falcons have encountered another season of struggles in 2010, compiling a 1-6 record along the way. One positive that has come in the season's first seven weeks was Central's 27-16 win over Seneca on October 8. The win snapped a 22-game losing streak for the Falcons' program.
Central Tech is coming off a 31-0 shutout loss against Strong Vincent last week. In that game, the Falcons were outgained by 333 yards and managed just 79 yards of total offense on 27 plays. All 27 plays the Falcons ran were running plays.
Leading the way on the ground were a trio of runners who all finished with 23 yards apiece, including Noel Ruiz, Paul Kafando and Manny Holmes. All told, only four players from the Falcons' roster, touched the ball in the week seven loss.
Last meeting: October 31, 2003- at War Memorial Field- Warren 27, Central Tech 0
2010 Dragons leaders: Passing- Matt Stapleford 48 of 79 for 657 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT; Rushing- Rex Graham 78 carries for 514 yards, 7 TD; Receiving- T.J. Latimer 24 catches for 269 yards, 3 TD
Youngsville (2-5) at Pymatuning Valley (4-4), 7 p.m., Friday, Pymatuning Valley High School
Your eyes aren't deceiving you. That's Pymatuning Valley on the Eagles' week eight schedule.
The Eagles enter week eight having turned their season around after an 0-5 start. Two weeks ago, the Eagles beat Eisenhower in the Backyard Brawl and the momentum carried over into a 39-22 upset win over Cambridge Springs last Friday.
Now, in order to stay hot, the Eagles must cross the border into the town of Andover, Ohio and knock off the Pymatuning Valley Lakers - a team that coach Tony Tridico admittedly knows little about.
"We do not know a lot about Pymatuning Valley other than from the films we traded (with them)," said Tridico. "It will be a challenge in a different venue, but I think our kids are ready to play. (They are) excited to travel to Ohio."
The Lakers enter the contest with an even record of 4-4. PV started the campaign by winning three of four outings but has cooled in recent weeks dropping three out of its last four. That cold stretch includes a 41-7 loss to Grand Valley a week ago.
The Lakers' Josh Kirby is among the rushing and scoring leaders in the Andover area. He has scored six touchdowns this season and carried for 373 yards on the ground. Kirby certainly doesn't have to do it alone as teammates Nick Marshall (242), Quintin Ratliff (228) and Kurtis Marsh (202) have all amassed 200 yards or more in the 2010 season. Ratliff leads the Andover area with an 8.4 yards per carry average.
PV quarterback Josh Adkins has 220 yards through the air this season and his favorite target to date has been wideout A.J. Kovach who he has hooked up with eight times.
Last meeting: First meeting
2010 Eagles leaders: Passing- Rocco Gatta 11 of 41 for 146 yards, TD, 2 INT; Rushing- Sam Lucas 84 carries for 476 yards, 3 TD; Receiving- T.J. Hardy 3 catches for 29 yards
Eisenhower (0-7) at Cochranton (0-7), 7 p.m., Friday, Cochranton High School
While the Eisenhower Knights won't look back on 2010 as one of the more successful seasons in program history, it may be a year that paves the way for success in the near future.
Only time will tell.
In the mean time, the Knights can erase seven weeks of misery with a win over the winless Cochranton Cardinals Friday at Cochranton High School. While playoffs are certainly out of the question, Knights' coach Jim Penley knows his team has a lot to gain by playing well down the stretch.
"We just have to try and play better run defense and make some plays on offense early in the game," said Penley. "We have come a long way, but we know we can get better and know we need to try and pick up a couple of wins down the stretch."
Friday may be their best chance of victory yet as they encounter the 0-7 Cardinals - a team that knows all too well what Ike has gone through this season.
Three times this season, the Cardinals have allowed over 54 points, including a season-high 67 points allowed against undefeated Mercyhurst Prep last week.
On the flip side, the Cardinals -like Ike - have also seen their share of close losses, including a 24-22 loss to Cambridge Springs in week two, a 23-14 defeat to Maplewood in week five and a 23-18 loss to Iroquois in week six.
The team's leading ground rusher in 2010 has been Austin Andrews who has gained 286 yards on 47 carries with three touchdowns. Andrews and teammate Jeff Hawley (219 yards, one TD) do most of the carrying for Cochranton.
While anything but deadly, quarterback Chad Eisenhooth can throw the ball, completing 38 passes for 529 yards with five touchdowns in seven games this season.
Last meeting: October 30, 2009- at Cochranton High School- Eisenhower 41, Cochranton 0
2010 Knights leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 18 of 48 for 210 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT; Rushing- John Pascuzzi 108 carries for 564 yards, 4 TD; Receiving- John Pascuzzi 5 catches for 72 yards
Sheffield (1-6) at Smethport (2-5), 7 p.m., Friday, Smethport High School
Last season, Sheffield used a victory over Smethport to help turn its season around.
In 2010, the Wolverines are hoping for a repeat performance.
Doing so won't be easy as the Hubbers - despite their 2-5 record - have played much improved in recent outings. That fact is not lost on Wolverines coach Bryan Gould who knows his team will have to play better than it has in the past couple of games to knock off Smethport.
"Smethport has played pretty good defense all season against some good AML teams," said Gould. "They have a pretty solid offense in which they move the football very well on the ground without many turnovers. That is what has killed us in the past few weeks. We have to do a better job of protecting the football."
Up until last week, Smethport's season looked a lot like Sheffield's. The Hubbers only win in the first six weeks was a shutout win over Ridgway in week two. However, in week seven, Smethport shocked the District 9 football world with a 40-16 thumping of heavily favored Coudersport (3-4).
In that game, the Hubbers rode the legs of Ryan Wells who rushed 24 times for 274 yards in the win. If the 274 yards wasn't enough, Wells crossed into the endzone five times almost single handedly lifting Smethport to a win over its heated rival.
The five scores were the first of Wells' season and the senior standout now has 577 yards on the year.
Last meeting: October 17, 2009- at Sheffield High School- Sheffield 18, Smethport 7
2010 Wolverines leaders: Passing- Ike Nearing 40 of 109 for 763 yards, 3 TD, 12 INT; Rushing- Kalil Slaughter 67 carries for 478 yards, 3 TD; Receiving- George Fitch 15 catches for 293 yards, TD