Kiski Area looking to take giant leap
Last week's 28-21 victory over Plum was arguably Kiski Area's biggest win in the past decade, and the Cavaliers took a major step to their first return to the WPIAL playoffs since 1990 by improving their record to 3-1 in the Quad South and 4-2 overall.
But just a week after defeating the then-undefeated Mustangs, Kiski Area coach Dave Grimm finds himself starring at perhaps his team's biggest test of the year when it visits Penn-Trafford (5-1, 4-0) 7:30 tonight at Warrior Stadium in Harrison City.
'It was a big win last week,' Grimm said. 'They were ranked and undefeated, and I told the kids that's where we want to be. Then again, I had to tell them same thing this week about Penn-Trafford.'
It's the first time the Cavaliers have had a meaningful mid-October game in years, and it's also the type of game that can put a program on the rebound back on the map.
But it won't be easy.
The Warriors are fresh off a 56-0 whipping of Indiana Area and have been on a roll since dropping a season-opening game at Seneca Valley - a team Kiski defeated in Week 2.
Penn-Trafford's stingy defense, which has only given up 52 points in six games, will be tested against the strength of the Cavaliers' team - its offense.
Kiski Area has been led by speedy, 6-foot-4 wide receiver Greg Hutcherson, who has mesmerized opposing defenders in grabbing 25 passes for 575 yards and nine touchdowns, but Hutcherson left last week's game with a foot injury and, although he will play, it will only be on offense.
'He's done some running this week, and we'll see what happens,' Grimm said.
If Hutcherson's not close to full speed, it could damper the Cavaliers' hopes.
While he was in the Plum game, the Cavaliers opened a 21-0 lead. Once he was out, Plum went on a 21-0 run of its own.
Penn-Trafford coach Art Tragesser says Kiski Area's athletes concern him.
'They have tremendous skill,' Tragesser said. 'They have very good athletes. When you have good athletes, you can play good defense. It will be a tough team to hold down.'
Tragesser says he's been pleased with his team's improvement during the season. After the Warriors opened the season with a loss at Seneca Valley, they have run off five consecutive victories.
The Warriors' Wing-T offense is starting to gel behind the running of Nick Tropiano and Blaise Abramowitz. Quarterback Rick Evans, who attempted five passes last week and had two go for touchdowns, has been an effective passer.
'We had a lot of question marks going into the season,' Tragesser said. 'We had a great summer, and we're playing very well as a team. Some of the older kids have become leaders, and the younger kids are starting to contribute, more and more every game.'
Penn-Trafford marks the second of three games that Grimm called 'playoff' games for Kiski. The Cavaliers play Greater Latrobe next week.
'There's no rest,' he said. 'But the bottom line is that this is our most important game all year. They've got what we want to achieve, and to get it, we'll have to knock them off. It's their homecoming, and they'll have a lot of momentum, but we've been waiting for this. It's a must have for this program.'
Sports writer Paul Schofield contributed to this story.