KO, Sto-Rox try to break tie for second
Sto-Rox likes to pass. Keystone Oaks likes to run.
The offenses and their playmakers will figure out which is better Friday night when No. 5-ranked Sto-Rox visits No. 7 Keystone Oaks for a 7:30 p.m. Century Conference game.
Keystone Oaks (6-1) is second in the conference standings, while Sto-Rox (6-1, 6-1) is third. Another victory will be critical for seeding and momentum heading into the playoffs.
But don't expect any surprises.
"We've definitely had some success running the ball," Keystone Oaks coach Nick Kamberis said. "It's no secret what we're going to try to do. We're pretty big up front, and we feel pretty good about our two backs."
They are juniors Jordan Maddox and Matt McCann, the most productive running back tandem in the WPIAL. If you combine their season statistics through seven games, they've rushed for 1,836 yards and 25 touchdowns.
"They do a very nice job running the ball," Sto-Rox coach Jason Ruscitto said. "They execute their game plan. They'll load up their backs behind that line and run behind those kids. They just make plays in the running game, but that's a credit to coach Kamberis."
Sto-Rox, of course, also has a pair of high-profile athletes, and they are what makes the Vikings' passing game as dangerous as it is. Quarterback Paul Jones, in five games since coming back from a broken ankle, has thrown for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdowns, five of which have been to 6-foot-5 Pitt recruit Andrew Carswell.
"Obviously, going against a team like Sto-Rox, we need to do a real good job in the secondary with our checks, coverages and disgusing things," Kamberis said. "We've been getting away with some things the last couple weeks, but when you have two great players like Sto-Rox has, they can expose the little mistakes."
Defending Jones and the Sto-Rox passing game doesn't start in the secondary, however. Kamberis said the key to limiting any good quarterback begins up front.
"The more you can harass him, the better odds you have," Kamberis said. "But to do that you have to weaken yourself in the secondary, and you open yourself up to big plays. We have to make him as uncomfortable as we can in the pocket and do the best we can to limit big plays in the secondary."
Jones' mobility might be an issue. Ruscitto said his Penn State-recruit quarterback still isn't quite at 100 percent with his ankle, but that Jones has performed well under the circumstances, specifically during last week's game at South Park on a rain-soaked field.
Meanwhile, Keystone Oaks has had issues the past two weeks with players getting the flu, but a victory would be a big part of the cure.
"Obviously, you want to be hitting on all cylinders going into the playoffs," Kamberis said. "It can have the adverse affect as well if you don't win. We just need to approach it like any other week, whether or not there's a packed house."