Knoch set for matchup with longtime rival Hampton
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Hampton installed a new scoreboard at Fridley Field this summer, but Talbots coach Jacque DeMatteo hasn't had much time to take in feedback on the upgrade.
“I just know it's a lot nicer when the home team's side is lit up and the visitor's side isn't,” DeMatteo said.
Making that happen could be a mega challenge when high-scoring Knoch rolls down Route 8 for a Class AAA Greater Allegheny Conference game at 7 p.m. Friday.
Knoch (4-0, 3-0), ranked No. 7 by Trib Total Media, will be shooting for its sixth consecutive victory over No. 10 Hampton (3-1, 2-1).
In recent history, this matchup of longtime rivals usually has been decided by a touchdown or less. But a big exception occurred last year when an experienced Knoch squad crushed Hampton, 42-6.
“That game was a little bit of an anomaly,” Knoch coach Mike King said. “Hampton has always played us tough. They've always played good defense.”
Still, Knoch continues to light up scoreboards around Western Pennsylvania.
Even though the Knights graduated their leading rusher and passer from last year's WPIAL runner-up team, they have outscored opponents, 143-28, this season. Knoch is averaging 35.8 points, which is just below last season's average of 36.6.
“They keep reloading,” said DeMatteo, who's looking for his first win over Knoch since taking over at Hampton in 2008. “Their running backs are just as good as what they had last year. You can't tell the difference.”
Knoch senior Ben Tackett, who moved from wide receiver to running back during the offseason, has led the way with 550 yards and 11 touchdowns on 64 carries.
Senior Dakota Bruggeman also relocated — from receiver to quarterback — and has completed 22 of 47 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns.
Senior running back/linebacker Mike Cunningham has provided a spark on both sides of the ball for the Knights.
Meanwhile, Knoch's defense, which revolves around senior nose guard Jonathan Whalen, is allowing only 7.0 points per game.
Hampton fielded a relatively young team last year and benefit from the return of its leading rusher (senior Anthony Bianco), passer (senior Jon Nigro) and receiver (junior Jon Floss). The Talbots are scoring 31.0 and allowing 14.8 points per game.
“They did have a young team last year, but sometimes you have to put younger kids in the game and let them develop as a group,” King said.
Hampton also leans on one of the top linemen in the WPIAL — Noah Shulman. A 6-foot-2, 250-pound senior guard/nose tackle, Shulman is being recruited by Division I Football Championship Subdivision Patriot League schools, including Lehigh, according to DeMatteo.
“(Shulman) jumps off the film,” King said. “He did last year in many ways. We gotta take care of him. All three of their defensive linemen in their 3-3 stack scheme are very good. The key to this game is controlling the line.”
Paul Kogut is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-224-2696.
Show commenting policy
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.
- Pens again fail to mount comeback against Nashville
- Tennessee’s Peterman to enroll at Pitt in May
- Petrishen at ease with decision to play football at Penn State
- Snow, freezing rain, bitter cold coming to Western Pa.
- Pittsburgh Street in Cheswick to remain closed Monday
- Homemade hockey rink popular in Lower Burrell
- Penguins notebook: Pouliot heading west with team
- Tighter payday loan rules intended to shield debtors
- PSNK men’s basketball team loses 5th in a row
- Iraqi libraries ransacked
- Annual Westmoreland County prayer breakfast focuses on education sector