Frazier, Bentworth battle for top spot
THE game in the Tri-County South Conference so far this season is Friday's Frazier at Bentworth contest.
When was the last time anybody said that?
But it's true.
The winner of Friday's showdown in Bentleyville will own sole possession of first place in the conference.
It's been a long time since the Commodores (2-0, 2-0) or Bearcats (2-0, 2-0) sat all alone atop the conference standings.
Over the last 15 years, the top dogs in the T-C South have been for the most part Beth-Center, Carmichaels or former member Monessen.
However, times have changed for Frazier and Bentworth, albeit more recently for the latter.
While Mike Steeber has had the Commodores in the playoffs for each of the last five seasons, the Bearcats have been improving by leaps and bounds during the third tenure of Ron Skiles at the helm.
“We haven't been 3-0 since 1984,” Skiles said, in reference to his first tour of duty as the program's coach. “It's been a long, long time.”
Skiles says there is a buzz around the Bentworth community that hasn't been heard for a while.
“The whole community is excited and the kids are excited,” he said. “This is a great opportunity for us. Can we keep up with them? Who knows? But we are getting closer.”
Skiles knows that his team will be in an uphill battle.
“Frazier is one of the great programs in our conference,” he said. “Offensively and defensively, they are just so well-coached. They don't make any mistakes.”
Frazier coach Mike Steeber was equally as complimentary to the Bearcats.
“It's remarkable how far they have come (since Skiles took over),” Steeber said. “You can see it on the tape. They are more aggressive, they have good intensity. He's done an excellent job with those kids in a short time.
“I think it's going to be one heck of a challenge for us going there Friday night.”
Frazier comes into the game averaging 46.5 ppg and is the lone remaining team in the WPIAL to not be scored upon this season.
Bentworth is not that far behind as the Bearcats average 40 ppg and give up an average of 10.5 ppg.
Frazier's attack is led by versatile Hunter Patterson. The senior quarterback has thrown for 291 yards and four touchdowns this season while completing 14 of 17 passes.
He also leads the team in rushing with 117 yards and three more scores.
Patterson has also scored on a punt return.
Bentworth, meanwhile, has spread its offense around using a two-quarterback system.
Josh Hughes has completed 16 of 26 passes for 172 yards and four TDs while Riley Nickeson has completed 11 of 23 passes for 211 yards and three scores.
Ethan Tush has carried the ball 32 times for 253 yards and three TDs and has caught two TD passes.
Receivers Noah Peternel (10) and Ty Mitchell (nine) have combined for 19 receptions, 303 yards and four TDs.
“They've won two games. They are a confident football team right now,” Steeber said of the Bearcats.
“They are where we want to be,” Skiles said of the Commodores. “And we're getting better.”
Jeff Oliver is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-684-2666 or firstname.lastname@example.org.