All three of Friday night's games are at home and, no matter which you choose to attend, you really can't go wrong.
You could attend War Memorial Field for the Route 6 rivalry between the Warren Dragons and Corry Beavers. Or you could visit the Pasture of Pain as the Eisenhower Knights look to lock up a District 10 Class A playoff berth against the Union City Bears.
But the big show? The main event?
Photo by Denny Kyser
Youngsville senior receiver Dalton Maze (8) runs for a touchdown in a 40-6 Region 2 win over Maplewood in the third week of the 2011 high school football season. At 9-0, Youngsville hosts Saegertown at 7 p.m. Friday at Mike Shine Field with the Region 2 title on the line. Senior Night festivities will be held before the game.
That would be at Mike Shine Field in Youngsville, where the Eagles look to complete the school's first undefeated regular season since 1966 and win the Region 2 title outright against second-place Saegertown.
It doesn't get much better than that.
Saegertown (6-3) at Youngsville (9-0), at Mike Shine Field, Friday, 7 p.m.
Ever since the Youngsville Eagles knocked off the Mercyhurst Prep Lakers, Friday night's game with Saegertown has been circled.
Finally - it's here.
Youngsville kept its focus through four possible "trap" games and heads into Friday looking to win the school's first outright Region 2 championship and secure the school's first undefeated regular season since 1966. The Eagles have already clinched at least a share of the Region 2 title ahead of one-loss teams Mercyhurst Prep and Saegertown and, because of a tiebreaker, will be the region's top seed when the playoffs get underway next week.
While the Eagles will be Region 2's top seed and a region champ regardless of Friday's outcome, Eagles coach Luke Alex knows the importance for his players to finish the regular season strong entering the playoffs.
"I think (an undefeated regular season) is important to them," he said. "It's important to the community, and I think the players feel that weight a little bit, but hopefully it eases (the closer we get to the game). The senior leadership is absolutely solid, and they aren't going to let that hurt our focus.
"Our season has been in one-game seasons all along. Every week is a one-game season, and our focus is solely on Saegertown," said Alex. "We have to stop their running game; their running game is powerful. Their offense is very powerful and we have to focus (on that)."
Youngsville clinched a share of the region title with a convincing 58-6 victory over Cochranton last Friday. All of the Eagles' offensive weapons were on display in the win as three backs topped 100 yards and the team posted season highs in yardage and points.
Sam Lucas is among the best backs in District 10, having amassed 688 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Quarterback Cory Craig has added 571 yards and eight scores and Jordan Gurdak has 486 yards and three touchdowns.
Through the air, Craig is 48-of-105 for 993 yards with 14 touchdowns and four picks. Half of those touchdown passes have gone to wideout Dalton Maze who has 526 yards on just 20 catches - over 26 yards per catch.
Before the 2011 Eagles attempt to complete a perfect regular season of their own, the 1965 and 1966 undefeated Eagles will be honored in a ceremony prior to kickoff.
Finishing the 10-0 regular season won't be easy as a determined and hungry Panthers team stands in the way. After starting the season 0-2 with losses to Imani Christian Academy and Union, the Panthers have won six of their last seven games. The only loss was a 27-26 overtime thriller against Mercyhurst Prep - a game in which Saegertown missed several opportunities to win going away.
If Saegertown can knock off the Eagles Friday, it would cause a three-way tie for the region title (assuming Mercyhurst Prep knocks off Iroquois). It would also provide the Panthers a boost before the D-10 Class A playoffs and the privilege of ending Youngsville's bid at a perfect regular season.
Saegertown's trio of backs - Brock Lojek, Casey Chapman and Matt Mondi - have combined for nearly 2,000 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns this season. A week ago in a 35-20 win over Eisenhower, Chapman led the way with 89 yards and two scores and Lojek added 67 yards and one score.
Quarterback Noah Marvin has attempted just 45 passes this year, completing 21 of them for 370 yards and five touchdowns.
2011 Eagles Leaders: Passing- Cory Craig 48 of 105 for 993 yards, 14 TD, 4 INT; Rushing- Sam Lucas 90 carries for 688 yards, 12 TD; Receiving- Dalton Maze 20 catches for 526 yards, 7 TD
Last meeting: November 5, 2011- at Saegertown High School- Saegertown 22, Youngsville 14
Union City (1-8) at Eisenhower (3-6), at Eisenhower High School, Friday, 7 p.m.
Eisenhower can possibly make the District 10 Class A playoffs if Iroquois defeats Cambridge Springs, and the Knights defeat Union City.
But Ike head coach Jim Penley said the Knights can't worry about Cambridge Springs.
"We know right now we still have a chance and last year at this time you'd have given anything to be sitting here saying we had a chance," said Penley, whose Knights are 3-6 overall after going 0-10 last year. "You're two plays - in the Lakeview and Cambridge Springs games -from being 5-4... I'm terribly proud of how our team, in general, has done. Our hope is we're going to finish it the right way."
The right way is being technically sound and having each player take care of his responsibilities; getting a total team effort rather than just one or two solid statistical efforts.
Eisenhower's turnaround has been impressive this season as the young Knights begin to grow up. A maturing offensive line has played well this season, allowing for strong games from tailbacks John Pascuzzi, Robbie Wilston, Trevor Spicer and Alex Johnson. Pascuzzi leads the team with 589 yards and four touchdowns despite playing in only six games this year.
Quarterback Aaron Lundmark had the best game of his career in last week's 35-20 loss to Saegertown, completing 9-of-17 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns. Leading receiver Nathan O'Brien had two of the touchdown grabs and Johnson had the other.
Union City's had a difficult season, entering Friday's game with a 1-8 record overall. The Bears' lone victory was a 32-14 win over Maplewood in week seven.
The Bears have been close in several other outings, dropping a 14-13 decision to Iroquois, a 27-13 setback to Lakeview and a 5-0 loss to undefeated Youngsville.
Penley said the Knights have done well stopping option offenses, and they have to continue that on Friday. Offensively, it starts up front, stopping Union City's aggressive rush.
Last week, the Bears struggled - as most teams do - against Mercyhurst Prep, in a 49-12 loss. They were held to 164 total yards and a single offensive touchdown - a 37-yard run by Tim Vargo. Kevin Lindsley added an 82-yard kickoff return for a score in the fourth quarter.
The Knights can finish in fourth place in Region 2 with a win and a Cambridge Springs loss on Friday. The teams are tied for fourth place in the region with 3-4 records, but Cambridge Springs won the head-to-head matchup, 12-7, earlier this season.
2011 Knights Leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 29 of 62 for 487 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT; Rushing- John Pascuzzi 80 carries for 589 yards, 4 TD; Receiving- Nathan O'Brien 16 catches for 206 yards, 2 TD
Last meeting: November 5, 2011- at Union City High School- Union City 31, Eisenhower 0
Corry (4-4) at Warren (2-7), at War Memorial Field, Friday, 7 p.m.
Warren's difficult 2011 season will come to an end Friday when the Corry Beavers visit War Memorial Field.
While the offense has shined this season, boasting the leading passer-receiver combo in District 10, the defense and the rushing game have been another story. The Dragons have allowed 50 points or more in five of nine games this year and the team's leading rusher - Chris McNeal - has 155 yards through nine games, an average of less than 20 yards per game.
Junior quarterback Austin Jerman leads District 10 with 1,854 passing yards and 18 touchdowns and senior receiver Nathan Zigler leads the district with 43 catches for 611 yards and five scores, but it hasn't been enough to turn the Dragons' season around.
"We've talked a lot about playing an inspired game for the seniors and sending them out on a good note," said Warren coach Brad Wright. "We're also talking about building some momentum for next year. It'd be nice to send a message to say, 'hey, we can compete with a playoff team,' and, yeah, they're a regional rival."
Corry has already qualified for the District 10 Class AAA playoffs as the fifth-place team out of Region 5. The year includes wins over Girard, Oil City, North East, Franklin and Titusville. It also includes blowout losses to DuBois (49-0), Meadville (55-21) and Grove City (77-0) and a close 21-12 loss to Slippery Rock.
The playoff field is not balanced in Class AAA between Regions 5 and 6 with five teams out of Region 5 and only three out of Region 6. But there are only two D-10 AAA teams with a chance to finish above .500 in Region 6. Warren is 2-7 overall, and Corry is 5-4 and will finish with at least a .500 record.
Tailback Matt Cragg controls the ground game with 524 yards and three scores on the year. Quarterback Nathaniel Smith can also take to the air with 72 completions for 1,115 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. He has been picked off 12 times. Cody Bailey and John Cragg are the wideout threats with 23 and 21 receptions respectively in 2011.
Wright said the key - again - is stopping the run, and forcing Corry's quarterbacks to throw. Cragg had three rushing touchdowns against Warren in a 41-6 victory in last-season's regular-season finale.
2011 Dragons Leaders: Passing- Austin Jerman 122 of 206 for 1,854 yards, 18 TD, 5 INT; Rushing- Chris McNeal 39 carries for 155 yards, 2 TD; Receiving- Nathan Zigler 43 catches for 611 yards, 5 TD
Last meeting: November 5, 2011- at Corry High School- Corry 41, Warren 6