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Falcons hope to take down No. 4 McKeesport

Evan R. Sanders | Tribune-Review
Connellsville's Dylan Knopsnider (21) will try to help the Falcons run the ball effectively against a tough McKeesport defense on Friday, Oct. 11, 2013 at Connellsville Stadium.

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McKeesport (6-0, 5-0) at Connellsville (1-5, 1-4), 7 p.m. Friday

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To date, the 2013 season has not gone the way Connellsville had hoped it would. Through six games, the Falcons have managed just one win and their playoff hopes seem dim. But all of this hasn't stopped coach Dave McDonald from remaining positive as his team enters a Week 7 home game against No. 4 McKeesport, a team playing for the top spot in the Quad East.

“We've played some really good football against some good teams,” McDonald said. “We expect that to continue against McKeesport.”

The Falcons have had spurts where they played well in virtually every game this season. But Connellsville is still looking for a solid four-quarter effort on a week-to-week basis.

“I think what is driving this team is to win some games and play consistent for 48 minutes,” McDonald said. “I think we're starting to realize that we've played some good teams and we're right there. We just need to get over the hump.”

Last week, Connellsville had a big dent put in its playoff hopes thanks to a 21-15 loss to Penn-Trafford. The Falcons were in catch-up mode for most of the game, but were in it until the end. The Falcons can at least try to build on that, considering the Warriors beat Connellsville, 38-17, last year.

“I think the way that we played on Friday night proved to our kids that we are capable of playing good football,” McDonald said. “We put ourselves in a position to win a game against a quality opponent.”

To be in position to win this week, the Falcons will have to play exceptionally well. McKeesport is tied with Gateway for the top spot in the conference. The Tigers have given up just 58 points all season, and are second only to Gateway in points scored (178 points).

“Coach (George) Smith has done a good job with them,” McDonald said. “They are two yards, four yards, eight yards and then 20 yards. They put themselves in position to be successful.”

The Tigers do most of their damage on the ground. Quarterback David Queen serves as a running threat, which compliments the talents of running back Mikell Moore and rusher/pass-catcher TyWann Smith.

“Our kids have to get off the field against their triple-option (offense),” McDonald said. “We have to play sound.”

In recent weeks, Connellsville has been effective running the ball with the likes of Christopher Russell, Michael Parlak and Dylan Knopsnider. A strong ground attack could go a long way toward the Falcons' controlling the ball and the clock, thus keeping it away from McKeesport's offense. If the Falcons get behind, the passing game, led by quarterback Jade Maher, will become more critical.

After last week's loss to Penn-Trafford, the Falcons likely have to end the regular season with a three-game winning streak to have a chance at the playoffs.

“We don't talk to much about (playoffs),” McDonald said. “But if we win out, I think we get in.”

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