Penn Cambria’s 4-4 defense is intended to create opportunities for the Panthers’ two junior inside linebackers.
Through six weeks, the tandem of Mac Behe and Devin Lawhead has been a big hit in Cresson. Actually, Penn Cambria opponents have had plenty of close encounters with Behe and Lawhead.
“Defensively, by design, we try to keep those guys as free as we can because they both fly to the football with intensity,” said veteran Penn Cambria coach Ernie Fetzer. “They're both athletic kids. We scheme it so those two kids can make plays.”
Behe leads The Tribune-Democrat coverage area with 84 tackles.
Lawhead and Conemaugh Township junior linebacker Tanner Cahill are tied for second with 78 stops each.
As a team, Penn Cambria (5-1) has held opponents to 14 or fewer points five times, with three of those in single digit scoring. The lone blip was a 34-8 loss at undefeated Johnstown in Week 2.
This week Behe, Lawhead and their defensive teammates will be tested by Forest Hills
(5-1), a team that has been punishing opponents through the air and on the ground the past five weeks. The Rangers defense is among the area’s best, too.
“Anytime a game like this happens, you always enjoy it,” Fetzer said. “Forest Hills presents a great challenge. There are a lot of kids who grow up and go through high school football and never play in big games. We have a big game this week.”
Behe, who is 6-foot-2,180 pounds, and Lawhead, 6-2, 205, most likely will be in the mix. Behe had 13 tackles last week against Cambria Heights, made 18 stops against Somerset, and 17 against Bishop Guilfoyle.
He has two sacks.
Lawhead has made 16 tackles in three of the past four games.
He has a sack, an interception and a blocked punt against Bishop Carroll.
“Overall, we have some nice team speed. We go to the football,” Fetzer said. “Part of it is a combination of athleticism and kids who really enjoy playing defense.”
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at @masty81.