BY MIKE MASTOVICH
When Berlin and Meyersdale meet on the football field, the border rivalry traditionally produces a hard-fought game regardless of how the two teams are faring in the standings.
This season, both the undefeated Mountaineers and once-beaten Red Raiders are among the top teams in the WestPAC, which only enhances an already much-anticipated meeting at Meyersdale tonight.
“It’s a rivalry game. Normally you can throw records out the window with this one,” said Berlin coach Doug Paul, whose team is 7-0 and has outscored opponents 286-52. “But this year both teams are having outstanding seasons. It should be an electric atmosphere.”
Meyersdale coach Chris Schrock pointed to both tangible and intangible reasons this will be a big test for his 6-1 squad.
“It’s always a huge rivalry. Our kids are always fired up to play them and their kids are fired up to play us no matter what,” Schrock said. “I’m sure everybody understands the gravity of the situation. It’s more than bragging rights.
“Potentially,” Schrock added, “the winner of this game could be the No. 1 seed (in District 5-A) depending on how things play out in Bedford County. It’s a share of the conference title. It’s homefield advantage and at least a bye week. It’s a lot more than the backyard brawl.”
Berlin has the area’s leading rusher and only 100-point scorer in sophomore back Braden Fochtman, who has 1,252 yards, 16 touchdowns and 102 points on 112 carries. He averages 11.2 yards per carry and 178.9 a game.
“We’re going to have to stop a pretty high-powered offense,” Schrock said. “They have one of the best running backs, if not the best, in the area. The more I watch him on film, the more I’m impressed. But as the weeks have gone on, they’ve become more and more multidimensional. They have a variety of weapons they’re using.”
Berlin senior quarterback EJ Custer has thrown for 456 yards and six touchdowns. Senior Nick Stockwell has 12 receptions for 333 yards and seven touchdowns. A dozen other runners have positive yards to complement Fochtman as the Mountaineers have 2,044 rushing yards as a team, an average of 292 a game, with 30 rushing touchdowns.
“We’ve tried to make it a point that we had to get some other people involved in the offense,” Paul said. “Braden is averaging 10 or 11 yards a carry. Sometimes you fall into that trap and just give him the ball, give him the ball. If you’re going to have success in the playoffs, you have to have other kids involved in the offense.”
Meyersdale has relied on back Gavin Berkley, who ranks sixth in the area with 684 rushing yards on 95 carries. His totals might be better, but the Raiders have only played six games on the field due to a forfeit win over Ferndale.
Meyersdale has gained 1,472 yards on the ground, an average of 210.3 a game, and scored 23 rushing touchdowns.
The Red Raiders’ defense, led by Berkley’s 60 tackles, has helped Meyersdale post a 215-81 scoring advantage over opponents.
“Three big things jump out at me,” Paul said of Meyersdale. “No. 1 is their physical size. They’re big. They’re like a Division III football team. Their offensive line averages 250 pounds. The second thing that jumps out on me is their defense. They’re a really aggressive, get-at-it defense. Their kids fly to the ball and will hit you. The third thing that jumps out is Gavin Berkley. He runs hard. I don’t know if we’ve seen a back like him all year.”
Schrock is counting on Berkley and company to carry a big load.
“Our offense has to stay on the field,” Schrock said. “We need to be able to go on long drives and possess the ball. Keep the ball out of their hands. That might end up being our best defense, a ball-control offense that can eat the clock.”
BY MIKE MASTOVICH
- High School Sports
McCort pitcher wins May Award
Bishop McCort High School’s Brad Coleman earned the May Point Stadium Award nomination based on his performance in a District 6 Class A playoff victory on May 22.
Coleman pitched a seven-inning, complete game in a 7-2 win over Homer-Center in the 6-A semifinal round. With the win, McCort clinched its fourth consecutive state tournament playoff berth.
Richland pole vaulter decides on Red Flash
Maddison Feather has sailed to great heights throughout her scholastic career at Richland High School.
Feather – a pole vaulter – takes away a District 6 title and an appearance in the PIAA championship meet from her senior season with the Rams.
Area players get PHSBCA nods
Brad Coleman and Alex Sobecky were part of an amazing four-year run by the Bishop McCort High School baseball team.
Jack Shirk is an underclassman who stood out on a Richland squad that also has been one of the best in the LHAC in recent seasons.
Cory Isenberg | Big numbers posted all around in Lantzy game
The South’s 48-18 victory over the North in Friday night’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game was an entertaining evening of football for the reported crowd of close to 4,500 at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
The point total for the Rebels equaled the output of the South squad in the 30th edition of the game but is behind the 51 scored by the Yankees in the 1992 contest and the 50 points tallied by the South in the 39th game.
Local stars shine in Ken Lantzy Finest 40 game
While the Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game brings football standouts from across the region to Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium, Friday night’s contest took on a distinct Richland flavor as the South toppled the North 48-18 in the 44th edition of the summer football contest.
Former coach honored for long service
The venerable Jerry Page, former coach of Laurel Valley, always preached that football was so much more than just a game.
Page, whose son Greg of Homer-Center was the North squad coach Friday at the 44th Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game, was honored prior to the start of the game.
North offense shows big gains during Lantzy practices
As the North offense prepared for tonight’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game at Trojan Stadium on the campus of Greater Johnstown High School, tightening up issues with timing and terminology was at the top of the unit’s to-do list.
If the North’s offense takes the field and operates with machine-like precision tonight, it can thank the intersquad scrimmage on Tuesday as the breakthrough point of the group’s progress during the week.
Three quality quarterbacks bolster South’s chances in Lantzy Game
The South squad has an impressive arsenal of offensive talent on hand for Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game, set for 7 p.m. at Trojan Stadium.
The Rebels have three skilled quarterbacks on the roster who have combined for nearly 5,000 yards passing and another 2,000 yards on the ground.
South changes defense after last year’s loss
After being thrashed 41-7 last year by the North, the South is hoping to rise again as it prepares for Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star Game set for 7 p.m. at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
On defense, those plans will evolve around the change in defensive schemes that has been instituted with teams now required to run a 4-3.
North defense happy to get back to contact as Lantzy game approaches
It’s been a while since organized live contact on the football field has been a concern for anyone suiting up to play in Friday’s Ken Lantzy Finest 40 All-Star game at Greater Johnstown’s Trojan Stadium.
Talking to members of the North defensive unit, that long wait came with a satisfying end on Monday when teams went into contact drills in the week-long preparations for the 44th edition of the region’s football showcase.
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- McCort pitcher wins May Award