Gas is expensive, but if you want to see some local high school football action this weekend, you're going to have to pony up.
All four teams - Warren, Sheffield and Youngsville on Friday, and Eisenhower on Saturday - will hit the road for region gridiron matchups in week four. Both the Wolverines and Eagles will visit winless opponents while the Knights and Dragons prepare to square off with foes with District 10 playoff aspirations.
The county teams hope to build off the momentum of a strong third week of the season in which they compiled an impressive 3-1 mark.
Times Observer photo by Tyson Himes
Chasing a win
Sheffield’s Nate Charlton (79) chases after the Ridgway quarterback on Saturday at Sheffield High School. The Wolverines seek their first win at 7 p.m. Friday at Johnsonburg.
Warren (1-2) at Strong Vincent (2-1), at Erie Veterans Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
Warren rebounded from a difficult 0-2 start with an improved offensive, defensive and special teams effort in a win over Fort LeBoeuf.
Quarterback Austin Jerman had a big week, completing 13 of 20 passes for 160 yards with two touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown. Chris McNeal paced the ground attack with 96 yards on 12 carries and Nathan Zigler - wearing the number of late friend and former Dragon Tyler Stufflebeam - caught five balls for 57 yards and two scores.
On defense, the Dragons held the Bisons to a season-low in yardage. Jordan Willetts led the special teams with an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"It was nice to get a big win (last week) and it really lifted a weight off our shoulders after such a dismal start," said Warren coach Brad Wright. "This week's game with (Vincent) really comes down to containing their (quarterback) Denzel Jones. We need to limit his chances and it'd be nice if we could sustain some drives and eat some clock to keep him off the field."
Strong Vincent suffered its first setback in week three, losing to powerhouse Cathedral Prep, 48-18. Against a tough front seven of the Ramblers, the Colonels recorded 307 yards on the ground with quarterback Denzel Jones responsible for 126 of those. He was also 6-of-10 for 90 yards and a score.
While the final score looks lopsided, Strong Vincent actually trailed by only three entering the final quarter before Cathedral Prep exploded for 27 unanswered points.
Last meeting: September 24, 2010- at War Memorial Field- Warren 34, Strong Vincent 31
2011 Dragons Leaders: Passing- Austin Jerman 29 of 56 for 431 yards, 4 TD, 3 INT; Rushing- Chris McNeal 20 carries for 109 yards, TD; Receiving- Mark Davis 10 catches for 174 yards, TD
Sheffield (0-3) at Johnsonburg (0-3), at Johnsonburg High School, Friday, 7 p.m.
While the results have improved each week, the Sheffield Wolverines are still looking for their first win after a 16-0 loss to Ridgway on Saturday. The team had several scoring opportunities in the most recent loss, but were unable to capitalize on them.
Nick Bonavita led a breakout game for the Wolverines running attack with 75 yards on 15 carries. Bonavita will likely be called on to repeat his performance this week as standout tailback Kalil Slaughter remains sidelined.
"Everybody from the coaches to the players to our ball boy Tanner is disappointed about how our season has started," said Sheffield coach Bryan Gould. "This week is crucial in getting it turned around because next week we start our divisional games in the AML North."
Johnsonburg remained winless in 2011 after a 26-13 week three loss to Otto-Eldred. The Rams played hard, but struggled to rebound from an emotionally draining 22-20, double OT loss to Cameron County in week two.
The loss against Otto was highlighted by the play of quarterback Quinn Luhr. Luhr tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Frank Kojancic for one score and a 10-yard pass to Kyle Sheldon for the other. Kojancic ended with six catches for 78 yards and a score.
Last meeting: September 25, 2010- at Sheffield High School- Johnsonburg 48, Sheffield 0
2011 Wolverines Leaders (2 of 3 games): Passing- Shequan Wright 11 of 35 for 150 yards, 5 INT; Rushing- Nick Bonavita 15 carries for 75 yards; Receiving- Evan Jamison 7 catches for 106 yards
Youngsville (3-0) at Iroquois (0-3), at Iroquois High School, Friday, 7 p.m.
Youngsville will try to match its best start in six years Friday when it visits Lawrence Park to play the winless Iroquois Braves. The undefeated Eagles rolled over Maplewood in week three, 40-6, thanks to a huge night from quarterback Cory Craig and a potent offensive attack that saw four skill position players score at least two touchdowns.
After a slow start to the year, Craig broke through with an 8-of-10 passing performance for 124 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed 11 times for a team-high 83 yards. Dalton Maze caught two of Craig's four scores and Sam Lucas and Rocco Gatta scored one rushing and one receiving touchdown each.
"The offense really came to life last week, but I still think there are some things we can clean up," said Eagles coach Luke Alex. "Really our defense has been a big key to the offense this season because of the momentum we get with a three and out or a big stop. It's takes stress off the quarterback, our backs and our entire offense."
Iroquois fell to 0-3 after a tight two-point loss to resurgent Eisenhower. The Braves chewed up 257 yards of rushing against the Knights, but had two key interceptions hurt their cause in a close game.
One bright spot for the Braves was the play of standout running back Parrish Brown. The D-10 speedster carried 13 times for 151 yards and two scores in the week three loss. Brown's touchdowns runs were of 64 and 65 yards.
Last meeting: September 24, 2010- at Mike Shine Field- Iroquois 14, Youngsville 0
2011 Eagles Leaders: Passing- Cory Craig 11 of 26 for 222 yards, 4 TD; Rushing- Sam Lucas 21 carries for 153 yards, TD; Receiving- Dalton Maze 5 catches for 160 yards, 2 TD
Eisenhower (2-1) at Mercyhurst Prep (3-0), at Erie Veterans Stadium, Saturday, 1 p.m.
It looks like Eisenhower learned a lot from last year's 0-10 season. The Knights have certainly grown up in 2011 and won their second straight nailbiter last week - a 21-19 victory over Iroquois.
With 2010 leading rusher John Pascuzzi again sidelined, sophomore Robbie Wilston had the best game of his brief career in the win. Wilston carried 20 times for 103 yards and teammates Trevor Spicer and Logan Head added 62 and 43 yards respectively. The 272-yard rushing attack also included a pair of scoring runs from quarterback Aaron Lundmark.
Week four offers the Knights their toughest challenge yet as they travel to Erie for an afternoon game with the Mercyhurst Prep Lakers.
"(The Lakers) are a tremendous, state-ranked team," said Ike coach Jim Penley. "They are stronger, bigger and faster than most of their opponents. That is why the game is always so tough. If you make one mistake, they will make you pay."
The Lakers have rolled to a 3-0 start and are tied atop the Region 2 standings with Youngsville and these Knights. Mercyhurst Prep's most recent victory was a lopsided 67-24 win over Cambridge Springs a week ago.
In that game, the Lakers rushed 44 times for 444 yards and had three different ball carriers rush for over 100 yards. Cornelious Barclay carried 18 times for 157 yards, Thomas Higgins had 125 yards on 13 totes and Dwayne Canaday had nine carries for 105 yards.
Last meeting: September 24, 2010- at Eisenhower High School- Mercyhurst Prep 52, Eisenhower 7
2011 Knights Leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 3 of 7 for 24 yards, INT; Rushing- Robbie Wilston 48 carries for 186 yards; Receiving- Richard Knisley 1 catch for 14 yards