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Sports

Wildcats matchup well with playoff opponent

| Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004

The Wildcats will have their claws full this Friday.

Kittanning opens the 2004 WPIAL Double-AA playoffs against a team ranked fifth in the state, but Kittanning isn't a pushover either.

The Wildcats have scored the second-most points in the Allegheny Conference and with their dominant run defense, they believe they match up well against a running Greensburg Central Catholic team.

"I think we match up pretty good with them," Wildcats head coach Sam Panchik said.

The Centurions have more speed than Kittanning, but the teams are very similar, but make no mistake, Panchik said, they aren't undefeated for nothing.

If Kittanning has an advantage, it's their run defense, which gives up an average of 60 yards per game.

"We are a good team," Panchik added. "We deserve to be in the playoffs."

Now that the playoffs are here, every team is playing with a clean slate. You never know what's going to happen, Panchik said.

The Centurions (9-0) are ranked third in the WPIAL-AA and the Wildcats (6-3) are sixth. Kittanning, though, is better than your typical 6-3 team. In two of their losses - Valley and Burrell - the Wildcats led in the fourth quarter, but fumbles gave both opponents easy opportunities to catch up and then eventually win. Against Ford City, their other loss this year, the Sabers surprisingly dominated the line of scrimmage against Kittanning, holding the Wildcats to a season low 134 yards on the ground.

"Ford City did some things (very well)," Panchik said. "But we didn't execute up front. We just got to execute and keep the ball away from (the Centurions). Whichever team executes the best is probably going to win the game."

So far this year, the Centurions have executed very well. They rank fifth in the state of all Double-A teams. They are undefeated at 9-0 and dominated their opponents in each game. Defensively, they have only given up 46 points this year, shutting out four opponents, while their offense has scored 358.

The Wildcats have scored 241 points this year while giving up 129. They also have one of the best running attacks around. Backs Joe Acerni and Brad Bothell lead Kittanning, and will need them to be at their best to find yardage against the Centurions' defense.

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