The season may be winding down, but the intrigue remains as the final week of the regular season approaches.
All four county teams will be in action on Friday with three of those teams competing within the county limits.
Eisenhower and Warren - both 7-2 - will use their non-region contests as final tune-ups for the District 10 football playoffs that get underway next Friday. The other two clubs - Sheffield (2-7) and Youngsville (1-8) - will try to finish difficult seasons on a high note when they clash at Mike Shine Field.
Titusville (3-6) at Warren (7-2), 7 p.m., Friday,
War Memorial Field
Fresh off a 64-8 dismantling of Franklin a week ago, Warren looks like a team ready for the District 10 Class AAA playoffs.
In that game, standout quarterback Austin Jerman became the school's all-time leading passer with 3,815 career yards. He needs just 185 additional yards to be the first Dragon signal caller to reach the 4,000-yard mark.
The Dragons will try to keep that momentum rolling Friday at War Memorial Field when the Titusville Rockets pay a visit. The Rockets and Dragons were heavy rivals when the teams were both Class AAA. In recent seasons, Titusville has played at the Class AA level.
Still, Warren coach Brad Wright knows there is a lot to be gained by performing well Friday in the team's last outing before postseason play.
"We're not the kind of team to lie back," said Wright. "We're going to play our best 11 guys and not be resting anybody (Friday). It's important to execute well and be playing at a high level when the playoffs get underway."
The Rockets are 3-6 this season, but have struggled to move the ball effectively through the air. Titusville quarterbacks have thrown for over 800 yards this season, but have been picked off 12 times while tossing just two touchdowns.
Senior Xavier DeRose is the main threat on the ground with 576 yards and 11 touchdowns. Junior Ehrin Lee has added 473 yards and seven scores and current QB Jayce Corklin has 355 yards and two touchdowns. DeRose and teammate Sam Bodamer are the Rockets' biggest defensive threats.
Last meeting: September 8, 2011- at Titusville Area High School- Titusville 19, Warren 5
2012 Dragons Leaders: Passing- Austin Jerman 109 of 172 for 1,519, 21 TD, 6 INT; Rushing- Austin Jerman 90 for 609, 6 TD; Receiving- Jordan Willetts 30 for 416, 9 TD
Eisenhower (7-2) at Cameron County (2-7), 7 p.m., Friday, Cameron County High School
The Region 2 champion Eisenhower Knights enter week 10 with a former Allegheny Mountain League foe on the schedule in the Cameron County Red Raiders.
It's been a record-setting year for the Knights and that trend continued last week against Youngsville with a school record for points in a game (67), rushing yards in a game (611) and total yards in a game (615). This week, standout tailback John Pascuzzi finds himself just 211 yards from becoming the school's single season rushing leader and needing 125 yards to become the school's all-time leading rusher.
While the Knights are locked into the top seed out of Region 2 for next week's D-10 Class A playoff opener, Ike coach Jim Penley says the team has plenty to play for in week 10.
"We have to be sharp - bottom line," said Penley. "If we don't play sharp going into the postseason, it makes things that much tougher on ourselves. We've had the luxury of playing a lot of guys these past few weeks, but now it's time to figure out who our best 11 are and who's going to be on the field for us when the playoffs begin."
The Red Raiders have struggled through a 2-7 campaign despite strong ground game efforts from both Antonio Johnson and Tony Olivett. The pair combined for well over 100 yards on the ground during a 13-12 loss to Sheffield earlier this season.
As a whole, Cameron County's offense has struggled to score points this season. Through nine weeks, the Red Raiders have 85 points - less than 10 points per game. The team has been shut out in two of its last three outings. However, the one non-shutout came last week during a 14-13 victory over Johnsonburg - the team's second victory of 2012.
Last meeting: October 24, 2003- at Eisenhower High School- Eisenhower 23, Cameron County 7
2012 Knights Leaders: Passing- Aaron Lundmark 50 of 103 for 879, 12 TD, 6 INT; Rushing- John Pascuzzi 173 for 1,376, 14 TD; Receiving- Nathan O'Brien 24 for 530, 8 TD
Sheffield (2-7) at Youngsville (1-8), 7 p.m., Friday, Mike Shine Field
Nothing would make county clubs Sheffield and Youngsville happier than to close out disappointing 2012 seasons with a victory.
That scenario will play out for one of the schools Friday at Mike Shine Field when the Eagles and Wolverines clash for the first time in three years.
The last meeting between the clubs was a thriller with the Eagles erasing a 13-point second half deficit and using a late touchdown to win, 17-16. A victory would mean a lot to Eagles coach Luke Alex and his team who has struggled to a 1-8 mark just one season after winning a Region 2 title.
"I think it would be huge to end the season with a win," said Alex. "This group of seniors is one of the winningest group in the history of the school and it would be great to send them out with a victory. A win would also serve to build some momentum for next season."
The Eagles will need to rely heavily on senior Rocco Gatta and sophomore quarterback Jake Lauffenburger to win for the second time in 2012. Gatta stepped up big in last week's 67-26 loss to Eisenhower, finishing with 132 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns - three rushing and one receiving. Gatta's 507 rushing yards on the season are a team-high - just ahead of Lauffenburger who has continued to mature as the Eagles' leader under center.
The Wolverines have lost four games in a row while falling to 2-7 on the season. Sheffield did put up 28 points in last week's game against Curwensville, but suffered defeat after allowing 50 points.
Like Alex, Sheffield coach Dave Fitch thinks a win to close the season would be big for the future of the program.
"Obviously a win in the last game of the season helps give the momentum needed to start next season on the right foot," said Fitch. "We've had some bad games as of late and the defining moment for a program is showing whether or not you can bounce back and finish strong. That's our goal this week."
Wolverines quarterback Shequan Wright needs just 33 passing yards to eclipse 1,000 on the year. Wright has thrown seven touchdown passes and will have leading receiver Tyler Fitzgerald (17 catches for 270 yards, 3 TD) running routes on Friday.
Wright and teammate Brandon Johnston are also in the running for team rushing leader. Wright holds a 225-222 advantage heading into the final game of the season.
Last meeting: November 6, 2009- at Mike Shine Field- Youngsville 17, Sheffield 16
2012 Wolverines Leaders: Passing- Shequan Wright 55 of 150 for 967, 7 TD, 9 INT; Rushing- Brandon Johnston 73 for 225, TD; Receiving- Tyler Fitzgerald 17 for 270, 3 TD
2012 Eagles Leaders: Passing- Jake Lauffenburger 41 of 83 for 595, 5 TD, 8 INT; Rushing- Rocco Gatta 89 for 507, 4 TD; Receiving- T.J. Hardy 11 for 260, 2 TD