Elizabeth Forward no longer under the rader in game against West Mifflin
It is difficult to discern the difference between the Elizabeth Forward and West Mifflin football teams this season.
Sure, the Titans' offense may be a little more potent, but both are outstanding on that side of the ball and led by dual-threat quarterbacks. And the Warriors may have slightly better defensive numbers, but each force turnovers and are aggressive getting to the ball.
When all is said and done, as the two prepare to meet Friday at West Mifflin (5-0, 5-0), the only real difference between the two teams is 11 points. That's how many it would have taken for Elizabeth Forward (3-2, 3-2) to make this a matchup of undefeated teams.
Instead the Warriors lost to Trinity in their opener, 14-7, and dropped a 21-19 nail-biter to Thomas Jefferson on a missed two-point conversion and have since rebounded for their first three-game winning streak since opening the 2008 season 3-0 and are over .500 five games into a season for the first time in 13 years.
It may be one of the reasons Elizabeth Forward has, to this point, sailed just a bit under the radar.
“It's hard to speak for other people and what they think, but I knew we played very well in the first two games and obviously there's a feeling that we can do better and that's what we're working at,” Elizabeth Forward coach Mike LeDonne said. “But it's our second year in, the kids are understanding the offense and defense better and they have a full year of weight training. The kids got stronger and they're executing better.”
To say the improvement is dramatic would be an understatement. Elizabeth Forward has already won one more game as it had in the previous two seasons combined and, though part of it is coaching and the kids buying into the system, it helps to have an athletic quarterback like McKeesport transfer JaQuan Davidson – who was a student at West Mifflin as a freshman but did not play varsity football – running the spread-option offense as well as he has.
“I think they've really improved, their record shows it, they're playing teams really tough. And they picked up the Davidson kid at quarterback that's really making them go,” West Mifflin coach Ray Braszo said. “Playing against their spread, it kind of makes you move people around a little bit and put them in different positions and it changes your reads and you really have to shift your people into places where you wouldn't want to.”
Of course West Mifflin, which is averaging a Class AAA-best 47 points per game, knows a little bit about offense as well. Titans quarterback Derrick Fulmore is just as dangerous running as throwing and no team has been able to stop running back Jimmy Wheeler, who leads the WPIAL with 1,151 yards which averages out to 230.2 per game.
“We have our game plan ready to kind of slow the young man (Wheeler) down and obviously he's had a heck of a season to put up yards against everybody he's gone up against,” LeDonne said. “Hopefully, what we can do is do our keys well and get to the football. This is a great challenge for us as far as our defense is concerned and we've got to find a way to slow him down.”
Keith Barnes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-664-9161 Ext. 1977.
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.
- Big Bang ‘waves’ go poof under analysis
- Penguins notebook: Malkin could return Wednesday at Edmonton
- Jerome Bettis to be enshrined in hall of fame
- Local products Donald, Gronkowski garner AP NFL awards; Fitzgerald gets 1st Rooney honor
- Penguins minor league notebook: Rookie Wilson emerges as 3rd-line NHL prospect
- Tennessee quarterback Peterman considers transfer to Pitt
- Westmoreland museum spotlights artist John Kane’s late-in-life fame
- Voters opt for ‘Don’t Know’ in 2016 presidential race, Susquehanna poll finds
- Suggestions are aplenty on what Penguins need to break through
- Starkey: Pitt needs that James Robinson
- No more room on iPad? You’ll need to trim some of that fat