As Forest Hills football coach Don Bailey put it, the rivalry between his Rangers and Bishop McCort has “been good since the early 1980s.”
Sure, the proximity between the two schools helps and no doubt some get caught up in the whole public vs. private debate, but the main reason for the intensity is simple.
“Generally, (Bishop McCort) is always good and we’re pretty good most of the time too,” Bailey said.
Both teams produced good results in Week 1.
Forest Hills opened its Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference schedule with a thorough 44-0 victory at home against Westmont. The new-look Rangers, who returned only three starters on each side of the football from last year, showcased an exceptionally balanced offense, led by running back Shawn Dell, who rushed for 169 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Dell received ample room to run behind an offensive line with five new starters.
“They were strong up front on both sides of the football,” said Bishop McCort coach Kevin Sheridan. “They made no mistakes and controlled the football. They have the ability to capitalize on mistakes year after year.
“This is two good programs matched up against one another. Forest Hills has been a measuring stick for programs around the area for years. They play football the way it’s meant to be played.”
Bishop McCort played a strong brand of football during the second half of its opener against Bishop Carroll at DeGol Field on the St. Francis campus. Zaine Tomkowski threw three touchdown passes to Jordan Spangler in a 38-18 victory.
“We made a series of mistakes and there’s opportunity for growth,” Sheridan said. “As the game wore on, our level of execution was better.”
Like most games, this one figures to be won along the line of scrimmage, and that’s where these two teams differ, at least in terms of experience.
Forest Hills fields an inexperienced offensive line, while several of Bishop McCort’s top returning players like Gap Barbin and Charlie Kleman are linemen.
“Our line did outstanding (against Westmont) especially for all the inexperience, and I think we’re going to be a big-play team,” Bailey said. “Our linemen have to hold their own. Bishop McCort is very big and very athletic. We’ll see how they do.”
The Crushers lost 27-7 last year in Sidman.
Penn Cambria at Bedford: The Panthers got off to a strong start with a shutout victory over Greater Johnstown while the Bisons are still looking to put their first points on the board in a loss at Bishop Guilfoyle.
The Panthers’ Justin Fuller scored twice while Brendan Eckenrode threw for a score to Nathan Keagy and Chad Tsikalas tossed one to Mack Behe. Mike Eckenrode also rushed for a PC touchdown.
Bedford had 63 yards rushing and just 11 passing against Guilfoyle.
The Panthers shut out the Bisons 24-0 in 2011.
Central Cambria at Greater Johnstown: The Red Devils have had the Trojans number the past two seasons, edging Johnstown 7-6 last season and winning 14-13 in 2010.
Both squads had disappointing shut out losses to open this season, with Central Cambria falling to Somerset and Johnstown to Penn Cambria.
Bishop Guilfoyle at Richland: Both teams were on the winning end of Week 1 games as the Marauders shut out Bedford and the Rams topped Cambria Heights.
Cody Rossman rushed for three touchdowns in Bishop Guilfoyle’s victory over the Bisons while Richland got three Kyle Flick touchdowns, two scores from Nico Pecora and one from Matt Shaffer, who also rushed for a touchdown. Tanner Solarczyk and Dominic Farina also had Richland touchdowns.
The Rams were 35-7 winners last year.
Bishop Carroll at Somerset: The Huskies are coming off a tough loss to Bishop McCort while the Golden Eagles opened with a victory over Central Cambria.
Quarterback David Maruca rushed for one Bishop Carroll score and threw to Dan Lesney and Dane Woo for the other two touchdowns. Somerset signal caller Tanner Stull was 9 of 14 passing for 158 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 62 yards and another score.
The Golden Eagles prevailed 17-0 last season.
Berlin Brothersvalley at Portage: Both teams are looking to maintain their momentum from strong Week 1 wins.
The Mountaineers got an outstanding team effort keyed by senior running back Drew Glotfelty, who had 155 yards on 12 carries, scored three touchdowns and added two interceptions in the 41-6 victory over Conemaugh Township.
Senior quarterback Evan Price threw a touchdown pass to sophomore Caleb Kephart, who was later ejected from the game, then rushed for what turned out to be the winning score in a 13-10 upset victory over North Star.
The Mustangs thumped the Mountaineers 54-0 the last time the teams played in 2009.
Rockwood at Blacklick Valley: The Vikings are set to make their debut under the lights and are coming off their 42-7 victory at Meyersdale which saw senior running back Johnny Sheesley tally 254 yards with three touchdowns to lead the way.
When they defeated United on Saturday, the Rockets got their first season-opening victory since their 2006 12-6 overtime win against Berlin.
Luke Brancato led the way for Rockwood with five receptions for 183 yards and three touchdown passes. He also rushed for 115 yards and another score.
The teams last played in 2009 with the Vikings getting by the Rockets 16-13.
Shade at Conemaugh Township: Both squads are looking to rebound from Week 1 setbacks. The Panthers fell 20-6 to Windber and the Indians were thumped 41-6 by Berlin Brothersvalley.
Brock Medva’s 65-yard touchdown pass from Cody Kiser was Shade’s only touchdown against the Ramblers. The Indians, who played without running back/linebacker Tanner Cahill because of an injury, scored their only touchdown on a 4-yard Bruno Rosa pass to Ken Domonkos.
The Indians were 48-7 winners in the last meeting between in the two in 2009.
Meyersdale at Windber: The Red Raiders fell to Blacklick Valley 42-7 while the Ramblers powered past Shade in Week 1.
Gavin Berkley rushed for 92 yards on 26 carries and quarterback Lance Leydig connected with Cole Clark for Meyersdale’s lone touchdown, a 45-yard hookup.
Dan Tomlinson rushed for two Windber scores and Devon Tomlinson threw to Trevor Neri for the other Windber touchdown against the Panthers.
The Ramblers won the high-scoring clash between the two in 2009, 46-34.
Northern Cambria at Homer-Center: Both teams opened the 2012 season with victories. The Colts stunned highly-touted Penns Manor 28-20 while the Homer-Center Wildcats snapped a school-record 10-game losing streak with a 28-7 win at Saltsburg.
Colts’ quarterback Jeff Hogan had a 12 for 19 passing night for 148 yards, throwing for a pair of touchdowns and running for two more including the gamewinner. Jared Nealey rushed for 109 yards, had 71 yards through the air, scored three touchdowns and had an interception for the Wildcats.
The Colts won last year’s meeting 35-6.
United at Ligonier Valley: The Lions never led in their 31-7 loss to Rockwood Saturday while the Rams held a 40-0 halftime advantage against Purchase Line on the way to a 47-0 win.
Sophomore Tyler Oliver rushed for 98 yards on 24 carries in the loss to the Rockets. Ryan Torrance, the area’s leading returning rusher from last season, led the way for the Rams with 66 yards on nine carries, but Ligonier Valley had a total of 13 players with at least one carry.
The Rams claimed last season’s 27-6 win over the Lions.
Carrick at Chestnut Ridge: Both squads are trying to bounce back after losses in their respective season openers with the Raiders being blanked 40-0 by District 10 power Grove City while the Lions dropped a 51-20 decision to Central.
Ridge quarterback Beau Bosch rushed for one score and threw for a score to Ben Pick while Matt Wiley added a touchdown against the Scarlet Dragons.
The teams have never met before.
Conemaugh Valley at Penns Manor: The Blue Jays and Comets last met in 1992, the year Conemaugh Valley finished with a 10-2 record, advancing into the state playoffs before losing 14-7 to Smethport.
In Week 1 action, Conemaugh Valley got a no-decision in its game against Ferndale. The Blue Jays were leading 40-18 with 7:35 left in the third quarter when the game was postponed due to a weather-related delay. Senior fullback Shane Corson led the Conemaugh Valley charge rushing for 242 yards and five touchdowns in the first half.
Meanwhile the Comets were outscored 14-6 in the fourth quarter as Northern Cambria downed Penns Manor 28-20. Quarterback Danny Ferens rushed for 155 yards on 19 carries and scored all three of the Comets’ touchdowns against Northern Cambria. He is just 125 yards from the Indiana County all-time career rushing record of 4,012 yards.
Check out who members of the sports department and gues picker Mark Richards are taking this week by reading our print or e-editions.