Notebook: Mounties try to pick up the pieces
In the face of overwhelming evidence to a 6-0 shutout, Ligonier Valley did come away with a few positives in Friday's game against Northern Cambria.
But only a few.
Although Ligonier Valley out gained Northern Cambria 252 yards to 161 and had 10 more first downs than the Colts, the most glaring statistics were the Mounties' four turnovers and nine penalties.
"We pretty much shot ourselves in the foot," Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel said. "We were in a position to score several times, but we turned the ball over. We were hit with penalties all in crucial situations."
Ligonier Valley was in position to score several times Friday night, particularly in the first quarter.
On first and goal from the 12, Ligonier Valley quarterback Jon Cotchen rushed for an 11 yard gain, but a holding penalty and a personal foul set the Mounties back to the 26. Four plays later, Cotchen was intercepted by Mike Paronish.
After that drive, excluding the overtime period, Ligonier Valley failed to get inside the Northern Cambria 20.
The first game of the season for Ligonier Valley was as though last season never ended. Ligonier Valley finished the 2004 season last in the Heritage Conference in turnover differential (-17) and scoring offense (9.2 points per game).
Starting today, however, Beitel is enforcing an "us against the world" philosophy on his team, after the team has dropped its past nine games and 15 out of its past 20.
"The big thing is to pull our team together and regroup and concentrate (on Saltsburg)," Beitel said. "The game was very emotionally challenging. There's a game that could have been ours very easily, and we gave it away."
It's in the water
Just a few miles away, Laurel Valley, Ligonier Valley's sister school, is also left wondering after being handed a 33-12 loss to Blairsville -- its worst week one loss since 2002.
"We can learn from it and eliminate some of the mistakes we made," Laurel Valley coach Jerry Page said. "To beat a team like Blairsville, you need to have everything going right and we didn't have everything going right (Saturday)."
Laurel Valley limited its mistakes to very few with only one turnover and five penalties.
"With an inexperienced football team, that's always a concern," Page said. "Again, it's a first game against an outstanding football team, and now we move forward and see what happens."
For the second consecutive year, both schools have lost their respective openers.
With only 29 offensive plays, Saltsburg coach Eric Kostic said he did the best he could do in Friday night's 7-6 loss to Purchase Line. Without senior quarterback Mike Speal completing a pass, Saltsburg managed only 89 yards, which was last in the conference after the first week.
"It doesn't give you much of an opportunity to do anything," he said. "(This week's game) really isn't about Ligonier Valley, it's about us. We need to improve, especially offensively."
Heritage Conference leaders
Here are the top statistical leaders from this weekend's games.
Adam Highberger, Blairsville 16-of-20, 207 yards, 2 TDs
Adam Gibson, Laurel Valley 7-of-15, 111 yards, 2 TDs
Sean Domer, United, 7-of-11, 100 yards, 2 TDs
Nick Stone, Blairsville, 18 carries, 145 yards, 2 TDs
Travis Clapsaddle, Purchase Line, 15 carries, 103 yards
Todd Smyers, Marion Center, 23 carries, 93 yards, 2 TDs
Andy Ostach, Blairsville, 6 catches, 105 yards, 1 TD
John Caruso, Homer-Center, 2 catches, 64 yards
Justin Shetler, Laurel Valley, 3 catches, 59 yards, 1 TD