The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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HS Sports North Star

November 1, 2012

Friday preview: Battle of unbeatens highlights slate

JOHNSTOWN — Coaches and football players know better than to glimpse too far down the schedule, or worse yet, overlook an opponent.

Both Richland coach Brandon Bailey and Bellwood-Antis coach John Hayes admitted that sometimes they couldn’t help but think about their Week 10 date on the calendar.

“We’re real excited,” said Bailey, whose Rams are 9-0 and Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference champions for the first time. “We looked at this game since back in August.”

Hayes’ Blue Devils have also run the table through nine weeks in the Inter-County League.

“It’s a great challenge,” said the veteran Bellwood coach with 275 career wins. “It’s a great opportunity. The kids have kind of pointed towards this for a while and tried not to overlook anybody else. But as the season progressed we could see it coming. Hopefully we can play up to the challenge.”

Bellwood is ranked 10th in the state by The Harrisburg Patriot-News and third in Class A by Pennsylvania Football News. The Patriot News has Richland as a team to watch in Class AA, and PFN ranked the Rams seventh in the state.

“We’ve been fortunate to win all of our games,” Bailey said. “We’re both 9-0. We both already have wrapped up No. 1 seeds. A lot of people are saying will you rest your starters? Absolutely not.”

Richland (1,280 points) is 330 points in front of Central-Martinsburg, its nearest competitor in the District 6 Class AA rankings through nine weeks. Likewise, Bellwood (1,410) is 260 better than second-ranked Portage in 6-A.

“To play a good team like Richland, you’re going to get an idea of just where you stand one way or another,” Hayes said. “We’re fortunate in that both of us pretty much locked up our position in the seedings in the playoffs. I don’t think anybody is going to get hurt from a standpoint of a loss. It’s good competition. It should help both teams as we move forward.”

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