Bishop Guilfoyle accomplished something not many believed possible during last week’s win against Cambria Heights. The Marauders significantly hampered the Highlanders’ high-powered run game.
Don’t be surprised if Bishop Guilfoyle’s blueprint for defensive success is copied by other members of the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference when going against Cambria Heights.
“We used a six-man defensive line and really put the pressure on our defensive backs,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. “We matched up our (defensive) backs man-to-man and had our defensive line fill the gaps. We forced them to throw.”
The Marauders limited the Cambria Heights backfield to 102 rushing yards during a 17-7 victory that raised their record to 2-1.
As effective as the defense proved, it will be scrapped this week at Forest Hills (2-1), which rebounded from a turnover-filled loss to Bishop McCort in Week 2 with an impressive 27-0 win over Bishop Carroll last week.
“Forest Hills is so balanced. They’re a football team that ran very well the first two weeks and threw well the last game,” Wheeler said. “We won’t be in a goal-line defense. We’ll have to try and stop the run with four or five guys up front.”
No matter what defense Bishop Guilfoyle uses against Forest Hills in this key LHAC game, the Rangers know it will be a formidable unit.
“They have good size and good speed and they go to the ball well,” Forest Hills coach Don Bailey said. “We knew before that game they were a good defense. We knew watching them scrimmage that they would give teams problems. They’ll probably give us problems.”
Bishop McCort forced Forest Hills into four turnovers in Week 2, but Bailey is more concerned with the Rangers’ run game. Bishop Carroll held Forest Hills to 81 yards rushing last week. Of course, with quarterback Joe Donoughe, who has thrown for an area-best 545 yards, and the receiving tandem of Jared Shope and Doltyn Snedden has proven difficult to stop.
“I feel we’re making progress each week, but we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Bailey said. “We’ve got to improve along the offensive line and we’ve got to run better. I’m pleased with the way we’ve thrown it, but we’ve got to run better.”
Both teams are one game behind a trio of unbeaten teams – Penn Cambria, Richland and Somerset – in the LHAC standings.
Tonight’s game may not make or break the playoff chances for Class AA Forest Hills or Class A Bishop Guilfoyle – a team Bailey predicts will be a conference power for several years – it could significantly hurt chances of winning a LHAC championship.
“Eight teams make the playoffs in double-S, and we want to be one of those eight teams,” Bailey said. “This game is very important because they’re are very few teams with undefeated records and chances are they’re won’t be many at the end of the season. You want to be one of the top seeds in the playoffs, not just get in.”
The Rangers won 49-14 in last season’s matchup.
Want to know which teams are expected to win this weekend? Check our "Beat the 'experts' " segment in print and e-editions of The Tribune-Democrat.
Bedford at Bishop McCort: The Bisons (0-3) are seeking their first win and lost to Richland, 62-14, last week, while the Crimson Crushers (2-1) are looking to bounce back after their first loss – a 19-13 setback to Somerset.
Aaron Henry and Matt Kline scored Bedford’s touchdowns against the Rams, the most points the Bisons have scored in a game this season. Quarterback Zaine Tomkowski had a hand in both McCort touchdowns against Somerset, passing to Wyatt Jackson for one and rushing for the other.
The Crushers edged the Bisons 27-24 last year.
Central Cambria at Cambria Heights: The Red Devils (0-3) have scored just six points all season, while the Highlanders (1-2) are striving for consistency. Last week, Central Cambria was shut out 38-0 by Penn Cambria and Cambria Heights was surprised 17-7 by Bishop Guilfoyle.
Quarterback Will Seymour is 19 of 56 passing for 282 yards with Brandon Long the leading receiver with seven catches for 146 yards for Central Cambria.
Tyler Crawford has rushed for 213 yards on 38 carries and Donnie Contorchick has 161 yards on 27 carries for Cambria Heights.
The Highlanders were 28-6 victors in 2011.
Bishop Carroll at Penn Cambria: Last week, Bishop Carroll (0-3) was shut out by Forest Hills, while Penn Cambria (3-0) shut out Central Cambria. The Panthers already have two shutouts and allowed seven points on the season.
Quarterback David Maruca is 22 of 49 passing for 415 yards. Dan Lesney leads Bishop Carroll in receiving with three catches for 100 yards while Marty Lessard has rushed for 111 yards on 32 carries.
Penn Cambria’s stout defense is led by Devin Lawhead with 34 tackles, including 21 solos and Mack Behe, who has 31 tackles with 23 solo stops and three quarterback sacks.
The Panthers shut out the Huskies 28-0 last season.
Greater Johnstown at Richland: The Trojans (2-1) have won two straight, but have scored only 35 points, including 20 in a narrow victory over Westmont last week. The Rams (3-0) have scored 100 more points than Johnstown.
Deion Moore leads the Trojans with 211 yards on 21 carries.
Tanner Solarczyk has rushed for 369 yards on 36 carries and two touchdowns for Richland, which has two quarterbacks, Matt Shaffer and Nico Pecora, who are close to 80 percent in accuracy in passing. Receiver Kyle Flick has 20 catches for 417 yards and has scored seven TDs.
The Rams won 35-27 in 2011.
Blacklick Valley at Windber: Blacklick Valley (3-0) and Windber (3-0) are two of three unbetean teams remaining in the WestPAC.
The Vikings beat Purchase Line 27-13 last week and the Ramblers belted Rockwood, 42-7. Blacklick Valley is off to its first 3-0 start since 2004, while Windber started 3-0 last year.
Johnny Sheesley has rushed for 530 yards on 58 carries for the Vikings.
Four players are contributing heavily to Windber’s single-wing offense, led by Trevor Neri, who has 173 yards on 17 carries.
The Ramblers belted the Vikings 48-14 last year.
Rockwood at Conemaugh Township: The Rockets and Indians are both struggling and have 1-2 marks. Rockwood fell to Windber, 42-7, while Township, which saw the return of running back Tanner Cahill, tallied its first victory of the season, 35-20, at Meyersdale last week.
Luke Brancato has led the way for Rockwood offensively. Township quarterback Bruno Rosa has thrown for 372 yards going 30 of 51 with Ken Domonkos his leading target. Domonkos has 218 yards on 18 recepetions.
The Indians were 50-21 winners last season.
Meyersdale at Portage: The Red Raiders (0-3) are putting points on the board (46) but are struggling on defense, giving up 126. The Mustangs (2-1) bounced back after a Week 2 setback with a 35-14 victory over Shade.
Gavin Berkley rushed for 198 yards on 15 carries for Meyersdale against the Indians.
For the year, Scott Giles has rushed for 206 yards on 22 carries and Caleb Kephart has 201 yards on 13 carries for Portage.
The Red Raiders prevailed 35-34 last year.
Ligonier Valley at Marion Center: The Rams (3-0) allowed their first points of the season in a 49-15 win over Blairsville, while the Stingers (1-2) fell to Homer-Center, 28-12.
Ryan Torrance has accrued 458 yards on 46 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Connor Maust has added 20 carries for 249 yards. Quarterback Scott Fennell is 12 of 20 passing for 225 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Marion Center is averaging 158.7 yards rushing and 94.7 passing per game.
The Rams shut out the Stingers 34-0 last season.
Blairsville at Northern Cambria: The Bobcats (2-1) suffered their first loss of the season last week, falling to Ligonier Valley while the Colts (2-1) shut out United.
Sophomore quarterback Scott Thompson has passed for 536 yards (22 of 55) and leads Blairsville in rushing with 178 yards on 42 carries with five touchdowns.
Derek Baker scored two touchdowns while Dartagnan Suchar and Joe Frontino eached rushed for one for Northern Cambria, which also got a touchdown pass from Jeff Hogan to Adam Polites.
The Bobcats had the upper hand in 2011 in a 24-9 victory.
Penns Manor at United: The Comets (2-1) have not been tested since Week 1 and face the winless Lions, who were shutout at Northern Cambria last week – their second straight scoreless game.
Quarterback Danny Ferens has already wracked up 450 yards rushing on 41 carries and is 13 of 25 passing for 210 yards for Penns Manor.
United had 32 total yards on offense against the Colts and have scored just seven points thus far this season while yielding 130 points.
The Comets claimed the 50-6 victory last year.
Chestnut Ridge at Bald Eagle Area: The Lions (1-2) head back on the road again and will try to rebound after being held scoreless by Berks Catholic. The Bald Eagles (3-0) edged Penns Valley by a point, 21-20.
Ridge is scoring around 19 points per game and have yielded close to 37 a game while the Eagles are averaging 30 points per game on offense and are giving up about 15 a contest.
The teams last played in 2002, a 14-6 victory for the Bald Eagles.
Saltsburg at North Star: The Trojans (0-3) were crushed by Penns Manor, 41-0, last week while the Cougars (2-1) dumped Conemaugh Valley 43-7.
The Trojans have tallied just 21 points this season while giving up 89.
Thomas Miller has gained 286 yards on 55 carries for North Star while Tony Strasiser has 10 receptions for 109 yards and is 8 of 11 passing for 144 yards.
The teams last played in 1992, a 30-0 Trojans’ victory.