Ford City, Kittanning understand each other's midseason plights
TribLIVE Sports Videos
On the surface, Kittanning and Ford City's football programs stand in stark contrast to each other.
A new and fairly young coaching staff leads the Wildcats, while Ford City's collection of coaches has barely changed in the past decade.
With their no-huddle spread offense, the Wildcats throw the ball without hesitation. The Sabers remain committed to their diversified but still run-oriented wing-T system.
And the Wildcats (2-3, 2-2) excel in the fourth quarter, during which they've outscored opponents, 55-13, through five weeks. Ford City (2-3, 1-3) has been outscored, 60-13, in the final quarter, yet its overall point differential (minus-8) isn't all that far from Kittanning's (11).
These are superficial differences, though. Here's the heart of the matter: Both teams dealt with some bad luck during the first half of the season, and both desperately desire to start a hot streak Friday night at Kittanning's David “Red” Ullom Field.
“I think Coach Bart mentioned it last week, but they very easily could be a 4-1 football team if a couple things go their way,” said Kittanning coach Frank Fabian, referring to Ford City's John Bartolovic. “In no way, shape or form do I think their record is a reflection of how good they are. And we're in the same boat as Ford City. A couple breaks here and there, and our record is a lot different.”
Playmakers' absences affected both teams the past couple weeks.
Notably for the Sabers, their leading rusher and receiver, senior Devan Willyard, missed last week's 20-14 loss to Summit Academy for personal reasons. A shoulder injury forced senior fullback and linebacker Ben Young to sit out the fourth quarter, during which Summit Academy rallied from a 14-0 deficit. And earlier in the fall, Ford City dealt with a flu bug.
Kittanning has operated with a depleted linebacker unit. Tyler Crissman and Nick Bowers missed last week's 56-35 loss to Burrell with injuries, and Zac Croyle (ankle) played at less than full strength. Safety/wide receiver Mitch Pirhalla missed the game for personal reasons.
Neither Bartolovic nor Fabian knows how close to full strength his team will be Friday. And neither is interested in excuses if key players remain sidelined.
Fabian has focused on what he can change, and he has extended that philosophy to the dark cloud that looms over Kittanning, the losing team in nine of the past 10 games between the Wildcats and Sabers.
“We can't control what happened in the past,” Fabian said. “I guess the past is where you leave it.”
His players have attempted to follow his lead.
“It's not brought up as much by the players as it is by the community, by everybody else,” lineman Colton Toy said. “Amongst the players, we don't really talk about it much. We know this is a different team, a different coaching staff.”
Bartolovic recently broke out a sheet of Ford City individual and team records and posted it in his office as a way to push his players to uphold tradition.
“We showed them past records and things that other teams have done — our records against Kittanning, what our level is and where we expect to be at,” Bartolovic said. “And anything less really isn't acceptable.”
Ford City's players met Bartolovic's gesture with understanding.
“We forget about last week and look forward to this week,” quarterback Dave Lattanzio said. “We never get down on ourselves. We always expect to win. That's just how we think about it at Ford City.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Artis leads Pitt to lopsided victory over Cornell
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Teen charged with firing shots in Wilkins, abducting woman
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says