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Connellsville looking for fast start against unbeaten Hempfield

| Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, 12:11 a.m.
Connellsville quarterback Jade Maher will try to lead the Falcons to a win over Hempfield on Friday. (Evan R. Sanders | Daily Courier)

Although the Connellsville football team hasn't gotten off to a great start, coach Dave McDonald has plenty of reasons to be positive. McDonald, his staff and his team are in a building mode.

But it appears to be moving in the right direction.

“The more we play, the better we get,” McDonald said. “We just have to play more. I don't think we lack confidence.”

The Falcons (0-2, 0-2) got off to a slow start in a 46-16 loss to Gateway last week, but seemed to steady themselves after a rough first quarter.

This week, Connellsville will hope to avoid another slow start as it prepares for a big Quad East Conference showdown with visiting Hempfield (2-0, 2-0), a team that has earned two conference wins to start the season, including last week's 43-7 pasting of Latrobe.

“They are 2-0 and we're where we are, so it's an important game against an opponent we feel like we can be competitive with,” McDonald said. “If we do the things we need to do, it should be a great game on Friday night.”

The Spartans have talent on offense, including quarterback Ty George as well as running backs Joey DeFloria and DeLorian Day. DeFloria leads the team with 158 rushing yards and two scores.

“They move the ball really well and coach (Rich) Bowen has done a great job,” McDonald said. “They are good up front. DeFloria is a very good high school running back, and their quarterback has done a nice job. They've played well against McKeesport and Latrobe.”

While McDonald and his players are mindful of the abilities of the Spartans, the focus continues to be on how the team can continue to improve.

“We understand that it is a big game, but we talk about the importance of ourselves,” McDonald said. “We talk about the importance of doing a job to make the team successful. It's still a process.”

Offensively, Connellsville continues to develop the running and passing game.

The offensive line is still a work in progress with sophomores Dylan McCrae and Kevin Koontz starting.

Quarterback Jade Maher's numbers have been steady. In two games, he has completed eight passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns.

Last week, his target of choice was Michael Parlak, who caught a 23-yard touchdown pass. Maher also ran for a 41-yard touchdown.

While Connellsville's offense is capable of moving the ball, consistency has been a bit of a problem. The same holds true for the defense.

“Defensively, we have to play better as a unit,” said McDonald, citing a few breakdowns that have cost the Falcons some big plays which have contributed to the first two losses. “We haven't consistently put everything together with our front seven and our secondary. But they are a young unit that is playing better. Again, we just have to play more.”

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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