It was a win-some, lose-some kind of Week 3 for the county high school football teams.
Eisenhower and Warren stormed over region competition, adding wins to their totals with convincing triumphs. On the flipside, both Sheffield and Youngsville struggled to find their footing in losses to Brockway and Cambridge Springs, respectively.
Week 4 features three home games and just one road contest. Perhaps the biggest games of the week are at Warren's War Memorial Field and Ike's "Pasture of Pain." The Dragons look for a 4-0 start against Meadville while the Knights try to take control of the Region 2 standings, hosting Mercyhurst Prep.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
Sheffield cheerleaders, including Kameron Orinko, forefront, welcome the Wolverines on to the field for their home opener Sept. 8 at Wolverine Mountain at Sheffield High School. Sheffield hosts Cameron County at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in one of three home high school football games this week in Warren County.
Meadville (2-1) at Warren (3-0), 7 p.m., Friday,
War Memorial Field
Despite early-season victories over Erie East and Clarion-Limestone, the Warren Dragons football team still had some questions heading into the third week of the season after eight straight losses to Bradford over the years.
The doubters were silenced a week ago with the Dragons' impressive 47-6 Region 5 road victory over the Bradford Owls.
Warren welcomes Meadville to War Memorial Field for another important Region 5 contest.
While the scores say otherwise, Warren coach Brad Wright knows there are still areas his football team can improve.
"I think we need to be more consistent in our passing game," said Wright. "It hasn't been where we've had it in the past and we've really focused on that this week. Defensively, I'd like to see us continue doing what we've been doing. We need to continue tackling well and defend against the run."
The Bulldogs have won two of their first three games, earning a two-point win over Northwestern in week one and a 41-30 victory over Erie East a week ago. Sandwiched in between was a lopsided 42-7 loss to Slippery Rock.
The ground game - and in particular Ryan Harkness - is where the majority of Meadville's offensive success lies. Harkness has carried 52 times for 394 yards and three touchdowns through three weeks of the season. Harkness is also a presence on defense chipping in nine tackles a game.
Teammates Tim Bolden and Trevor Martin also have over 190 yards apiece entering Friday. Quarterback Tyler Minnis has yet to prove he's a threat through the air, attempting only nine passes combined through the first three contests.
Last meeting: September 11, 2009- at Meadville High School- Meadville 21, Warren 13
2012 Dragons Leaders: Passing- Austin Jerman 22 of 42 for 355 yards, 6 TD, INT; Rushing- Chris McNeal 29 for 213, 3 TD; Receiving- Luke Wortman 9 for 167, 2 TD
Mercyhurst Prep (3-0) at Eisenhower (2-1), 7 p.m., Friday, Eisenhower High School
Eisenhower hopes to model its 2012 season after Youngsville's 2011 campaign.
In 2011, Youngsville announced itself as Region 2 favorites with a 25-13 victory over Mercyhurst Prep on its home turf. After two straight dominating victories over Maplewood and Iroquois, Ike coach Jim Penley's Knights hope to make a similar statement Friday when the Lakers visit the "Pasture of Pain."
"The team is looking at this as a huge game, but that can be said for every game from here on out," said Penley. "We know we're going to have to stop the run. If we don't, it could turn into a situation like (Mercyhurst's) game with Cochranton last week where we score 35 or 40 points and lose the game. We need to be focused on defense and try to be a little creative on offense."
After losing to Class AAA Central Tech in the season opener, the Lakers have rebounded with two consecutive Region 2 victories. One of those happened without even taking the field as Mercyhurst picked up a week 2 forfeit victory over Union City.
One week ago, Mercyhurst Prep held off Cochranton, 41-34, in its stiffest region test to date.
If the Knights are going to provide the Lakers another test, they will have to shutout one of District 10's best runners in Cornelius Barclay.
Despite having just two games to show for, Barclay has already run for 422 yards and seven touchdowns. That includes an eye-popping 279 yards and six touchdowns last week against the Cardinals.
Signal-caller Nick Evanoff can throw the ball if Barclay is shut down, completing 10 of 18 passes early in the year.
Last meeting: September 24, 2011- at Mercyhurst Prep- Mercyhurst Prep 46, Eisenhower 14
2012 Knights Leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 14 of 33 for 353, 3 TD, INT; Rushing- John Pascuzzi 49 for 335, 5 TD; Receiving- Nathan O'Brien 8 for 293, 3 TD
Youngsville (1-2) at Maplewood (0-3), 7 p.m., Friday, Maplewood High School
It's been a while since the Youngsville football team has suffered back-to-back losses.
In order to avoid that happening on Friday, the Eagles will have to leave the field victorious after visiting the Maplewood Tigers in Region 2 football action.
A porous run defense spoiled the Eagles' Homecoming festivities in week three as Cambridge Springs' back Colton Noble chewed up 260 yards in the Blue Devils' 30-13 victory.
According to Eagles coach Luke Alex, the run defense will have to be better if his team is to improve to 2-2.
"Maplewood runs a little more of a spread offense so it will be a different look than we've had the last few weeks," said Alex. "Still, the run defense has to get better for us to be successful. We need to be tougher and we've worked on that this week."
The early part of 2012 has been a struggle for the Tigers. After being steamrolled by Eisenhower in the second week of the year, Maplewood was beat in week three by a Union City team that wasn't even able to take the field a week prior.
Still, the Tigers feature plenty of weapons. The running game relies heavily on the talents of Ethan Moody. Moody had 150 yards rushing against the Knights and has 245 to this point in the season. Quarterback Nate Klingler isn't shy about passing with 45 pass attempts, including a season-high 19 each of the past two weeks.
Klingler's favorite target has been Logan Battin who leads the team in both receptions and receiving yards with seven for 203.
Last meeting: September 16, 2011- at Mike Shine Field- Youngsville 40, Maplewood 6
2012 Eagles Leaders: Passing- Jake Lauffenburger 10 of 20 for 146, 2 TD, 2 INT; Rushing- Jordan Gurdak 35 for 255, 2 TD; Receiving- T.J. Hardy 6 for 124, 2 TD
Cameron County (0-3) at Sheffield (0-3), 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Sheffield Area High School
For the second straight season, Sheffield has started a football season 0-3.
However, Sheffield and first-year head coach Dave Fitch wouldn't mind if the 2012 season ended just the way the 2011 one did - in the District 9 Class A playoffs.
The Wolverines have an excellent opportunity to start a run Saturday when the winless Cameron County Red Raiders visit Wolverine Mountain.
Fitch hopes that his Wolverines can learn from the resiliency of last year's team and start a playoff push in week four.
"We've absolutely discussed the similarities between last year's team and this year's," said Fitch. "With our co-op, it takes us a couple weeks to mesh and come together as a unit. "As AML North play begins, I'm confident that our schemes and game plans are going to start coming together and we're going to perform with a greater amount of success."
Cameron County's season has started much like Sheffield's. While the Wolverines first three opponents currently hold an 8-1 record, the Red Raiders' first three opponents - Elk County Catholic, Curwensville and Brockway - are a perfect 9-0.
Cameron County features a trio of talented backs, any one of which could see the majority of carries on Saturday. Among those backs are Tucker Britton, Tony Olivett and Rusty Setzer.
Last meeting: October 28, 2011- at Cameron County- Sheffield 28, Cameron County 8
2012 Wolverines Leaders: Passing- Shequan Wright 20 of 67 for 302, 2 TD, 5 INT; Rushing- Brandon Johnston 13 for 36; Receiving- Dylan Reynolds 7 for 103