Life doesn’t offer many second chances. That’s why when one finally comes along it’s so important to take advantage of it. This is a concept not lost on the Cambridge Springs football team. After suffering their second loss of the year, the Blue Devils’ season appeared to be cut short. But, it was then suddenly resuscitated with an 11th-hour call to the postseason.

Now, the Devils will get their second chance when they take on Sharpsville in the first round of the District 10 Class A playoffs, today at 1 p.m. at Wilmington High School’s Greyhound Stadium.

“We thought it was over,” said Spa offensive guard Adam Wolfram. “This is our second chance. We’ve got to take it to them.”

Cambridge will enter the game with a 6-3 record, toting the No. 3 seed out of a tough Region 2 race. The Devils playoff experience is limited. The last time they were in the postseason was in 2002, when this year’s seniors were just freshmen. That year, the Devils fell to West Middlesex 7-6 in a snowy D-10 semifinal.

Sharpsville, which is also called the Blue Devils, is 8-1, finishing second in the top-heavy Region 1 battle. The crew hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1995, and has won five of the last eight district crowns, including one over Cambridge Springs in the 1997 title game. That year, Sharpsville went on to win the program’s first state championship.

“(Sharpsville) is a really good team,” said Cambridge Springs head coach Walt Nottingham. “They’re consistent. They don’t make many mistakes ... Their backs are quick, they have a pretty good sized line. They come at you pretty good.”

Running out of the Wing-T offense, the Mercer County Devils have been able to shoot a number of rushers up the leader list in District 10. Leading the charge is senior Ian Brown who has 101 carries for 765 yards and eight touchdowns this year. He’s followed by junior Aaron Reddix and senior Rick Golub who have a combined 1,155 yards and 18 touchdowns split almost evenly during the season.

Quarterback P.J. O’Connor can also chuck the ball, something the Cambridge defense has struggled against in the past. O’Connor is 41-for-78 on the year, passing for 782 yards and five touchdowns. He’s only been picked twice. His favorite target down-field is senior receiver Jarryd Summers who has 12 catches for 211 yards and two TDs. O’Connor will also go to Reddix occasionally as well.

“They look like they’re a pretty solid team,” said Spa running back Josh Hobson. “They do a fair amount of running, passing ... it will be a challenge for our secondary and we’ve been working on that.”

It’s sort of odd to hear Hobson talk about defense when the kid is mainly known for his offense. That’s what happens when you lead the entire district in rushing yards throughout the regular season.

Hobson has claimed the school record with his 1,549 yards this year. He picked those up on 208 carries and scored 16 rushing touchdowns in the process. However, the Cambridge offense isn’t the one-trick pony some might think.

“It’s not only (Hobson),” Wolfram said. “We’ve got Austin Tapper in there. He’s a nice power back. We got Ryan Parkin. He’s got the speed. It blends well.”

Quarterback Clay Acker, who doesn’t throw the ball much, can cut loose on the ground. He’s the second leading rusher for the Spa Devils, picking up 468 yards and six touchdowns on 88 carries. Tapper and Parkin have contributed about 600 yards and nine scores this season.

Up front, Sharpsville has an edge in size wit a center, Brent Pavone listed at 285 pounds, a guard (Mike Kudelko) at 260 and a tackle (Jared Grandy) who weighs in at 335. But the size issue doesn’t seem to faze Cambridge much.

“They’re a little bit bigger than us,” said coach Nottingham. “But that’s okay with us because we tend to play better against bigger teams than the smaller ones.”

Besides, the Cambridge Springs line is by no means small, with a 5-foot-11, 215-pound average along the interior. Also, the team exhibits a certain chemistry among its front five.

“Our line, this year, has a lot of experience,” said Wolfram. “We’re smarter this year ... Honestly, I love the four guys that are next to me. And I think our backfield is stacked.”

The feeling seems mutual.

“Our linemen can match up against any defensive line,” said Hobson. “I think our front five can push any team around.”



React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Trending Video

Recommended for you