Connellsville looks to regain confidence against Norwin
With one win through four weeks of the high school football season, the Connellsville Falcons aren't exactly where they had hoped to be, but they are definitely a team in the playoff hunt as the season approaches the halfway point.
And with games against Gateway and Seneca Valley in the rearview mirror, the Falcons (1-3, 1-2) now can look ahead in hopes of making a strong second-half push, beginning with Friday's Quad East Conference game at Norwin.
“If you look at the standings in our section, Penn-Trafford is 3-0 (in the section), but the rest of the teams we play are all one-win teams,” Connellsville coach Dave McDonald said. “We're playing teams the next five weeks where we could easily win every game or lose every game. The next five games will determine a lot.”
The Falcons have to be thankful that last week's 64-14 loss to Seneca Valley was a nonconference defeat that doesn't impact their conference standing — Connellsville is in the fifth and final playoff position in the Quad East.
“We picked a really bad week to play poor football,” McDonald said. “We moved the ball and Jade (Maher) was throwing well, but on defense, we decided not to tackle. Part of the hump we have to get over is that when we play elite teams, we have to have the confidence to play at that level. It's a lack of confidence and it is very obvious to me, but two years ago, every game was a Seneca Valley game. I've got to do a better job of instilling confidence.”
McDonald believes his team will play with a lot more swagger this week against the Knights (1-3, 1-3).
“I think our approach is going to be much better because the kids have confidence that they can compete with Norwin,” McDonald said.
Make no mistake, the Falcons aren't taking the Knights lightly.
Norwin lost its first three games, but the Knights are coming off a 27-14 win over Latrobe. Nick Amendola and Casey Rebosky each rushed for more than 100 yards in Norwin's first win of the season.
“Art (coach Tragesser) is doing a great job with them,” McDonald said. “Norwin is 1-3, but they could easily be 3-1. Turnovers have cost them. They are very aggressive on defense. Their linebackers bring pressure and they create problems. Offensively, they've moved the ball, but they have kind of shot themselves in the foot.”
Connellsville's offense has also been able to move the ball. Even in last week's lopsided loss, the Falcons' James Stevenson and Jordan McCrae each had touchdown runs. And while the defense struggled last week, there have been signs of improvement, especially in Connellsville's win over Hempfield in Week 3.
“We just have to put both (offense and defense) sides of the ball together,” McDonald said.
Jason Black is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-626-3534.