Meadville Tribune

Sports

August 29, 2013

H.S. FOOTBALL: Blue Devils, Panthers clash to open 2013 season

MEADVILLE — It’s high school football season. And what better way to kick off the season than with a matchup between two of Crawford County’s biggest rivals — Saegertown and Cambridge Springs.

“One of the things last year was we didn’t really have a great overall record,” Cambridge Springs coach Clint Rauscher said, “but we were able to beat Saegertown and Maplewood and put that feather in the caps. It’s a big deal.”

Saegertown and Cambridge Springs enter tonight’s game at 7 p.m. at Saegertown High School’s Canon Memorial Field at two ends of the spectrum.

The Panthers lost some players to graduation, but for the most part were set to return quite a bit of talent in 2013, including their top four rushers and receivers. But several players, for one reason or another, opted not to come back.

That leaves Saegertown with a fairly inexperienced squad.

Cambridge Springs, on the other hand, is in a rare position this season. The Blue Devils return all but one player from last year’s roster and that player suffered a season-ending injury two games into the season.

But Rauscher isn’t expecting anything less than a battle with the Panthers. In fact, Rauscher said he came away from film sessions and the Panthers’ scrimmage against Seneca a week ago impressed with what he saw.

“For being a really young team and losing what they did, I was impressed with what I saw on tape,” Rauscher said. “They execute their offense well. I was impressed. They look like they’ve been working hard at it.”

With that said, the Blue Devils can’t get too overconfident.

“Without question,” Rauscher said. “The last scrimmage we were dull. I don’t think we were sharp at all. I keep telling them, ‘You haven’t won a game yet. You’re a 3-7 team. You haven’t done anything yet.’ I like the feeling that they are confident and have such big expectations, but we can’t get too overconfident.

“Saegertown is feeling the underdog situation and Mike (Rhoades) can feed off that and use it as motivation. Everything is in their favor: The rivalry, nobody thinks you can win. We have to focus now. This is when it counts.”

Rauscher said the key for Cambridge Springs will be making sure “we follow our proper rules” on defense. Rauscher said Saegertown runs a lot of its offense off misdirection and against Seneca found itself with a lot of open receivers.

“That concerns me a bit,” Rauscher said. “We’re going to go in and try to be physical with them.”

For Saegertown the key will be slowing down the Devils up front. After all, the Devils return all but 104 of their 1,828 yards rushing from a year ago, led by Colton Noble, who tallied a team-best 924 yards on 152 carries with six touchdowns last season.

“There are ways to attack an over aggressive team,” Rhoades said. “We have things built in. We have a pretty good game plan and know how we are going to attack it. It’s a matter of making it happen.”

The Devils do head into tonight’s game with a question mark at quarterback. Devin Walker took a hit during the team’s first scrimmage and is still working his way back. If Walker can’t go, Steve Reisenauer will take the snaps.

“Either way, we’ll be O.K.” Rauscher said.

It is after all, go time.

“Oh yeah,” Rhoades said. “My goodness. When we got thrown into this region (Class AA Region 3), I don’t want to call it a program killer, but it definitely dims the program. The kids who came out, they are here to play football. And Geez-o-pete, I’m proud of every one of them. We’re excited.”

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