Will real BVA, Ringgold teams stand up?
Belle Vernon Area and Ringgold will play for the U.S. Army Rivalry Game Trophy Friday night.
However, there is much more than a trophy on the line when the two Big Nine Conference rivals collide at Jim Weir Stadium in a 7:30 p.m kickoff.
Both teams are 1-1 after two weeks and are locked in a logjam with Elizabeth Forward and Uniontown for third place behind unbeaten West Mifflin and Thomas Jefferson.
Both teams have designs on making the WPIAL Class AAA playoffs this season, and winning this game would give either team a leg up on that goal.
“Coming off a loss like we are (41-6 to West Mifflin), we'd like to get back on track Friday,” said BVA coach Aaron Krepps. “These are the kind of games that really matter in the standings. It's two evenly matched teams. And it's a rivalry game.”
“It's a huge game and, being that we both lost to probably the best two teams in the conference, the winner here will be in a pretty good position afterward,” said Ringgold coach Matt Humbert.
The only question going into the rivalry game is which of the two teams will show up?
Will it be the BVA team that battled West Mifflin to a 6-6 draw in the first half or the one that got outscored 35-0 in the second half?
For Ringgold, will it be the team that led T.J. 10-7 at halftime, or the one that failed to make a first down and was outscored 24-0 after intermission?
Krepps says he doesn't see much difference between the two halves his team turned in against the Titans.
“We played very well defensively in the first half and even into the second half,” he said. “But somewhere along the way, things broke down for us defensively in the third quarter and it snowballed. It was just a matter of execution. We didn't execute as well as we did in the first half.
“Really, our issue wasn't so much defense as it was offense. Our offense didn't give our defense any help against West Mifflin. That has got to change.”
Humbert sounded like Krepps when asked which Ringgold team in relation to the T.J. game will show up.
“It's a matter of execution,” Humbert said. “That was the difference. In the second half it was one miscue after another. But the T.J. game showed us that we can play with anybody if we do what we need to do.”
Krepps says the key to beating the Rams is executing on the field.
“They've got some big-play kids we have to contain,” he said.
The one who will get plenty of attention from the Leps is Ringgold quarterback Nico Law, who has passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns and is the Rams' leading rusher with 171 yards on 20 carries and a TD.
“He's a gifted kid with some good wheels,” Krepps said of Law. “He is the glue to their offense, the kid who makes them go. He will get plenty of attention from us.”
Law's top receiver is Alan Pritchett with five receptions for 156 yards and three TDs
On the other side of the ball, the Leps are still looking for their identity on offense.
Since losing leading rusher Anthony Levis, BVA's ground game has been stagnant as Luke Durigon is the leading rusher with 60 yards on 17 carries with one TD.
Travis Snyder is the trigger man of BVA's offense, having completed 13 of 25 passes for 223 yards and six TDs, four of them to Cody Menges (five receptions, 98 yards).
“I think both of us are similar teams,” said Krepps. “I think it's going to be a very good game with a lot of hitting. It is a rivalry and it is meaningful to both teams.”
“We have so many similarities in what we do, the young kids we use,” Humbert said. “We're just excited to be playing Belle Vernon and it should be a heck of a game.
“We are so even, I think it will come down to who is more aggressive and plays with more discipline.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.