After a little fourth-quarter magic last week against Somerset, third-ranked Richland remains on course for an unbeaten regular season with an eye on the looming postseason.
The Rams (6-0) have rolled to 209 points over the last four weeks, surviving the Golden Eagles 28-24 win in Week 6 with a last-minute touchdown after trailing Somerset for most of the game in a matchup of unbeatens in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
With a trip across town to Westmont Hilltop (0-6) this afternoon, the Rams finish the season with dates with Penn Cambria in Week 8, followed by Central Cambria before a finale with Bellwood-Antis.
Kickoff today is set for 1 p.m. In other area action, Blacklick Valley visits Ferndale – which returns to the field after a two-week hiatus due to numbers – at 1 p.m., while Cambria Heights makes the trip to Loretto for a LHAC matchup with Bishop Carroll. Kickoff at St. Francis is at 7.
Failure to keep early momentum has haunted the Hilltoppers all season, as they were able to stay with Bishop McCort last Saturday before having a pair of deep first-half drives stalled by interceptions in a
55-20 loss to the Crushers. Bigger problems will loom for the Westmont today, as Rams quarterback Matt Shaffer has completed 74 of 125 passes for 1,255 yards and 18 touchdowns. In the backfield, Tanner Solarczyk has 797 yards and 11 TDs on 86 carries facing a team that has had trouble stopping the big play.
Kyle Flick lead the Rams’ receivers with 26 catches for 529 yards and 15 scores.
The Hilltoppers are led offensively by duo Sam Curry and Liam Moran, who both are used in a slash-type role. Moran has been more of the passer, completing 52 of 95 passes for 675 yards and six TDs. Curry has rushed for 625 yards and five scores on 125 carries this season, Moran has carried the ball 58 ties 153 yards and two TDs. Westmont’s leading receiver is Colin Barron, who has 29 grabs for 397 yards and five scores entering today’s game against the Rams.
Defensively, Jacob Urban is a force with the Rams with 68 tackles, followed by 46 from Elijah Metzgar and 44 from Jared Hoover. Barron leads Westmont with 48 stops, as the Hilltoppers have four others with 30-plus tackles through six weeks.
Blacklick Valley (0-5)
at Ferndale (0-5)
In a really strange twist of things in the WestPac this year, both the Knights and Yellow Jackets enter the seventh week of the season playing only five games.
The Vikings, who didn’t play in Week 2 due to Rockwood dropping its season before the start, have given up at least 40 points per game in their five contests. Last week, they fell to Portage 43-12.
Blake Ray leads Blacklick Valley in passing, completing 15 of 37 passes for 236 yards and two TDs in four games. Garrett Smith and Isaiah Scott have shared the bulk of the work in the backfield, as Smith has gained 348 yards on 81 carries with a TD. Scott has ruhsed for 288 yards on 60 carries and a score entering today’s game against Ferndale. Smith is also the Vikings’ top receiver with 7 grabs for 115 yards.
Luke Galko is Blacklick Valley’s leading tackler with 50 stops. Rayce Lanzendorfer has 34 tackles through the Vikings’ five games.
Today’s game will mark the first time that Ferndale will return to the field since Sept. 20, when the Yellow Jackets had to call the game at halftime against Shade due to only having 11 healthy players left. The Panthers were awarded the 26-0 victory. Last week, the Yellow Jackets forfeited to Meyersdale 2-0.
Cambria Heights (1-5)
at Bishop Carroll (3-3)
After a quick 3-1 start with big wins over Bishop McCort, Forest Hills and Penn Cambria, the Huskies are fighting for a playoff spot tonight when they host the Highlanders, who have lost four straight.
Tyler Janosik continues to be the workhorse for the Huskies on the ground with 513 yards and six TDs on 107 carries. Janosik has made 54 stops on defense, while Carroll has 40-plus tacklers in the trio of Kenny Weiland (43) Alex Keim (42) and Marty Lessard (41).
Josh Fees is the man the Highlanders have counted on this season, as the senior running back has racked up 542 yards on 101 carries, and has scored four touchdowns. Senior quarterback Rich Legros’ favorite target has been classmate Shawn Lacue, who has five grabs for 98 yards and a score.
Senior Isaac Sclesky leads the Heights defensive unit with 71 tackles, followed by junior Clayton Schinkle’s 44 stops.