Connellsville football travels to rival Hempfield looking for 1st win
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Players and coaches often hesitate to put the “must-win” tag on a game, especially this early in the season.
But for Hempfield and Connellsville, their matchup at Spartan Stadium on Friday night is shaping up to be just that.
After tough conference losses to Gateway and Kiski Area, the Falcons (0-2, 0-2 Quad East) are looking for their first win as they take on Hempfield (1-1, 1-1), which picked up its first win last week against Latrobe.
“The past two years, Hempfield's been a must-win for us,” Connellsville senior quarterback Jade Maher said. “We started out 0-2 last year and got a big win against them that sort of kept us in playoff contention and same thing this year. This is a must-win — try and go out and play how we know how to play and limit the turnovers and we can live with the end result then.”
“I think every game in this conference is a must-win,” Hempfield coach Rich Bowen said. “I think the conference this year is really good. I don't think there's a bad team in this league.”
Connellsville hasn't done itself any favors in its first two games, coughing up 10 fumbles, with some coming in costly situations.
In the Falcons' 41-22 loss to Gateway last week, Connellsville's first two series ended inside the Gators' 20 after fumbles changed the course of the game.
“We've just found multiple ways to fumble the ball in our first two contests, and it's just completely taken us out of having the ability to even compete because of those turnovers,” coach Dave McDonald said.
“It's something that our guys are now thinking about a little bit, and it's something we have to have mental toughness to overcome.”
In addition to limiting turnovers, Connellsville will also have to contend with Spartans senior Joey DeFloria, a versatile running back who enters the game with 251 rushing yards, including 132 and three total touchdowns last week.
“Their tailback makes them go,” McDonald said. “He's going to be one of the best we see all year no matter what conference. He's an outstanding kid. He's a hard-nosed runner. He's very shifty. He's got really good speed. He's a stud.”
Handing the ball off to DeFloria will be senior Ty George, a dual-threat quarterback with 197 passing yards and 100 rushing yards this season.
His counterpart will be Maher, a player Bowen and the Spartans will attempt to contain in an effort to end their two-game losing streak to the Falcons.
“Obviously we have to be able to contain the offense Connellsville runs with their quarterback, Maher,” Bowen said. “I think he's a really good quarterback, and he does a good job running that offense.”
Maher will be lining up with a physical offensive line as well as junior running back Dylan Knopsnider, who accounted for 91 yards and a touchdown on seven carries last week.
As is the case in every good rivalry, there will be mutual respect on both sidelines.
“Rich (Bowen) does a great job,” McDonald said. “He's a very good coach. They're very well prepared. Rich and his staff do a great job. ... I think Hempfield is just as good if not better than the two teams we've played up to this point.”
“I think Connellsville, they're 0-2, but they're not a bad football team,” Bowen said. “They've played two really good teams in Gateway and Kiski, and they've moved the ball well on them. They've just had some unfortunate things happen.”
Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.
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.
- Militzer filled with enthusiasm
- Valley hires football coach Colosimo as athletic director
- Shady Side Academy football prepares for upcoming season
- Fox Chapel football putting in preseason work
- Franklin Regional, Norwin, Penn-Trafford compete at annual WCCA 7-on-7 tournament
- Steel Valley players benefit from trip to NFL 7 on 7 event
- Colts’ McAfee helps improve alma mater Plum’s weight room