The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

HS Sports North Star

September 15, 2012

Miller leads North Star to win

BOSWELL — The North Star Cougars hosted the Conemaugh Valley Blue Jays on Friday night hoping to extend their winning streak to two games.

The Cougars had dropped their season opener against Portage two weeks ago and rebounded with a win against Ferndale last week.

Meanwhile the Blue Jays entered the match against the Cougars still looking for their first win of the season after losing to Penns Manor last week, and only playing half of a game (due to weather) in Week 1.

North Star won 42-7 to improve to 2-1 while the Jays fell to 0-2.

The Cougars didn't waste any time putting points on the board, as senior Tony Strasiser returned the opening kickoff 85 yards.

Fellow senior Brantley Rice booted the extra point to put North Star up 7-0 only 12 seconds into the game.

It appeared as if Blue Jays were going to respond quickly, as freshman running back Brandon Galasso broke off a 55-yard rush on the first play from scrimmage following the ensuing kickoff. But when faced with fourth-and-15 later in the drive, Valley senior fullback Shane Corson was unable to find any running room and the Blue Jays gave North Star the ball back on downs.

“We played very disciplined football and didn't make those mental mistakes we have in the past,” North Star coach Stacy Schmitt said.

Valley again appeared poised to tie the game a few possessions later when Corson ripped of a tackle-breaking 19-yard run to set the Blue Jays up at the Cougars 15-yard-line, but the offense stalled out again after Jays senior quarterback Xavier Butts was sacked on second and third down by Cougars senior defensemen Brady Shroyer and Rusty Miller, respectively.  

A 15-yard catch on fourth down by senior tight end Nick Roberts wasn't enough to erase the yards lost on a penalty following the sacks.

Both teams' defenses played effectively the rest of the first quarter, as neither team would find the end zone until mid-way through the second when Strasiser found the end zone again on a 1-yard touchdown run after receiving the direct snap from center.

Strasiser added the two-point conversion on a similar run from the same formation.

Schmitt said that his team had been working on the special plays in practice all week and that they were excited to see if they would work or not.

The Blue Jays wouldn't see much success from there on out as the stout defense of the Cougars pressured Butts into several sacks, missed passes, and hurried plays.

"We raised the intensity that we were playing with all game and kept coming up with good results," Schmitt said.

The Cougars struck twice more in the last 1:09 of the second quarter, with Rice scoring on a short inside rush and junior tight end Shane Supanik scoring on a screen pass from Strasiser with 14 seconds remaining in the half.

"Our tight end, Shane Supanik played really well today, taking those screen passes, he doesn't get the ball much but he looked really good with the ball in his hands," Strasiser said.

The third quarter saw Conemaugh Valley once again have its offense pressured, and managed to cross over into Cougar territory, only to have Butts and Corson stopped behind the line of scrimmage on two consecutive plays before failing to convert fourth and long.  

North Star junior running back Thomas Miller did most of the inside running on the following possession, ripping off runs of 11, 6, 15, and 26 yards, the last of which being an impressive touchdown run in which he managed to break several tackles.

The third quarter ended with North Star up 36-0 on the Blue Jays.

The Jays managed to put points on the board when junior running back Corey Kalinyak scored on a 12-yard run midway through the fourth, with the extra point being good giving the Jays a 7-0 lead.

Shawn Costas added a late game touchdown to set the final score.

Strasiser finished the game with impressive scoring stats, having had a kickoff return touchdown, a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown, and a two-point conversion.

“Tony is a very good player, and we knew that any time you get the ball in his hands, good things happen,” Schmitt said.

Valley coach Winston Redman declined a full interview after the game, but did say that his team needed to get back to work and improve themselves.

North Star continues its season next week at home against Saltsburg while Conemaugh Valley will pick up where it left off in the third quarter of the game against Ferndale on Tuesday.


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