Sunday, November 22, 2009

NHS faces road test vs. Maroons

By CRAIG REMSBURG Senior Sports Writer

Some high school football coaches wouldn't relish playing a game at Walton Blesch Stadium in Menominee.

After all, it's an old facility surrounded by a concrete wall and the home of the perennial powerhouse Menominee Maroons.

But Negaunee High School head coach Paul Jacobson is looking forward to taking his Miners there Saturday for a 2 p.m. (EST) Division 5, District 1 championship clash with the Maroons.

"I just love playing Menominee," he said, "especially at their place with all the football heritage and tradition there.

"When you step inside those walls and the fans are on your back, it's great."

The 7-3 Miners will be taking on an 8-2 Menominee squad they beat last year in Negaunee, 14-13, in playoff action.

"I haven't brought that up to my kids," Menominee head coach Ken Hofer said. "We should have played better than we did and Negaunee took advantage of our mistakes.

"They also took care of us by running the option. We have to do a lot of work against that."

All-Upper Peninsula "Dream Team" junior guard Kyle Michaelson, senior tailback Cody Dagenais and senior quarterback Tyler Nault (if healthy) will spearhead the Negaunee offense Saturday.

Dagenais - with the help of Michaelson's blocking - averaged 5.1 yards a carry and scored nine touchdowns during the regular season.

Nault passed for 385 yards and rushed for 358 more, accounting for eight TDs overall.

Nault is nursing a high ankle sprain, however, and Jacobson said the signal-caller is "questionable" for Saturday's game.

If Nault's unable to go, junior Dan Bingel will get the call. He completed 4-of-9 passes for 39 yards in last Saturday's 30-28 Negaunee playoff win over Grayling.

The Maroons will counter with their fabled single-wing offense headed by "Dream Team" picks Brandon Colvin at guard, Erik Hines at end and Keeler Conery in the backfield. Colvin's a senior, the other two juniors.

Hines caught 38 passes for 649 yards and 10 TDs, while Conery rushed for 705 yards.

"Menominee ... can run the ball and also throw," Jacobson said. "That makes them a potent offense.

"Their single-wing comes off a 'shotgun' snap. It's almost like a spread offense, only they pack it tight and run up the middle. There's more blocking at the point of attack."

Defensively, Menominee - which beat Elk Rapids 42-15 last week to advance - features All-U.P. Class ABC selections Travis Cherney at tackle and Jordan Miller at linebacker. Cherney's a senior, Miller a junior.

Cherney made 37 tackles (nine solo) during the regular season; Miller came up with 79 (24 solo), an interception and two fumble recoveries.

"We're a pretty balanced team," Hofer said. "We try to make the same emphasis on both sides of the ball."

The Miners are led defensively by Nault and senior defensive back Nathan Alexander. Nault recorded 85 tackles and seven sacks this season; Alexander came up with 75 tackles and picked off four passes.

"The big thing will be the line of scrimmage," said Hofer, now in his 43rd year of coaching. "They have some big linemen and we have to control their big people up front.

"We'll have to 'outquick' them as much as we can.

Jacobson said the Maroons' single-wing offense won't be a complete mystery to his Miners.

"We've played (the Maroons) in the lower levels and played against Grayling's shotgun last week. It's similar to Menominee's (offense)," he said.

The Negaunee-Menominee victor will play the winner of Saturday's Pinconning-Clare matchup in state regional play.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Stone Bridge returns to region finals

By Dan Sousa
Source: Special to the Loudoun Times-Mirror

For the Stone Bridge High football team, revenge was a side dish Nov. 20 as the Bulldogs turned the tables on Madison, the only team to defeat them this season.

The main course for the host Bulldogs was a complete performance on both sides of the ball, which led to a dominating 27-8 victory over the Warhawks in the Northern Region Division 5 semifinals.

And the game wasn't even as close as the final score indicates. Stone Bridge (11-1) did not allow Madison (7-5) to cross midfield until a final drive against the Bulldog second defensive unit. Stone Bridge junior Marcus Harris rushed for more than a 100 yards in the first half and finished with 171 yards on 28 carries, breaking the school's single-season rushing mark along the way.

"We have just been waiting to play well on both sides of the ball and special teams and this was the night we finally put it together," Stone Bridge coach Mickey Thompson said. "I don't think we can play any better than we what we played tonight."

All of this adds up to an incredible eighth consecutive trip to the regional finals. The Bulldogs will host Robert E. Lee for the region championship Nov. 27 at 1:30 p.m.

"Our season starts in the playoffs. A lot of other teams, it's a big thing to make the playoffs. But it's normal here," Stone Bridge senior lineman Mitchell Freitas said. "We've done this before, it's nothing new. We've come alive."

While Madison had defeated Stone Bridge a month ago, 28-14, by controlling the line of scrimmage, it was a different story Friday.

Stone Bridge, which was running a spread offense half the time in the first meeting, stuck exclusively to the single-wing and Harris, off a great angled snap from center Kyle Wrenn, cut back the fifth Bulldog snap of the night and was into the secondary before most people on the field could find him and he sprinted untouched 56 yards for the first score.

Later in the game, Harris broke Devon Brown's school record of 1,745 rushing yards in a season. Harris now has 1,768 and counting.

"It feels real good for my name to be put up there with some of the top running backs that have come out of here," Harris said.

While it was a different Stone Bridge offense Friday, it was also a different Stone Bridge defense as the Bulldogs bunched the line of scrimmage and stuffed the Warhawk running attack.

After picking up two first downs on the opening drive of the game, Madison failed to move the chains on its next seven possessions and didn't get another first down until less than five minutes remained in the game and Stone Bridge leading comfortably, 27-0.

With the run game mired, the Warhawks couldn't pass against the Bulldogs, going just 4 of 15 for 24 yards and Stone Bridge corner Dexter Rogers intercepted a pass.

Kyle Gouveia added 70 yards rushing and two short touchdown dives, including one on the first drive of the second half to make it 21-0. Abdul Shaban added two field goals to pad the lead.

Northern Region Division 5 semifinal
Stone Bridge 27, Madison 8

First Quarter
SB: Harris 56 run (Shaban kick) 5:49 (drive: 5 plays, 82 yards, 2:12)

Second Quarter
SB: Gouveia 1 run (Shaban kick) 10:11 (drive: 11 plays, 55 yards, 5:48)

Third Quarter
SB: Gouveia 1 run (Shaban kick) 8:51 (drive: 8 plays, 60 yards, 3:09)
SB: Shaban 24 field goal 0:57 (drive: 14 plays, 73 yards, 6:43)

Fourth Quarter
SB: Shaban 35 field goal 5:27 (drive: 13 plays, 52 yards, 6:22)
M: Roland 32 run (Powers from Roland) 1:51 (drive: 10 plays, 66 yards, 3:36)

Inidividual leaders

Rushing: M-Roland (5 for 41 yards, TD); SB-Harris (28 for 171 yards, TD), Gouveia (13 for 70 yards, 2 TD)

Passing: M-Roland (4 of 15 for 24 yards, Int.); SB-Rody (2 of 3 for 34 yards)

Receiving: M-Powers (2 for 19 yards); SB-Harris (1 for 20 yards), White (1 for 14 yards)


Friday, November 20, 2009

Appomattox (8-2) at Clarke County (10-0)

By Jeff Nations --
When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Wilbur M. Feltner Stadium, Berryville

Who to watch: Appomattox -- Kenny Scott, senior, QB (53-for-103 passing for 866 yards, seven TDs, 955 rushing yards); Joe Reed, junior, RB (827 yards, 12 TDs); Neal Thomas, senior, WR (21 catches, 502 yards, four TDs); Josh Wilson, sophomore, RB (190 yards, three TDs); M.J. Pennix, senior, MLB; Clarke County -- Sam Shiley, senior, RB/DB (1,675 yards, 33 TDs, three Ints); Zach Shiley, senior, QB/DB (36-for-52 passing for 720 yards, five TDs); Grant Shaw, junior, RB/DB (697 yards, nine TDs, 53 tackles); Jeremy Rhoads, senior, RB/LB (119 yards, two TDs, 156 tackles, five sacks); Caleb Hartsook, senior, TE/DE (70 tackles, two sacks).

When Clarke County football coach Chris Parker thinks of Appomattox, he just can't help that the school brings to mind one of his best football memories.

That came last year, when Parker's Eagles downed visiting Appomattox 27-19 for Clarke County's first playoff win since 1990 and the first-ever under Parker. It didn't come easy, and Parker expects it won't be any easier in Saturday's playoff rematch at Wilbur M. Feltner Stadium in Berryville.

The matchup promises to be a treat for fans numbed by the ever-popular spread and wing-T offenses so prevalent in high school football. The Eagles run a single-wing attack that has positively devastated opposing defenses this season, while the Raiders employ their speed to run an option-based offense incorporating both mid-line and triple option elements.

Appomattox, the Dogwood District regular-season champion, is seeking its first playoff win since 1979.

The Eagles will again have their hands full in trying to contain Appomattox senior quarterback Kenny Scott, a capable passer (866 passing yards, seven TDs) and an explosive runner (955 rushing yards, 13 TDs). Scott, along with junior running back Joe Reed (827 rushing yards, 12 TDs), is the focus of the Raiders' offense.

"They have a lot of speed, they're very athletic, and they have playmakers," Parker said. "They can throw it, but that's not really what they want to do.

"Speed's their game. They'll run plays off-tackle, but if stuff's clogged up they'll bounce it outside."

Clarke County's offense hasn't been close to slowed this season, as senior running back Sam Shiley (1,675 rushing yards, 33 TDs) and twin brother Zach Shiley -- the Eagles' quarterback who has passed for 720 yards -- have developed into an unstoppable combination. Clarke County's single-wing has rolled up 3,478 rushing yards this season, despite an ever-shifting approach by opposing defenses.

"We see all kinds of stuff," Parker said. "[Appomattox has] been running an odd-front with a 3-5 or, when they bring in the outside backers, a 5-3 look. I would imagine we'll see a lot of people in the box."
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Conemaugh Township, Windber to play for District 5 title

The Tribune-Democrat

Phil DeMarco has spent all season trying to improve his team’s defense.

The Windber coach has tried different looks and different players, but with his Ramblers set to face rival Conemaugh Township in the District 5 Class A championship game at Berlin tonight, he’s done tinkering.

“I’m not even going to mention defense,” DeMarco said Wednesday night. “We’ve got to find a way to win the game.”

Mostly, the Ramblers (8-2) have done that with their high-powered single-wing offense. Last week they rallied to beat Berlin 47-44 as Brandon Ulasky, Jarid Cover and Kyle Smith each ran for 100 yards. Cover scored the final touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to cap the comeback.

“I told them last week after the game ‘You’re unbelieveable,’ ” DeMarco recalled. “They said ‘Is that a good thing or a bad thing?’ I said, ‘That’s a good thing.’ ”

Conemaugh Township (9-1) is the top seed in District 5 and beat Windber 49-41 in Week 2. In that game the Ramblers trailed 35-14 at the half before coming within a foot of a touchdown that would have given them a chance to tie the game.

Indians coach Sam Zambanini thinks his defense has improved since then, giving up more than one touchdown only once in the past six games.

“We’ve evolved into more of a defensive team than we were early,” Zambanini said. “Each week we’ve gotten better defensively.”

The Indians will face a big test from a Windber team that has averaged 40.8 points per game. The Ramblers do it with a diverse offense. Cover has a team-high 1,436 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground while Brandon Ulasky has run for

687 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught

35 passes for another 557 yards and eight touchdowns. Quarterback Erick Strapple has thrown for 901 yards and 10 touchdowns against just three interceptions.

“That’s the essence of the single wing,” DeMarco said. “We spread the wealth in this offense.”

Even so, Zambanini isn’t convinced that Windber and Conemaugh Township will light up the scoreboard like they did early in the season.

“I think some people might be surprised,” he said. “A lot of people might see it as a shootout, high-scoring affair, track meet – whatever you want to call it – but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it turns out to be a defensive game.”

Conemaugh Township has an explosive offense of its own, as the Indians have averaged 37.2 points per game for the season. Seth Zaman leads The Tribune-Democrat’s coverage area with 1,798 rushing yards, and the senior has 24 touchdowns on the ground, but he’s not the Indians’ only threat.

“They’re not a one-man team,” DeMarco said. “They can throw the football – I think they proved that in the first game.”

Quarterback George Bivens has thrown for 1,016 yards and 10 touchdowns this season against just three interceptions. His top target is Kyle Zambanini, who has 461 yards, but Zaman (232 yards) and Keith Myers (205) are also threats in the passing game.

Fullback Brett Byers has rushed for 405 yards and eight touchdowns and also is the lead blocker for Zaman. Center Mike Lysic leads an offensive line that has impressed DeMarco.

“You can’t underestimate their guys up front,” DeMarco said.

Conemaugh Township’s players probably won’t underestimate Windber, either. Last year the Indians beat the Ramblers in the regular season before falling to them in the district championship game.

Coach Zambanini hasn’t let them forget it.

“That’s got to be one of the motivating factors for our guys, especially since we have a lot of guys that were in that game last year,” he said. “Hopefully they have the memory of that game. That could be part of their motivation.”

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