The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

HS Sports Ferndale

September 1, 2012

Conemaugh Valley, Ferndale hopeful for fast start

JOHNSTOWN — The season opener always is a big event regardless of conference, border rivalries or history.

But today’s matchup between Conemaugh Valley and Ferndale at Thomas Yewcic Stadium might have a bit more significance for two programs hoping to make a strong opening statement following a string of tough seasons.

Conemaugh Valley is coming off a 2-7 year. The Blue Jays have a combined four wins in the past three seasons.

Ferndale has endured back-to-back 0-9 seasons with five victories in the past five years.

“It’s been a rivalry for a long time, a big rivalry,” said veteran Yellow Jackets coach Tony Penna Sr. “That, added to the fact that we both want to get out of the chute with a victory to get our season headed in the right direction, it’s big. I think it will be good for both sides, a great game.”

Penna has a 1,050-yard passer in returning quarterback Chad Eisenhuth and a big-play receiver in Isiah Sajatovich as well as the versatile Carlos Mason. Ferndale has worked on building a solid ground game to complement the aerial attack.

“We think we’ve improved in the running game,” Penna said. “We played our scrimmages to look at certain things. We played two Laurel Highlands teams that second week, and our goal was not to be embarrassed and I don’t think we were embarrassed. We improved in our running game and that was our goal in camp.”

Coach Winston Redman is in his second season at Valley. His wing-T offense will revolve around senior fullback Shane Corson and senior quarterback Xavier Butts.

“We went up to Saltsburg and battled them. They had 42 kids and we had 27,” Redman said of one of the Jays’ scrimmages. “Marion Center, with 47 kids, we battled with them and did OK. They are a bigger, stronger team but I thought we held our own. The kids are improving every week and that’s all I can ask for. I think we’re farther ahead this year.”

Corson has caught Penna’s attention, both on offense and at middle linebacker.

“I’ve been impressed with the toughness of their fullback and middle linebacker – the Corson kid. He brings a lot to the table. He’s a hard-nosed kid, a typical Conemaugh Valley kid,” Penna said. “They have a scat back kid who runs counters and they throw to him. I was impressed with their quarterback. He threw some nice balls during the scrimmages.”

Redman said Conemaugh Valley typically has a distinct homefield advantage by playing Saturday afternoon home games, but that won’t be the case this time.

“They don’t have any lights either,” Redman said. “They practice in the heat and play their games in the heat. It’s not going to affect them. They have the same number of kids we do, so depth won’t be a factor.

“Ferndale is having a white out and we’re having a white out that day,” Redman said, referring to fans wearing white T-shirts in support of their teams. “The two communities are trying to build it up. The boosters on both sides have sold a lot of T-shirts. I think it will be a fun day and an exciting day.”

While this WestPAC contest represents only one week, Redman pointed to several upcoming games on the Jays’ schedule as a reason he hopes his team has a solid start.

“It’s a very important game. Looking at our schedule, we turn around and play at Penns Manor, at North Star and Berlin all in order,” Redman said. “We’ve got to get that first one. Ferndale probably is looking at it the same way too.”

Conemaugh Valley and Ferndale did not play in 2011.

United at Rockwood, 1 p.m.:     Rockwood senior Matt Seifert will move into the quarterback position in place of graduated four-year starter Ben Miller while Luke Brancato brings experience in the backfield.

The Rockets have posted three consecutive three-win seasons and are looking for a few more victories in the WestPAC.

The Heritage Conference’s United returns five starters on offense and five more on defense from a 4-5 team.

The Lions will miss graduated back Dom Chero and his 1,240 yards. Sophomore Tyler Oliver and senior Doug Lavis are in the backfield with junior Tyler Mack, sophomores Grant Ingalls and Warren Lowther, and freshman Brent Mack.

Senior Chuck Hropovich and junior Weylon McGeary competed for the quarterback spot in camp.

Rockwood and United did not play last season.

Bedford at Bishop Guilfoyle, 7 p.m.: The Bisons open their LHAC schedule with a night game against Guilfoyle at Mansion Park.

Bedford returned nine lettermen and five starters each on offense and defense from a 6-5 squad.

Gone, though, is quarterback Marcus Shippey, who passed for more than 1,200 yards and had more than 100 tackles on defense.

Senior Aaron Henry moved from fullback to quarterback, and Jacob Wirick moved from guard to tailback during camp.

Junior fullback Josiah Koontz and junior receivers Travis Hickey and Kody Blevins are potential playmakers.

The Marauders were 1-8 last season. Senior Pat Irwin returns at quarterback after throwing for 654 yards and rushing for 330 last season.

Junior tailback Cody Rossman gained 311 yards last season.

Bedford blanked visiting Guilfoyle 31-0 in 2011.

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