The fact that Forest Hills posted a 19-point victory in its season opener on the road, and Bishop McCort lost at home, probably won’t mean much tonight.
The Rangers and Crushers traditionally play each other tough.
The LHAC rivals will meet at G.H. Miller Stadium in Sidman with one team looking to maintain momentum and the other hoping to rebound.
“It should be a pretty big atmosphere,” Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said. “We were fortunate enough to win the opener. They were unfortunate and they lost the opener. They will be pretty hungry coming into the game. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”
Forest Hills overcame an early eight-point deficit to beat Westmont Hilltop 40-21 on Saturday afternoon at Price Field.
The Hilltoppers consistently moved the ball on the Rangers, using both the single wing to run for a net 183 yards and an effective aerial attack that produced 116 yards. While the defense gave up significant yardage, the Rangers were more stingy when it came to allowing points.
“Forest Hills is a team that prides itself on being strong tacklers,” said McCort coach Kevin Sheridan, whose team fell 13-3 to Bishop Carroll at Point Stadium. “The secondary from Forest Hills always seems to be strong in run support and this year seems to be no different.”
McCort led 3-0 after a Braden Junker 42-yard field goal. But Carroll scored the next 13, with the last touchdown via Alex Repko’s 38-yard interception return.
The Crushers defense was solid, but the offense produced only 71 total yards and didn’t pick up McCort’s initial first down until 10:16 of the fourth quarter.
“Bishop McCort played some very good defense. Bishop Carroll is a much-improved team and they’ve got a lot of talent,” Bailey said. “We know that Bishop McCort is a talented team and they didn’t play up to their expectations in their opener. We know we’re going to see a better McCort team on Friday.”
McCort will see a lot of Rangers quarterback Joe Donoughe, who passed for 127 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 123 yards and three scores. Forest Hills collected 234 rushing yards against Hilltop.
“Their offensive attack starts with the quarterback,” Sheridan said.
“He’s a dual threat. He shows the ability to run the football and make people miss in the open field. He’s an accurate passer, especially on the run. Combine that with a strong running attack and you have your hands full.”
The teams are 9-9 against each other since 1995. The Rangers are 3-2 against McCort in the postseason in that span.
Greater Johnstown at Central Cambria
First-year Central Cambria coach Bill Corrente hopes his Red Devils can slow down a Johnstown team coming off a 28-7 victory over Penn Cambria.
Johnstown sophomore quarterback Jeremy Updyke completed passes to five different receivers while going 9 of 15 for 188 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Receiver Willie Robinson caught three passes for 90 yards and two TDs.
“Johnstown has team speed. We don’t have that kind of speed so it’s hard to match up in terms of overall team speed,” Corrente said. “They’re big up front. They’re well-coached. They’re just exceptional in terms of speed.
“They have success throwing the ball. They have two great wideouts,” he added. “If you let them get behind you, they’re going to have success. You just can’t isolate on one guy.”
Central Cambria played a veteran Somerset team close before falling 28-6 on the road. The Golden Eagles led 14-6 at halftime.
“They played very well against a tough Somerset team,” Johnstown coach Tony Penna Jr. said. “Coach Corrente has them flying around on both sides of the ball. He’s a sharp football coach with plenty of experience. It’s always tough going up there to play and we expect Friday night to be no different.”
The Devils upset Johnstown in 2010 (14-13) and 2011 (7-6) and were close last season (15-6).
“Our league always comes down to match ups. They’ve always matched up well wiith us,” Penna said. “They played very well against us all three years I’ve been there. We expect no different this time.”
Bedford at Penn Cambria
Bedford made a season-opening statement with a 13-10 victory over visiting Bishop Guilfoyle.
Bisons quarterback Austin Mongomery’s 47-yard run four minutes into the final quarter was the game-winner.
Guilfoyle held Bedford to only three offensive plays in the third quarter to hold a 10-6 advantage.
Penn Cambria looks to get new head coach Jason Grassi his first win while improving an offense that produced 79 yards and had three turnovers against Johnstown.
Somerset at Bishop Carroll
Veteran Somerset quarterback Tanner Stull lived up to expectations while throwing for two touchdowns and running for a pair in the win over Central Cambria.
The Golden Eagles defensive effort helped Somerset overcome three turnovers.
Bishop Carroll already equaled its 2012 win total with its victory over McCort. The Huskies limited the Crushers to 7 first-half yards.
Tyler Janosik’s 1-yard touchdown with a minute left in the first half was the game’s only offensive touchdown.
Westmont Hilltop at Cambria Heights
Westmont’s Sam Curry rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries, and quarterback Liam Moran completed 8 of 13 passes for 116 yards.
Colin Barron had a big performance with five receptions for 85 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown with a Rangers defender draped on him.
The Highlanders ran into preseason LHAC favorite Richland at Herlinger Field, and the Rams put up 48 points while holding Heights to 7.
Sophomore fullback Dylan Link had a game-high 98 yards for Heights. Josh Fees gained 59 yards in the first half but sat out the second half due to an injury.
Richland at Bishop Guilfoyle
Richland had multiple playmakers on offense and a stingy defense in its one-sided win.
Quarterback Matt Shaffer threw for 198 yards and four touchdowns to four different receivers. He ran 73 yards for another score.
Kyle Flick caught three passes for 109 yards.
Guilfoyle will regroup after falling at Bedford.
The Marauders led late against the Bisons but couldn’t contain Montgomery.
Portage at Berlin
Two conference heavyweights will meet in a pivotal early-season marquee match up at the Snyder of Berlin Athletic Complex.
“It’s your typical Portage football team. They're very well coached,” Berlin coach Doug Paul said. “Their passing game is a whole different element you have to prepare for this year. They base everything out of the wing-T but they’ve added a few twists.
“(Quarterback Michael) Bryja is a big, tall quarterback and he made some great reads,” Paul added. “That’s a whole new element. Usually you load up the box and try to shut down the run game. Now you have to be ready for the passing game.”
Portage still can run. Luke Dividock had 111 yards on 10 carries in a 41-0 romp over visiting North Star. Junior Caleb Kephart ranked seventh in the area with 1,195 rushing yards last season. He missed last season’s 20-7 Week 2 setback to the Mountaineers because of an ejection the previous week.
“Same scenario as last year,” Portage coach Gary Gouse said of the meeting of 1-0 squads. “We’re glad that Caleb can go and play this year. We haven’t played down there in a long time. It’s a tough place to play.
“They have a good football program. We had a hard-fought battle last year. They had an outstanding team and we learned from that. We have a lot of respect for what they do and how they do it. We think this is a very pivotal game for the WestPAC. We know what’s on the line.”
Berlin sophomore Braden Fochtman rushed for 154 yards on 14 carries and scored twice in last week’s 35-13 win at Conemaugh Township. The Mountaineers ran for 305 yards, an average of 6.5 per carry.
“He’s very elusive,” Gouse said of Fochtman. “He reminds me of the running backs they’ve had in the past. He’s short, quick and fast. He moves well. He starts and stops well.”
Paul was impressed by Bryja’s 4 of 8 passing for 100 yards and two touchdowns and the Mustangs ability to utilize multiple runners.
“They can get the ball to three backs on any given play,” Paul said. “As soon as you shut down one play, they have a counter or trap coming. They keep you guessing on defense. If you get caught in the wrong zone or the wrong blitz, it’s six points. It’s a very well-coached football team.”
Conemaugh Township at Shade
Each team is coming off a Week 1 setback.
Township stayed close to Berlin early before falling by 22 points. Jake Formica had a 70-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Panthers challenged Windber on the road before falling 21-7. In the opening half, Shade ran 14 more plays and rushed for 59 more yards than Windber while chewing 17:18 of game clock, but the score was 7-all.
Tyler Kline gained 78 yards on 18 carries for Shade.
Ferndale at North Star
Points have been scarce in the early going for North Star and Ferndale.
The Cougars controlled the line of scrimmage early at Portage but had three straight turnovers in the second quarter of a lopsided 41-0 loss to Portage.
Ferndale scored one touchdown by Isaiah Sajatovich in a 40-6 setback to visiting Conemaugh Valley.
Windber at Meyersdale
Meyersdale beat Blacklick Valley for the first time since 2000 in convincing fashion, 42-3, on the road.
Windber edged Shade at home.
Meyersdale’s Gavin Berkey ran for 126 yards and three touchdowns.
Windber scored 14 second-half points to pull away from the Panthers. Quarterback Devon Tomlinson’s 30-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-3 play was a momentum changer.
Ligonier Valley at United
Ligonier overcame a slow start to dominate Purchase Line 35-0 in Week 1. The Rams led 8-0 at halftime but ran off 27 second-half points.
Alec Bloom, a 6-foot-7 Connecticut recruit, put the Rams on track with a 48-yard misdirection touchdown run in the third quarter.
United scrambled to find a new opponent after Rockwood abruptly cancelled its season five days before the opener. Bishop Canevin traveled to Armagh on Saturday afternoon and won 31-3. Five turnovers hurt United.
Homer-Center at Northern Cambria
Northern Cambria dropped a heartbreaker at Penns Manor as a potential game-winning conversion attempt was stopped in a 21-20 game.
Nolan Paronish had a 50-yard touchdown run for the Colts, Derek Baker scored from a yard out, and Dartagnan Suchar had a touchdown with 1:06 to play.
Homer-Center pounded Saltsburg 48-6.
Chestnut Ridge at Carrick
The Lions head into Pittsburgh for Week 2. Chestnut Ridge’s Beau Bosch had 21 carries for 76 yards and his team’s lone touchdown in a Week 1 loss to Central. Matt Wiley gained 43 yards and Jake Bowers had 40 in the 33-6 loss.
Carrick lost 34-12 to Grove City.
Mike Mastovich is a sports writer for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/masty81.