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Connellsville hopes to maintain momentum against Seneca Valley

| Thursday, Sept. 20, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
Darrell Ross and the Connellsville offense will look to sustain long drives this week against Seneca Valley. Evan R. Sanders/Daily Courier

With a huge Quad East Conference victory under its belt, Connellsville will play its only nonconference game of the season when it visits Seneca Valley on Friday.

The Falcons will enter the game feeling good after defeating Hempfield, 14-10 in a critical game last week.

“We were behind the whole game, and we kept trying to make plays,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said.

“It's like a child that makes mistakes, and then eventually they learn from those mistakes and start to mature. The things we have been working on started to come to fruition, and we finally made some plays to get over the top.”

The win helps Connellsville remain a major part of the conversation when looking at potential playoff teams coming out of the Quad East.

“To be 0-3 in the conference would be tough to overcome,” McDonald said. “We put ourselves in the hunt. It still depends on how we play on Friday nights, but it was a big win.”

This week, the challenge will be for the Falcons (1-2) to build on that win over a strong Seneca Valley squad, ranked seventh in the latest Trib Total Media rankings.

“We're playing a very good opponent,” McDonald said. “They will be the second-best team (next to Gateway) that we play, by far. I think top to bottom, Gateway is probably better, but Seneca Valley has a Division I quarterback (in Jordan Brown) and a Division I running back (in Forrest Barnes). They're probably not as fast as Gateway, but they may be more physical.”

The Raiders (2-1) were beaten by North Allegheny, 45-3, last week, but McDonald noted that the score was not indicative of the game.

“We're playing a great team, and we're looking to see where we have improved from Week 1 to Week 4,” McDonald said. “I think playing Gateway will help us against Seneca Valley. I think our kids will have a better understanding of what to expect.”

McDonald is hoping that playing powerhouse teams such as Gateway and Seneca Valley in the first half of the season will get the Falcons ready for what should be an exciting second half.

“We feel that these first four weeks will prepare us for the last five weeks,” McDonald said.

In last week's win against Hempfield, Connellsville's defense made a number of big plays, and the offense pieced together several long scoring drives. The first was an eight-play march that resulted in quarterback Jade Maher finding Darrell Ross for a 28-yard score. The second was a game-winning 12-play drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a Maher 45-yard pass to Jimmy DeMarco.

For the Falcons to win this week, long drives on offense and game-changing plays on defense again will be the order of the day.

“We have to play really good defense and have some long, sustained offensive drives,” McDonald said. “They are an explosive offense, so we have to keep the ball away from them.”

Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jblack@tribweb.com or 724-626-3534.

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