Friday, September 11, 2009

Somerset County rivalry highlights scholastic schedule

The Tribune-Democrat

It’s only Week 2 of the high school football season, but emotions should be running high tonight when Windber hosts Conemaugh Township for a WestPAC battle.

“It’s been a rivalry forever and ever,” said Conemaugh Township coach Sam Zambanini, who graduated from the Davidsville school in 1980. “It goes way beyond my years. Part of the rivalry is the close proximity of the schools, but also a big part of it is our communities are so much alike. Our kids are kind of like the Windber kids. Along with the fact that both schools have kind of a storied football history. I think all of those contribute.”

Conemaugh Township beat Windber 14-0 in Week 2 a year ago, but the Ramblers had the last laugh, beating the Indians 42-21 in the District 5 Class A championship game.

Windber coach Phil DeMarco said neither of those games matter now.

“It’s always a special week,” he said of the buildup to the rivalry. “It doesn’t matter what the records are, if it’s early in the season or late in the season. It’s Windber-Township.”

Conemaugh Township got off to a strong start this season with a 35-6 victory over Blacklick Valley in Week 1. Seth Zaman ran for 109 yards and two scores. He also five passes for 121 yards and two more touchdown passes.

“Being the tailback, when we want to run the football, he’s a big part of it, but we’re not one-dimensional,” Zambanini said.

Far from it. DeMarco said the Indians are about as diverse as a high school team can be.

“They run every formation imaginable,” he said. “I don’t think there are any more you can run.”

Conemaugh Township quarterback George Bivens was 8-of-13 passing for 182 yards in his first varsity start and threw three touchdown passes.

“I’m very happy with George,” Zambanini said. “I thought he managed the game very well. It was his fist varsity start, so I’m sure there were some jittery moments, but he settled in very well.”

In addition to Zaman, who can split out wide in the spread formation, Bivens has capable receivers in Kyle Zambanini and Keith Myers. Fullback Brett Byers also gives the Indians versatility on offense.

“We think we can do a lot of things,” Coach Zambanini said.

The Ramblers also can do a number of different things, though virtually all of it comes out of DeMarco’s single-wing offense.

Jarid Cover and Kyle Smith each rushed for mor than 100 yards in Windber’s 21-14 victory over Chestnut Ridge last week. Quarterback Erick Strapple completed four of nine passes for 92 yards and a touchdown.

“Windber’s good again, there’s no doubt,” Coach Zambanini said. “They’re a very good football game. We’ve seen the scrimmages. We saw last week’s game.”

DeMarco said Chestnut Ridge did a good job of taking away the inside running game and expects Conemaugh Township to do the same. Last year the Indians used their defensive linemen to tie up Winder’s offensive line, freeing up the linebackers to make plays.

“They’re going to be in their 5-3 and sacrifice their defensive lineman,” DeMarco said. “Our linemen can’t come up with any excuses.”

The Indians have watched film from last year, but they weren’t just concentrating on X’s and O’s.

“When we look to last year’s games, we like to look back to the District 5 championship game for a little motivation,” Coach Zambanini said. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with the outcome, and the guys around for that have a sour taste in their mouth.”

But this rivalry would be heated even if the Ramblers hadn’t ended the Indians’ season a year ago.

“You don’t need a lot of that kind of stuff for this game,” Coach Zambanini said. “Whenever Township and Windber get together, it’s going to be a physical game. We know that, and we’re sure they know that.”

In other games tonight:


North Star at Shade: This game could determine if last week’s results were a fluke or a sign of things to come. North Star, which has won two consecutive District 5 titles, was beaten 27-14 by Berlin. Shade, on the other hand, matched its win total from a year ago with a 14-0 victory over Conemaugh Valley.

The Cougars won 52-6 a year ago, but the Panthers defense looks much better than it did then. Sam Aikey had six of Shade’s 10 sacks in Week 1 and Conemaugh Valley had just 6 yards of total offense.

Conemaugh Valley at Meyersdale: The Blue Jays routed the Red Raiders 48-7 a year ago, but could have a tougher task this time around.

Conemaugh Valley managed just 6 yards of offense in a 14-0 loss to Shade in Week 1 while Meyersdale beat Ferndale 48-12 behind a strong running attack. Ben Lohr and Justin Hoover each rushed for more than 100 yards in the victory.


Penn Cambria at Bishop McCort: Two powerful ground games should be on display at Point Stadium.

Zac Newton, The Tribune-Democrat’s reigning Offensive Player of the Year, leads the Penn Cambria offense. He ran for 226 yards in the Panthers’ 40-12 victory over Westmont Hilltop last week.

Bishop McCort got a breakout performance from Josh Seidel. The senior running back racked up 219 yards on just 13 carries.

The Crimson Crushers beat Penn Cambria 47-14 last year.

Cambria Heights at Greater Johnstown: The Trojans will get a third crack at win No. 600 for the program as the Highlanders come in off 53-14 loss to Somerset.

Johnstown, which lost 20-8 to Forest Hills last week, could get its offense back on track as quarterback John Siciliano, who ran for 99 yards against the Rangers, will face a defense that gave up 251 yards to Somerset quarterback Trevor Niemiec.

Cambria Heights, which lost 49-14 to Johnstown last year, got 106 receiving yards and a touchdown out of Erik Welteroth last week.

Bedford at Richland: The Bisons and Rams come in off close wins last week. Bedford beat Bishop Carroll 14-9 while Richland edge Central Cambria 34-27.

John Rizzo had 105 rushing yards for Richland while Gino Ramires threw for 159.

Bedford, which lost 41-20 to the Rams a year ago, was led by Paul Detwiler last week. The senior ran for 145 yards and scored both touchdowns.

Forest Hills at Bishop Carroll: The Rangers, who shut out the Huskies 27-0 last year, appear to have a strong defense again.

Forest Hills beat Johnstown 20-8 in Week 1, with Erik Ondrejik recording two of the Rangers’ six sacks. Nick Dudokovich led the offense with 134 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

Bishop Carroll had a balanced attack in a 14-9 loss to Bedford. Shawn Perich was 7 of 15 passing for 115 yards while the Huskies ran for 158 yards.

Bishop Guilfoyle at Somerset: Niemiec is the area’s leading rusher after ripping off 251 yards on 17 carries in last week’s 53-14 win at Cambria Heights. He’ll face a defense that gave up 289 yards on the ground in a 52-15 loss to Bishop McCort.

Niemiec also had four touchdowns for Somerset, which lost 50-29 to the Marauders a year ago.

Eugene Ehredt had 77 yards and 38 receiving yards in Bishop Guilfoyle’s loss last week.


Ligonier Valley at United: Ligonier Valley got off to a quick start, beating Purchase Line 47-0 a week ago, while United is looking to regroup after a 14-8 overtime loss to Laurel Valley.

Jackson Corcoran led the Mounties’ offense, carrying 14 times for 140 yards while Devon Cesaro’s 12 tackles helped shut out the Red Dragons.

United, which lost 41-23 to Ligonier Valley last year, got 125 rushing yards and a touchdown from Kody Oliver in its opener.

Laurel Valley at Penns Manor: Six days after getting his first career victory, coach Chuck Nanassy will go for No. 2.

The Rams, who beat United 14-8 in overtime on Saturday, will face a Penns Manor team that ran for nearly 400 yards in beating Northern Cambria 41-19 last week.

Laurel Valley, which beat Penns Manor 29-22 last year, was led by Chris Morrow in Week 1. The senior tailback had 135 yards on 20 carries.

Homer-Center at Northern Cambria: After giving up nearly 400 yards on the ground in last week’s 41-19 loss to Penns Manor, Northern Cambria gets a Homer-Center team that ran the ball 40 consecutive times last week in a 26-14 win over Saltsburg.

Jeremy Smith led the Wildcats with 139 yards and two touchdowns.

Northern Cambria, which lost 41-34 to Homer-Center a year ago, got 240 passing yards from quarterback Anthony Penksa in Week 1. The senior completed 10 of 17 passes and threw for a pair of touchdowns.


Berlin at Chestnut Ridge: A week after beating North Star on the road, the Mountaineers will face the team the Cougars beat in last year’s District 5 Class AA game.

The Lions, who lost 21-14 to Windber in Week 1, beat Berlin 28-0 last year. Jude Donatelli was Chestnut Ridge’s top offensive player against Windber, carrying 17 times for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Berlin got a strong performance from Ian Sayler on both sides of the ball in last week’s 27-14 win in Boswell. The junior ran for 147 yards and a touchdown while recording an area-best 16 tackles.

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