Statewide high school football notebook
The biggest game in District 10 is finally here. Cathedral Prep, ranked No. 1 in Class AAA, will host Class AAAA powerhouse McDowell Friday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Stadium.
Prep dropped down to Class AAA in 2008 and hasn't defeated McDowell since. The Trojans own a four-game winning streak, including a thrilling 25-20 win in Week 1 last year. The rivalry may be in danger with McDowell likely heading back to the WPIAL in 2014.
The Ramblers enters this year's game with the third highest-scoring offense in District 10 at 51.4 points per game and the top defense by allowing 8.2 points per game. Michigan State recruit Damion Terry has thrown for 1,327 yards and 19 touchdowns this season and is well on his way to catching Oil City graduate Mark Kulinski for the district career record of 6,045 yards.
McDowell counters with a triple-option offense that has no steady quarterback. Jarrett Koper, who broke his leg in the preseason, might be back in a few weeks at quarterback. Until then, McDowell has been using a combination of Sean Gallagher, Jake Tarasovitch and Jamie Szymczak under center.
District 1 and 12
• The Titans of Central Bucks South have established themselves as the front-runner in the Suburban One League's Continental Conference. Led by sophomore running back Josh Adams' four touchdowns, the Titans held off a determined Souderton squad 44-28. Adams surpassed the 1,000-yard mark while scoring his 21st touchdown of the season.
• Pennridge continues to play well, defeating Central Bucks West 28-21 on the road. Junior running back Mike Class' third score of the game sealed the victory. Class has 13 rushing touchdowns and 995 yards this season.
• People figured North Penn would feast on their Continental Conference foes early in league play. They were right. The Knights improved to 3-2 with their second consecutive 42-7 win, this time against outmanned Quakertown. North Penn running back Kyle Mayfield scored touchdowns on four straight possessions. He came within a holding call of being solely responsible for starting the mercy clock. Still, North Penn led 42-0 at the break. It could be interesting Friday when the Knights host unbeaten Central Bucks South and its high octane offense.
• Archbishop Wood kept Cardinal O'Hara's big-play offense under wraps on its way to an impressive 38-14 win. Feeding of the momentum provided by the defense's four-play goal line stand, the Vikings' offense never looked back on their way to an easy victory.
• Sophomore jack-of-all-trades Jimmy Herron caught an 80-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Kane, threw a 17-yard TD pass to fullback Jarrett Herrmann, and ran for another from 7 yards out, as La Salle toyed with Archbishop Ryan, 31-0, Saturday afternoon.
• Clearly, Old Forge running back Brian Tomasetti, who has scored 20 total touchdowns already this season, is getting a great deal of attention for the gaudy numbers he has put up during his team's impressive 5-0 start. And with the offense putting up 44.6 points per game to rank 21st out of 597 teams in the state according to e-pasports.com, the Blue Devils' stingy defense could be overlooked. It shouldn't.
Old Forge has given up seven points against traditional powerhouses Dunmore and Riverside in the last two weeks. Linebacker Jorden Sekol, a junior, leads the team with 40 tackles, three fumble recoveries and two sacks. Shane Schuback, also a junior, is second with 33 tackles and two fumble recoveries. Warren Welsh, a senior linebacker, has 21 tackles, followed by Jake Manetti and Anthony Piccolini, who both have 14 tackles. Then, of course, there is Tomasetti. He only has a team-high six interceptions, having returned three for touchdowns.
• Scranton's defense helped key a victory over Valley View by forcing and collecting six turnovers. Jim McNally had an interception and a fumble recovery to lead the unit. Karlon Quiller, Mike Condrad, Dylan Granahan and Jake McCarthy, who returned his for a touchdown, had fumble recoveries.
• Wyoming Area senior running back Nick O'Brien became the 18th member of the Wyoming Valley Conference's 4,000-yard club last week. O'Brien ran for 181 yards in a 44-14 win over Nanticoke Area to join the club. O'Brien, who has 4,017 yards, needs 69 yards to pass James Pizano, a 1993 Wyoming Area graduate, as the school's all-time leading rusher. The Warriors play at Holy Redeemer on Saturday.
• Trinity senior running back Adam Geiger has been on a touchdown binge the last few week. Last Friday in a 49-19 victory over Milton Hershey the 6-0, 195-pound back, who recently heard from Penn State assistant coach Larry Johnson about recruiting, scored five touchdowns for the second time in three weeks. Geiger has 14 touchdowns in his last 12 quarters of football.
• Quarterback Kyle Beissel completed 16-of-18 passes for 248 yard and three TDs as Schuylkill Valley beat Fleetwood 42-0 to reach 5-0 for the first time in the program's 40-year history. The Panthers meet Berks Catholic, also 5-0, Friday in a Berks Football League Section 2 game. Each team still had a date with unbeaten Wyomissing. The teams are ranked 1, 2 and 3 in the District 3-AA power ratings.
• Notre Dame recruit Alex Anzalone ran for 182 second-half yards to help Wyomissing dig out of a 14-point hole and beat Pleasant Valley 31-27. Anzalone had three runs of 50 or more yards, two for TDs, and finished with a career-best 187 yards. He leads Berks County with 11 TDs.
• Joey Raffensperger ran for a career-best 265 yards and two other Hamburg players topped 170 yards as the Hawks ran for a school-record 639 yards in a 42-21 win over Kutztown. The Hawks had a school-record 651 total yards.
• Halfway home, and there are just two undefeated Lancaster-Lebanon League teams. Garden Spot improved to 5-0 with a 40-7 romp over Eastern Lebanon behind sophomore QB Mitch Martin, who rushed for 193 yards and a pair of touchdowns and passed for 212 yards and three more scores for the Spartans. And Penn Manor improved to 5-0 with a 28-14 statement victory over reigning PIAA Class AA state champ Lancaster Catholic. Penn Manor is the top-ranked Class AAAA team in District 3.
• Elizabethtown snapped the longest current losing streak in the Lancaster-Lebanon League when the Bears beat Conestoga Valley 14-13, ending a 17-game skid. Kirby Breault scored the game-winning touchdown with 6 seconds left on a 9-yard catch from Tyler Cottle. Breault caught TD passes on the previous two plays, but both were called back on penalties. The third time was the charm, and Elizabethtown had its first win since Week 7 of the 2010 season.
• In Manheim Central's 69-7 rout over winless Lebanon, the Barons attempted just one pass while piling up 575 rushing yards. All 10 of Manheim Central's touchdowns came via rushes.
• It's been a tough three-week stretch for Mount Carmel, but Luke Klingerman gave the Red Tornadoes a reason to smile despite last week's 41-37 loss to Montoursville. Klingerman set a school record for single-game rushing yards with his 355-yard performance. Klingerman scored on runs of 25, 1, 38, 68 and 7 yards. The total eclipsed the previous record of 296 yards set by Jon Veach in the 2000 season.
District 5 and 6
• A stomach virus that limited him to 16 carries turned out to be a bigger hindrance for Glendale senior running back Damon Braniff than did the Claysburg-Kimmel defense. Braniff ran for a school record 303 yards in a 37-6 win over the Bulldogs. A 1,000-yard rusher in 2011, Braniff came into the game with 334 yards on the ground. He raised his per-carry average from 4.6 to more than 7.
• The Heritage Conference is proving to be full of parity. Blairsville last week knocked Homer-Center from the unbeaten ranks. Blairsville's only losses are to undefeated Ligonier Valley and 4-1 Northern Cambria, whose only setback came at the hands of, you guessed it, Homer-Center. Northern Cambria, meanwhile, opened the season by defeating Penns Manor, a PIAA Class A semifinalist last season.
• Blacklick Valley's Johnny Sheesley has been a man on the spot for the Vikings as they've gotten off to a 4-1 start, combining to run and throw for 1,000 yards. However, he beat Conemaugh Township, 31-28, with a 22-yard field goal in overtime. Sheesley came into the game with only three successful PATs and even missed one wide right earlier in the contest.
• Cambria Heights hasn't had much luck over the years against Forest Hills, but the Highlanders got to silence a few of the old ghosts with a 24-6 victory over the Rangers behind 164 yards rushing by Tyler Crawford. It made Heights 2-33 all-time against Forest Hills and was its first win in the series since 1983.
• The top two teams in WPIAL Class AAAA, North Allegheny and Gateway, will clash in a nonconference contest that could be a preview of the District 7 championship at Heinz Field later this season. Their last meeting, in the WPIAL semifinals last fall, ended with North Allegheny pulling off a last-minute, 21-17 victory. The Gators are averaging 49 points a game and 24.7 yards per completion behind Arizona recruit Thomas Woodson, a dual-threat quarterback who has deep threats in junior wideouts Montae Nicholson, Delvon Randall and Ricky Rogers and tight ends Mileak Ford and Jaymar Parrish. The two-time defending WPIAL champion Tigers, who have won 21 consecutive games against league foes, are scoring 43.2 points a game. Stephen F. Austin recruit Mack Leftwich is completing 65 percent of his passes for 1,180 yards and has a talented trio of receivers in seniors Brendan Coniker and Gregg Garrity and junior Elijah Zeise. The game will be recorded and televised at 9 p.m. Saturday on PCN.
• Lenny Williams is the latest in a long line of talented quarterbacks at Sto-Rox, following in the footsteps of 1978 Heisman Trophy runner-up Chuck Fusina, PARADE All-American Jody Dickerson, two-time Tribune-Review Athlete of the Year Adam DiMichele and U.S. Army All-American Paul Jones. The 6-foot, 190-pound junior, a starter since his freshman year, has eclipsed 4,000 yards passing and 1,000 rushing in his career, and threw for 216 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 224 in a 35-31 victory over previously undefeated Northgate Friday.
• The City League's six teams completed their final non-league games last week and the results weren't favorable. Combined they were 2-14 against opponents from outside District 8. With the City League contracting, each team had to schedule three such games. The two victories were by Allderdice (21-7 over Linsley School) and Perry (32-13 over Pius X).
• Franklin senior Forrest Wested has emerged as an all-around threat on offense. Wested is a part-time quarterback and part-time wide receiver. He is 21st in the district (44 teams) with 410 passing yards and five touchdowns, while his counterpart, Kyle Ritchey, is second with 883 yards and six touchdowns. Wested is 20th in rushing with 475 yards and five touchdowns, fifth in receiving with 20 catches for 348 yards and three touchdowns and 18th in scoring with 48 points.
• District 10 will feature two huge games aside from Prep-McDowell. Region 1 will be decided when Class A powerhouses Sharpsville and West Middlesex meet. At the same time, Region 5 will likely be decided when Slippery Rock (5-0) hosts Warren (5-0).
• Fairview junior Shannon Jackson is having a breakout season with 1,146 yards and 12 touchdowns so far. Lakeview's Blake Reddick also joined the 1,000-yard club this past week by reaching 1,018. West Virginia recruit DeShawn Coleman (Hickory) and Corry's Matt Cragg may not compete for the rushing title but the two running backs have become MVP candidates. Coleman has 706 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground and is the district's leading scorer with 96 points. Cragg has 788 yards and 13 touchdowns on 103 carries and is right behind Coleman with 92 points.
• Bethlehem Catholic collected its biggest win since coach Joe Henrich took over the team before last season when it beat Bethlehem Liberty 14-13 on Friday. The Golden Hawks ended a 10-game losing streak with the victory and beat Bethlehem Liberty for the first time since 2007. The loss dropped the Hurricanes to 0-5, leaving them as the last winless team in the Lehigh Valley Conference.
• One week after becoming Allentown Central Catholic's all-time rushing leader, senior running back Colin McDermott broke the school's single-game rushing record with 374 yards and six touchdowns in a 42-12 win over Northampton. McDermott held the old single-game mark for the Vikings, when he ran for 279 yards in a PIAA Class 3A quarterfinal win over Clearfield in 2010.
• Parkland and Nazareth, two of three teams tied for second place in the LVC behind unbeaten Easton, will meet in this week's marquee game. Nazareth ended Parkland's season in 2011, blitzing the Trojans 63-27 in a Districts 2-4-11 Class 4A semifinal game en route to the subregional championship.
• Southern Lehigh ended Pen Argyl's 18-game regular-season winning streak with a 28-20 victory last Friday.
• Alex Parker had nine catches for 141 yards and two TDs, including a spectacular one-handed grab, fighting off pass interference, to lead Catasauqua to its fifth consecutive mercy-rule victory of the season, 37-0 over Saucon Valley. Parker had just six catches for 116 yards through four games.
• Noah Miller, in his second game as a quarterback, ran for 107 yards and three touchdowns, and threw for 217 yards and two more scores to lead Notre Dame-Green Pond to a 35-7 win over Northwestern.
• As noted in an earlier edition of the notebook, Shenandoah Valley quarterback Chris Palubinsky was on the brink of reaching 4,000 career passing yards. The school's career passing leader hit the milestone in last week's 42-35 victory over Jim Thorpe. Palubinsky completed 13-of-19 passes for 258 yards and three TDs, including the game-winner with just over 11 seconds left. The senior's career total now stands at 4,096 yards. He has completed 65-of-107 throws for 860 yards with eight TDs this season.
• Find cover because here come the Hurricanes. Schuylkill Haven, which suffered just its fifth losing season in the past 39 years in 2011, appears to be back. The Hurricanes won their third straight game and posted their second shutout in three contests with a 37-0 whitewash of Panther Valley last weekend. Haven has done it with its familiar grinding rushing game, led by halfback Will Casella and quarterback Ryan Fink. The Hurricanes face Shenandoah Valley tonight in a game that could help determine if one of the teams will qualify for the District 11 Class A playoffs.
— Contributions from Kevin Keating, Pottsville Republican; Jeff Reinhart, LLLeagueSports.com; Tom Reisenweber, Erie Times-News; Mike Drago, Reading Eagle; Dan Morehouse, WNPV Radio; Stephen Miller, Allentown Morning Call; Joby Fawcett, Scranton Times; Phil Cmor, Altoona Mirror;
Jim Reeser, Wilkes-Barre Citzens Voice; Andrew P. Shay, The Patriot-News; and Bill Hartlep, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.