Dragons, Knights go looking for third win
It’s Week 9 of the high school football season, and while all three Warren County schools are out of playoff contention, their still remains plenty to play for.
Warren and Eisenhower will both be looking for their third wins of the season, as the Dragons host Oil City for homecoming and the Knights travel to winless Saegertown.
Sheffield, meanwhile, will also be looking for its first win when they face fellow 0-8 team Cameron County.
Here we go.
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OIL CITY (2-6, 0-5) at
WARREN (2-6, 1-4)
The Dragons haven’t won a home game since Oct. 30, 2015 against Grove City and they will look to change that tonight.
“Our immediate goal is to get our seniors a win on their home field, they have not done this since their sophomore year,” Morelli said. “This was something we stressed on Monday and it seemed to set the tone for the week. I think our coaching staff just wants to see the team close out our season with our squad playing like they know how to. We have not been the most consistent team throughout the year so we’d like to close out strong.”
There could be a lot of points, as both teams are capable of moving the ball through the air and on the ground.
Dylin Chapin has completed 60-of-118 passes for 1,081 yards, while Christian Cole has rushed for 1,257 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground.
Chapin’s favorite target is Hunter Haun (24 catches, 494 yards, 8 touchdowns), with Caden Highfield (13 catches, 228 yards, 2 touchdowns) also in the mix.
“They are going to come at us with the dive option, the power toss and the iso, they like to get the ball into No. 12 Christian Cole’s hands,” Morelli said. “The have some size up front as well that we will have to contend with.”
Warren will counter with a strong rushing attack, with Andrew Egger and Mason Benjamin leading the charge up front for backs Noah Myers and Marvin Bryant. Myers has rushed for 1,170 yards and Bryant 613.
Jake Kupchella had thrown for over 800 yards through the air, with Kohl Nosel, Ryan Arnold and Mitchell Bryant his top targets.
“We have to get our running game going this week, last week we had no threat on the ground and were forced to throw as we fell behind early,” noted Morelli. “This is one area we have stressed we need a better effort, the offensive line has to step up and play to their capabilities.”
After falling to a playoff-bound Conneaut team on the road last week, the Dragons have had a good week of practice leading up to their first home game in over a month.
“Honestly, it’s been one of the better weeks we have had all year,” Morelli said. “We are encouraged by the focus and the effort this week.”
They will look to translate that strong week of practice into a solid performance in all three phases of the game tonight.
“Oil City and Warren are very close, and there’s not much separating the two teams,” Morelli said. “the team that wants it the most and commits the least amount of mistakes will win the game. Defensively, we have to contain the option game, we have to get off the line of scrimmage better than last week and our efforts pursuing and flowing to the ball have to be more persistent. We cannot let Oil City hang around. Offensively, it is not a secret, we want to run the ball, this sets up Jake Kupchella and our passing game and enables us to do more with our play calling.”
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EISENHOWER (2-6, 1-4 Region 3) at SAEGERTOWN (0-8, 0-5)
Eisenhower ended its home season with a 52-0 drubbing of Region 2’s Mercer last week. Now, the Knights hit the road to finish out the Region 3 schedule at Saegertown tonight.
The Panthers are winless on the season and should provide Eisenhower with another opportunity to claim a convincing win. Saegertown has been outscored this season 468-84.
Eisenhower was dominant in all three phases a week ago, with the offense racking up 294 rushing yards, the defense limiting Mercer to just 114 total yards (and scoring a touchdown) and the special teams units giving the offense short fields to work with.
The offensive outburst was more impressive considering the number of new players and players in new positions along the offensive line.
“Our line did a great job,” Penley said following last week’s game. “Colby Hagg was in there starting as a freshman, we had a couple other guys in there, first-time starters who did a really good job. At the end of the day, if the line wins, then you win the game and that’s what happened. (Jeramy) Card at center, first time starting at center. Hopefully we see more of that the last couple weeks, and because they are underclassmen, that’s something to build on.”
The youth infusion will continue this week, Penley said, as the Knights keep an eye on the future while still focusing on ending the season strong.
That focus now turns to stopping a Panther attack led by running back Shane McClinton (117 carries, 476 yards, 4 touchdowns) and quarterback Tariq Burnes (13/36, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns, 4 interceptions passing and 40 carries for 172 yards on the ground) and looking to end an 18-game losing streak.
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SHEFFIELD (0-8, 0-4 AML North) at CAMERON COUNTY (0-8, 0-4)
For the second time this season, Sheffield will look for its first win of the season on the road against an opponent trying to do the same.
In the first matchup, the Wolverines dropped a 20-7 decision to Port Allegany. Last week, Sheffield was doubled-up by Smethport, 28-14. The Red Raiders, meanwhile have lost nine straight and are in the midst of a 3-23 funk over the last three seasons. Cameron County came close to picking up its first win against Port Allegany last week, but the Gators stopped the Raiders’ two-point conversion attempt, then got a touchdown and extra point to secure the 27-26 overtime win.
Both teams may have received their biggest win earlier this week when District 9 announced the Allegheny Mountain League and Keystone Shortway Athletic Conference will merge to form a single District IX Football League Association next season. The new league will likely mean these, soon to be former, AML North teams will no longer have to open the season with four games against the far stronger South division.
“It’s exciting,” Sheffield coach Dave Fitch said. “Overall, I think we’re going to see a more competitive league and games from start to finish.”
First, however, the teams must finish out the 2017 season. Sheffield will need to stop quarterback Adam Streich (197 total yards and two touchdowns last week) if they hope to end their own 8-game losing streak.