The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

September 12, 2013

Ligonier Valley, Blairsville clash in Week 3

First-year Blairsville head coach Rick Artley was part of the Bobcats’ staff last year entering a marquee game with Heritage Conference heavyweight Ligonier Valley.

Ligonier posted a one-sided victory during that meeting of unbeaten teams.

Artley believes the Bobcats learned from that experience and will be better equipped to face the Rams in yet another clash of 2-0 teams tonight at Blairsville.

“We knew last year we didn’t match up with them when we were both 2-0 going into it last year,” Artley said. “I think we match up a little better watching the film from last year. I hope mentally they believe they can play with them. I know last year we just couldn’t compete with them. We got blown out last year.”

Ligonier coach Roger Beitel is concerned by Blairsville’s one-two punch of playmakers in quarterback Scott Thompson and running back Deion Robinson.

“Our main concern right now is realistically that we have to try to contain them. Robinson’s speed, he’s a game-changer,” Beitel said. “You watch him on field and see a kid who can score from anywhere on the field. Last spring he won the Heritage Conference in the 100 and 200 (meter dash in track). He burned (Penns Manor’s Danny) Ferens, and we know Ferens is a great athlete.”

Robinson has 51 carries for 274 yards and four touchdowns. He averages 137 yards a game and 5.4 per carry.

Thompson stepped up when Purchase Line’s defense focused on Robinson, holding him to 82 yards in Blairsville’s 34-26 win last week. The quarterback overcame several miscues to complete 14 of 21 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for another score. Through two weeks he’s passed for 316 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

“Scotty Thompson is a big quarterback, 200 pounds,” Beitel said. “He runs the ball and throws the ball effectively. They have a two-headed monster we have to prepare for. I don’t know if you can stop them. We have to limit what they do.”

Ligonier has more than a few playmakers. Senior tight end Alec Bloom is a 6-foot-7 Division I recruit who verbally committed to UConn. Bloom leads the area with 203 receiving yards on 12 receptions. Last week he had nine catches for 138 yards, nearly all in the first half of a win against United.

Freshman Collin Smith rushed for 107 yards in his first varsity start. He had runs of 40 and 35 yards among his 10 carries.

“He’s a freshman but you get some of these kids who are freshmen who can contribute right away,” Artley said.

 “He was able to get to the outside and make a couple real nice long runs. He also does a lot on defense as a strong safety. He’s a good athlete.”

Quarterback Scott Fennell is 19 of 31 for 288 passing yards as the steady leader of the offense.

“He’s doing what I think quarterbacks should do, and that is doing whatever it takes to help the team win whether that means throwing the ball or running the ball,” Beitel said of his signal caller.

Artley noticed Ligonier’s ability to play takeaway.

“I think they’re plus-8 on the turnover battle in the first two weeks where we have turned it over six times,” Artley said. “We have to take care of the football.”

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