Carlynton thrashes Bishop Canevin
After the first two weeks of the WPIAL football season, things weren't looking good for the Carlynton football team.
The Cougars were reeling from losses to Fort Cherry, 46-31, and Clairton, 41-0. But after the team defeated rival Bishop Canevin, 37-12, last week, Carlynton is looking at the final six games in a whole new light.
“It opened up the whole team's eyes,” senior quarterback Freddie McKissick said. “We realized what we are capable of doing. Our next three games are at home. Our season started (against Bishop Canevin).”
The key play of the game for Carlynton came on its opening drive. The Cougars faced a fourth-and-10 on the Bishop Canevin 40. Instead of being conservative with a punt, the coaching staff put the ball in the hands of McKissick, who connected with Evan Ban on a 40-yard score to go up, 6-0, early.
Canevin responded with an eight-play, 56-yard drive that was capped off by a Reed Relosky touchdown pass to Zach Cortese to tie the score, 6-6.
But the Carlynton rushing attack put the game away for good in the second quarter. Sophomore running back Isiah Canton got the Cougars in scoring position on a 44-yard run early in the frame and capped off the drive with a 1-yard score.
McKissick added a 19-yard run to put Carlynton up, 20-6, at the break. Canton ran for 89 yards in the first half, and McKissick added 34.
“We started on fire, and we ended on fire,” Canton said. “The whole team was great. The line did a perfect job. They're going to keep it up. I know that for sure.”
The low point of the game for Carlynton came at the start of the second half as it fumbled on its opening drive. The Crusaders recovered the ball at Carlynton 25-yard line, and Relosky connected with Sean Fitzgerald on a 13-yard strike to pull within eight of the Cougars.
But Carlynton put its foot down from that point on as Canton and McKissick each added a touchdown run, and Ted Ford added a 29-yard field goal for extra security.
“We looked like a football team,” Carlynton coach Terry George said. “We have stressed to the players they hadn't played to their full potential. They started to believe in themselves in the first half. This is what can happen when they play to their abilities. We looked like a compete football team.”
Canton ran wild in the win, recording 189 yards and two scores. The Cougars defense was ferocious, holding Bishop Canevin to negative-18 yards in the first half.
“We made a few changes on the defense that we thought would make us better from the last two games,” George said. “We moved some people around. I guess we were right. Our defensive front was outstanding. They let our linebackers run free and get to the ball.
“We also tackled better, which is something we have been working on.”
Despite a conference record of 1-2, the team is in the hunt for a playoff berth.
The Cougars have three home games — against Serra Catholic, Chartiers-Houston and California — and Brentwood and Monessen on the road remaining in Black Hills Conference play.
With a win over a rival, Carlynton has the momentum to seek out its first playoff berth since 2001.
“I will never give up on playoffs,” McKissick said. “I know for sure we can do it.”
Bishop Canevin is still looking for progression from a young team. After defeating District 6's Union, 31-3, in Week 1, the team suffered back-to-back conference losses by falling to Chartiers-Houston, 9-6, in Week 2.
A young team — with only five seniors on the roster — is even younger as senior fullback/middle linebacker Mark DeSchon will miss the rest of the season with a leg injury suffered in the first quarter of the Carlynton loss.
“It isn't the turnout we wanted,” Bishop Canevin coach Darren Schoppe said. “We are a young team, and we cannot afford to have penalties and to put ourselves in situations where it is third-and-long or second-and-long.”
Relosky showed an ability to make throws when needed as he completed 11 of 22 for 135 yards and two scores.
“That is true for any young kid,” Schoppe said. “I don't care if it is the quarterback, a lineman or a receiver. Every game under their belt will get them better.
“We came into this season knowing we were young. We expected growing pains. But we'll get better.”
The squads return to the field tomorrow, Friday, as Carlynton hosts Serra at 7 p.m. and Bishop Canevin hosts California at 7:30 p.m.
Nathan Smith is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or 412-388-5813.