Share This Page

Clarion's explosive offense to test Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's stingy defense

| Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, 11:02 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic's Joshua Churchin tackles Tussey Mountain's Daniel Taylor in a PIAA Class A quarterfinal playoff game Friday, November 29, 2013, at Hampton High School.

Although every team must play offense and defense to win a football game, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic and Clarion have reached the PIAA Class A semifinals by dominating on opposite sides of the ball.

The Clarion offense has been a statistical juggernaut this year, averaging 54 points per game. Senior quarterback John Katis has thrown for 2,083 yards and 23 touchdowns on 96 for 149 passing. Senior running back Damien Slike has rushed for 1,869 yards and 37 touchdowns, and junior Ian Corbett has added 1,247 yards and 20 touchdowns.

But North Catholic coach Bob Ravenstahl is confident his team can contain the Bobcats.

“I think we've been pretty successful at stopping both the run and the pass. It's a team effort,” Ravenstahl said. “It's just another game to (the players) to be honest with you. We're just going to keep doing what we're doing.”

North Catholic has held its opponents to just over 10 points per game, including a 14-0 shutout victory over Sto-Rox in the WPIAL championship game at Heinz Field two weeks ago.

Last week against District 5 champion Tussey Mountain, the Trojans showcased their offensive potential, as well. After falling behind early, North Catholic rattled off 48 unanswered points to cruise to a 48-7 win.

But the offensive outburst isn't the norm, said senior quarterback P.J. Fulmore, who has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 TDs.

“Our offense is really patient. We'll be all right with getting 3 or 4 yards per play and not getting big plays,” Fulmore said. “That's really what our game plan is going into the game. We like to control the clock.”

Ravenstahl said he expects the game to be decided in the trenches, with both teams committed to the running game.

Last week's 35-20 victory over Lakeview was Clarion's first real challenge. The Bobcats committed four turnovers, including the first interception of the year by quarterback John Katis. He had thrown 149 straight passes without an interception.

“We've been pretty good all year at not doing those things, and obviously if we're going to have any success this Friday night we can't do it again,” Clarion coach Larry Wiser said. “We can't spot a team that many turnovers and give them the field position like we did last week.”

The WPIAL champs will be Clarion's toughest test so far, so Wiser will need his team to respond quickly should North Catholic get into a groove.

“Through every game there's going to be adversity out there and you need to be positive toward that,” Wiser said. “You get changes in momentum in a game and you can't let something take off and blossom.”

Gary Horvath is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at ghorvath@tribweb.com.

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.