While Youngsville is looking like a lock for a District 10 playoff spot, it's becoming make-or-break time for the county's other three football teams.
Warren, Eisenhower and Sheffield are all 2-4 through six weeks of the season and are clinging to hopes of being included in the postseason picture. Wins or losses this week could go a long way in determining whether or not the Eagles will be the only county team playing into the second week of November.
Youngsville (6-0) at Cambridge Springs (2-4),
Times Observer photo by Tyson Himes
Sheffield’s Nick Bonavita
at Cambridge Springs High School, Friday, 7 p.m.
For the second straight week, Youngsville enters a game trying to avoid an emotional letdown after a big win. Last week, coming off a statement making victory over Mercyhurst Prep, the Eagles scored 28 first-quarter points in a 42-13 rout of Eisenhower in the Backyard Brawl.
While 28-0 after one quarter may be difficult to duplicate, Youngsville coach Luke Alex is looking for his team to come out with the same intensity during its week seven matchup at Cambridge Springs.
"A start like we had against Eisenhower would be huge," said Alex. "But above all, we just want to come out focused and treat each game like it's the biggest one of the season. Despite everything we've done this year, we still have somewhat of an underdog mentality and feel like a lot of people outside of the county don't expect us to do much."
A win over the Blue Devils would secure Youngsville's first District 10 playoff berth since 1994.
Cory Craig and Sam Lucas enter Friday's game with Cambridge Springs looking to duplicate impressive week six performances. Despite sitting out the second half, Craig was 6-of-8 for 208 yards with four touchdowns and Lucas compiled 191 all-purpose with two rushing touchdowns and two receiving touchdowns.
The Blue Devils enter Friday's game with a 2-4 mark, but are riding a two-game winning streak. Two weeks ago, Cambridge used a fourth-quarter score to nip Eisenhower 12-7 and last week, the Blue Devils downed Union City 26-12.
Weston Stafford was the key cog in the Cambridge Springs system against the Bears. Stafford rushed 19 times for 92 yards and two scores and he also hauled in a 53-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Shawn Reynolds. Stafford's younger brother - Quentin - closed out the win over Union City with a 45-yard interception return for a score.
2011 Eagles Leaders: Passing- Cory Craig 29 of 63 for 661 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT; Rushing- Cory Craig 70 carries for 366 yards, 4 TD; Receiving- Dalton Maze 10 catches for 261 yards, 4 TD
Last meeting: October 15, 2010- at Mike Shine Field- Youngsville 39, Cambridge Springs 22
Eisenhower (2-4) at Lakeview (2-4), at Lakeview High School, Friday, 7 p.m.
After a 2-1 start to the season, the Eisenhower Knights enter a non-region game at Lakeview looking to end a three-game skid. The most recent of those losses may have hurt the most - a 42-13 thrashing at the hands of rival Youngsville last week.
Despite trailing 42-0 at break, the Knights played well in the second half of the loss. Quarterback Aaron Lundmark finished 2-of-5 for 32 yards with a touchdown pass to Clayton Coffaro. John Pascuzzi led the running game with 83 yards on 12 carries and Alex Johnson added 57 yards on seven totes.
While the Knights have struggled in recent weeks, a District 10 Class A playoff berth remains very much possible. However, making that possibility a reality must start this weekend at the Sailors.
"Our biggest problem all year has been putting the ball in the endzone," said Ike coach Jim Penley. "We move the ball well and we shut people down on defense, but coming into these last four games - three of them region games we have to win to even think playoffs - we need to start putting the ball into endzone and converting redzone opportunities. That's the one thing we can do to help our chances tremendously."
Lakeview has had a season similar to the Knights. They are 2-4 and rely heavily on the ground game to move the ball down the field.
Blake Reddick carries the biggest load with 77 rushes for 493 yards and five touchdowns this season. Teammates Nate Kokoski (41 carries for 194 yards, 3 TD) and Zach VanDusen (21 carries for 159 yards, TD) are also involved in the run game.
2011 Knights Leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 15 of 34 for 215 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT; Rushing- John Pascuzzi 44 carries for 280 yards, 2 TD; Receiving- Nathan O'Brien 7 catches for 81 yards
Last meeting: October 15, 2010- at Eisenhower High School- Lakeview 48, Eisenhower 13
Warren (2-4) at Bradford (2-4), at Parkway Field, Friday, 7 p.m.
It's been a tough season for the young Warren Dragons football team.
That being said, the 2011 season hasn't been devoid of bright spots. One such bright spot was last week's 13-12 victory over Franklin. The win came in thrilling fashion when quarterback Austin Jerman tossed a 41-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Willetts with 9:23 left for the winning score.
Jerman returned from a week five injury to put together another solid passing performance. The junior finished 14-of-24 for 265 yards with two touchdowns. Jerman's favorite target was Nathan Zigler who finished with 10 catches for 194 yards and a score.
While the victory over Franklin was much needed, Warren coach Brad Wright knows what his team will have to do better to keep up with a talented Bradford club.
"We have to protect our quarterback better this week and I think we've developed some packages and schemes to get that done," said Wright. "Last week was a step in the right direction for us. We played a more complete game and made some sound adjustments at halftime which the kids came out and executed."
Bradford is still smarting from a 34-13 loss to Class AA General McLane last Friday. The team has struggled to repeat last year's success while trying to replace last year's leading rusher Pat Pascarella.
The biggest workload in the running game has fallen on tailback Josh Corignani. Last week, Corignani rushed for 73 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown.
2011 Dragons Leaders: Passing- Austin Jerman 68 of 120 for 1059 yards, 11 TD, 3 INT; Rushing- Chris McNeal 29 carries for 127 yards, 2 TD; Receiving- Nathan Zigler 25 catches for 372 yards, 4 TD
Last meeting: October 15, 2010- at War Memorial Field- Bradford 28, Warren 0
Sheffield (2-4) at Port Allegany (5-1), at Port Allegany High School, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Sheffield's 2011 season can be broken down into two parts - the first three weeks and the last three weeks.
In the first three weeks, Sheffield was 0-3 and scored a total of six points. In the past three weeks, Sheffield is 2-1 with a 40-0 win over Johnsonburg, a 42-0 win over Otto-Eldred and a 7-6 overtime loss to unbeaten Coudersport.
During the team's hot streak, they have found Nick Bonavita to be a threat from the backfield. Last week, Bonavita earned his way onto the District 9 Honor Roll with a 12-carry, 147-yard and two touchdown performance against Otto. Teammate Kalil Slaughter is also returning to form, having finished last week's win with seven carries for 110 yards and a 45-yard touchdown run.
According to Sheffield coach Bryan Gould, a variety of factors have gone into Sheffield's recent resurgence.
"First and foremost, our defense has been playing outstanding," said Gould. "We've given up just one touchdown in 13 quarters and that's a pretty amazing thing. Secondly, we're playing as a team. Offensively, we're making the blocks down field to spring big plays - something we knew we were capable of all along."
Port Allegany has been one of District 9's biggest surprises this year, starting the season with wins in five of six games. One major reason is quarterback Matt Bodamer who had a huge game during last week's 48-13 victory over Smethport.
Bodamer threw for six touchdowns and ran for a seventh in the Gators' most recent lopsided win. He finished 22-of-32 passing for 339 yards and tossed three of his scores to wideout Rickie Bova. Bova finished with three catches for 77 yards, Charlie Buchanan had six grabs for 110 yards and a score and Trevor Neal had three catches for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
2011 Wolverines Leaders: Passing- Shequan Wright 29 of 78 for 398 yards, 2 TD, 8 INT; Rushing- Nick Bonavita 71 carries for 429 yards, 4 TD; Receiving- Nick Bonavita 9 catches for 98 yards
Last meeting: October 16, 2011- at Sheffield High School- Port Allegany 50, Sheffield 6