Winless Plum, Canon-McMillan meet with their first victories on the line
Somebody will taste victory for the first time this season Friday evening as the Plum and Canon-McMillan football teams meet in a Quad Central Conference game at Plum's Mustangs Stadium.
The homecoming contest for the Mustangs is a meeting of two of the four remaining winless teams in WPIAL Quad-A.
Both the Mustangs and the Big Macs have struggled putting points on the board over the first four weeks of the season.
Canon-McMillan tallied 17 in a week-one loss to Penn Hills and has been shut out the past three weeks in a tough gauntlet against Upper St. Clair (47-0), Pittsburgh Central Catholic (56-0) and Bethel Park (31-0).
Plum has only six points so far this season, and last week, the Mustangs were blanked on the scoreboard by Woodland Hills, 51-0.
“We have to rebuild on what we were able to accomplish the first three games and get the (Woodland Hills) game out of our minds,” Plum head coach Matt Morgan said.
“I think if we execute our game plan, we should be alright. That is how we are approaching things.”
Canon-McMillan edged Plum last year, 16-13, and it was the Big Macs' lone win of the 2012 season.
“Both teams are hungry for their first win, and I know they are going to come in here ready to play,” Morgan said.
Canon-McMillan is under the tutelage of first-year head coach Ron Coder, a member of several successful Penn State football teams in the mid-1970s.
Coder was drafted by the Steelers in 1976, and he played for several teams in the NFL and USFL before retiring at age 31.
He took over a Big Macs team that went 2-26 over the past three seasons.
Canon-McMillan's leading passer, runner and receiver all returned from last year, and they were challenged by others in preseason workouts.
The offensive line is anchored by two-way lineman Alex Paulina, a junior who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs in at nearly 300 pounds.
“They bring a lot of heat on defense, and they like to pressure the quarterback,” Morgan said.
“Offensively, they do a lot of different things, including a lot of misdirection plays. That part will challenge our defense to play disciplined football. They will try to throw a lot at us. If we don't play sound football, it's going to be a long game.”
Morgan said turnovers, penalties and other missed opportunities again spelled doom against Woodland Hills last week.
“Woodland Hills always has big, fast and strong athletes,” Morgan said.
“I don't think we've been dominated physically yet. I think a lot of it is the mental side of things and being able to execute the way I know we can. We didn't play defense the way we had been, and I think we will get that corrected this week. It's about going back and getting those kids focused again.”
Junior Zach Martin led all Plum running backs with eight carries for 40 yards against Woodland Hills.
Fellow junior Nate Turchick added 28 yards on seven carries.
Woodland Hills' running attack compiled 248 yards, with sophomore tailback Miles Sanders leading the way with 97 yards and two touchdowns on seven rushing attempts.
Junior wide receiver Phil Mahr, Morgan said, was expected to be back on the practice field this week after missing a couple of games because of a leg injury.
“Phil is a physical receiver who blocks well and runs good routes,” Morgan said. “He gives us a nice weapon on offense.”
Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.