It's time to hit the road for the final week of the 2013 high school football regular season.
Three of the four county teams are in action Friday night, and while Warren and Eisenhower wrap things up against Titusville and Cameron County, respectively, the game of the night will be in Kane where Sheffield hopes to claim its first Allegheny Mountain League title in school history.
With the Dragons, Knights, and Wolverines all headed for the postseason, Week 10 is a chance to finish strong and prepare to experience playoff football.
Times Observer photo by Ben Oviatt
The heat is on
Warren’s Josh Atkins (77), Jacoby Passmore (99), and Garrett Smead (42) chase down Franklin quarterback Kyle Ritchey during the Dragons’ win over the Knights last Friday at War Memorial Field. Warren will take on Titusville this Friday in a non-region game to finish out the regular season.
NOTE: Youngsville and Sheffield's game originally scheduled for Saturday, November 12, was canceled to make room for Sheffield's AML title game. After last week's loss to Eisenhower, Youngsville finishes its season with a record of 0-9.
Sheffield (5-4) at Kane (9-0), Kane High School, 7 p.m., Friday
Sheffield has one last road block in its way to making school history with an AML Championship-and it's a big one. Kane's next loss will be its first, as the AML South champion Wolves have rolled to a 9-0 record while outscoring opponents 340-112. Included in that total is a 34-6 win over the Wolverines in Week 1. Sheffield will have to do a better job this time around containing Kane's offensive attack of quarterback Kevin Cleer, running back John English, and receiver Jeff Kocjancic. English is approaching the 1,000-yard mark with 921 yards and 11 touchdowns on 139 carries, Cleer is 105-of-161 for 1,447 yards and 27 touchdowns to just three interceptions, and Kocjancic has hauled in 47 passes for 677 yards and 13 scores.
CORRECTION FROM PAPER: Eisenhower's final regular season game is at home on Friday, not an away game.
"As far as this week...if you can't get up for this game, there is something the matter with you!," said Sheffield coach Dave Fitch. "The kids should remember this for the rest of their lives and to be the first to play in the AML title game can never be taken from this group. We are going to approach this game like Smethport and that is to appreciate the opportunity you have earned. We did not back into (the Smethport game) and we had to go out and earn the win after a disappointing loss to Port Allegheny. Now coming off another tough loss, I expect our kids to perform and play a very good football game."
The Wolverines will look for another big-time performance from sophomore running back Jareke Jackson. Jackson has 780 yards and 12 touchdowns on 114 carries, while junior quarterback Adam Higby is 82-of-158 for 964 yards. Noah Heeter and Tommy Reeves are Higby's most used weapons with 31 and 20 catches, respectively.
"As a coach all you can ask for is your team to go out and play to their potential," said Fitch. "The best part is, we still have not played our best game yet and I believe in my kids and predict they will rise to the occasion. I am excited for our players, school, and community, and win or lose, I know everyone will still be very proud and supportive of this team."
While both teams have qualified for the District 9 playoffs in their respective classes (Kane is class AA), Friday's game will have a significant impact on seeding for the Wolverines. With a win, Sheffield will lock up the number two spot and home field advantage in the first round. Kane needs a win to ensure the top seed over Karns City out of the KSAC.
Week 1's meeting: Kane 34, Sheffield 6
Warren (6-3) at Titusville (1-8), Carter Field, 7 p.m., Friday
Warren wrapped up a spot in the District 10 Class AAA playoffs with last week's win over Franklin, and while General McLane waits in the distance, Week 10's focus is in Titusville. The Dragons' schedule concludes with a non-region game against a Rocket team that is coming off their first victory of the season last week against winless Saegertown. Titusville has been outscored 382-84 and have been shut out four times in nine games this year.
"This week's keys and goals will remain the same as they've been all year, and that is to win," said Warren coach Greg Latimer. "Titusville will come right at us with a nothing to lose attitude-similar to Franklin last week. "Our focus is on continual improvement and we're not looking past this weeks opponent. We're committed to becoming a better football team every week and never regress."
Junior quarterback D.J. Fehlman continues to lead the Warren offense with 88-of-155 completions for 1,596 yards and 24 touchdowns through the first nine games. Luke Wortman and Kyle Kulka have seen nearly equal carries out of the backfield, and wide receivers Ryan Shattuck and Tanner Stanz have combined for 46 catches, 931 yards, and 18 touchdowns.
Last year's meeting: Warren 35, Titusville 7
Cameron County (2-7) at Eisenhower (7-2), Eisenhower High School, 7 p.m., Friday
If the Knights were lacking motivation heading into their last home game before the District 10 playoffs, an 0-2 record against non-region opponents could provide the spark necessary to come away with a win Friday night. Ike has rolled through Region 2 opponents this year, but losses to Mercer and Conneaut-both out of Region 1-have blemished an otherwise perfect record. Cameron County is just 2-7 overall and 1-4 in District 9's AML North.
"Our focus comes from the fact that we have now been to the playoffs before," said Ike coach Jim Penley. "We know we need to be as sharp as possible going in, because it is a new one-game season in one week. The only way to get more games is to win, so we have prepared all week like this is a playoff game. We need to get into that mode of thinking."
Eisenhower's Alex Johnson became Warren County's first 1,000-yard rusher in 2013 during last week's win over Youngsville. The senior running back has put up 12 rushing touchdowns and is the team's second leading receiver after junior Jarrett Johnson. Senior quarterback Rob Wilston is 56-of-104 for 961 yards and 12 scores, and also has 496 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.
"This will sound crass, but we have not accomplished anything yet," added Penley. "At the end of the year we can look back and be proud of the three road games where we brawled to win the region, and for winning the region which is no small feat. But that was never our goal. Our goal all year is to beat a South team, and therefore compete for a District title. Not to tarnish what we have accomplished, but until we do that, we will not have accomplished what we wanted to accomplish."
Last year's meeting: Eisenhower 49, Cameron County 12