There are a few strong friendships between some Cambridge Springs and Maplewood football players.
Not tonight, though.
Cambridge Springs at Maplewood
• Cambridge Springs (1-3, 1-2 Region 2)
• Maplewood (3-2, 2-1 Region 2).
In one of the area’s biggest football rivalries, the Blue Devils – coming off a tough 14-8 loss to Region 2-leading Cochranton last week – will attempt to get back into the win column on the Tigers’ turf, who are entering with a lot of momentum after their 30-8 dismantling of Seneca.
“I think it’s still a big rivalry,” said Maplewood coach Bryan Borkovich. “It’s a PENNCREST game and our kids talk to a lot of those guys outside of school. I feel like we have similar type kids and there is a community pride thing between the two schools.”
Borkovich and Cambridge Springs coach Nathan Liberty know each other very well — matching wits with each other for the past several years, including Liberty’s five seasons at Cochranton.
“I expect Nate to do what he always has done … lots of formations on offense and try to control the game,” said Borkovich. “I have a lot of respect for Nate and what he has done. I know his team will be well prepared and well coached.”
In their blowout win over Seneca, Borkovich put the ball in junior halfback Ben Giliberto’s hands, and once again, the Tigers’ scatback had a huge game with 130 yards rushing on 18 carries.
“We were extremely physical, and Ben ran the ball very well,” said Borkovich.
Liberty’s outlook on the game: “We are going to continue to fight, and keep the pride of the Blue Devils,” he said.
Jim’s pick: Maplewood 23, Cambridge Springs 20.
Alex’s pick: Maplewood 17, Cambridge Springs 16.
Franklin at Meadville
• Franklin (1-5, 1-3 Region 5)
• Meadville (4-2, 4-0 Region 5)
The ‘Dogs are chewing up and spitting out their opponents as of late.
Riding a three-game winning streak, the red-hot Meadville football team has outscored its opponents (Harbor Creek, Warren and Conneaut), 153-7 – yes, the 146-point margin is correct!
The youth-ladened Bulldogs are finally getting what MASH coach Ray Collins has been preaching all season – take care of the football.
“We finally have things going in the right direction,” said Collins. “If you think back to the first game of the season against Grove City (50-48 loss), and our week three loss against Butler (27-13), those were games we had a lot of turnovers and penalties. We really hurt ourselves in those games with mistakes.
“I think the biggest improvement that we have made is we have really limited our turnovers. The backs are holding onto the ball, we aren’t throwing interceptions, and although we are still getting more penalties than I would like, we are doing a much better job of limiting mistakes so that we can sustain drives on offense. The other defining factor is that our young team has grown up quickly and they have gotten better every week.”
How about the dominating “D,” coach?
“Our defense has been really strong this season, even in the two losses we have. Coach Mike Richards does an outstanding job each week of putting together and coordinating an awesome defensive game plan. We do a good job of scouting our opponents. Through the last couple of weeks, teams have found it very difficult to move the ball against us, let alone score.
“Our players have really bought into the mindset that the defense carries this team, and it is our defense that ultimately wins us ball games. We expected at the beginning of the season that our defense would be the unit that drove our success. The defense was the unit that developed chemistry the quickest.”
As been the case in its recent winning streak, Collins is approaching tonight’s game against Franklin the same way – not taking the Knights lightly despite their losing record, 1-5 overall and 1-3 in Region 5.
“We are approaching them like everyone else, they are in our region and they are the next team up that could beat us and take away our opportunity to win a region championship. We have played very hard to get to the top of the region and we want to protect that standing, so we can’t have any type of let down and we have to play great football against Franklin.”
Sorry, coach, but this writer is expecting another lopsided victory …
Jim’s pick: Meadville 68, Franklin 0.
Alex’s pick: Meadville 53, Franklin 7.
Seneca at Saegertown
• Seneca (1-4, 1-4 Region 2)
• Saegertown (1-3, 1-2 Region 2)
Can you say, .500?
Entering as the favorites against Seneca, the Saegertown Panthers have their sights set on evening their Region 2 record at 2-2 – even without their offensive rock, senior quarterback Hank Shaffer, who got injured in last week’s 54-28 loss to Reynolds and will miss tonight’s game.
“Wyatt Burchill will be our starting quarterback this week and we feel comfortable he can run the offense,” said Saegertown coach Jim Wolfgang. “He did a great job when he went into the game last week.”
Burchill, a freshman, completed two-of-three passes for 57 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown pass to Sully Zirkle.
The 26-point loss to Reynolds is somewhat deceiving. Wolfgang explains:
“When we had 11 on the field doing what they were supposed to be doing, we moved the ball well. We also played good defense. Once they knocked Shaffer out of the game, it took too long for us to bring it back together on the field.”
Senior running back Keenan Schaaf had a spectacular game, rushing for 133 yards on only 14 carries.
“Keenan had a big game,” said Wolfgang. “He was running hard and had some great holes to run through.”
The key factors against Seneca, coach?
“We need to control the line of scrimmage and our backs need to run hard. Defensively, we will need to contain their quarterback, not let him scramble, defend the option, and cover their passing game.”
Jim’s pick: Saegertown 14, Seneca 12.
Alex’s pick: Saegertown 27, Seneca 6.
Thomas earns honor
Sorry, Jack Martinec, but Maplewood junior kicker Sadie Thomas deserves some recognition.
In the Tigers’ 30-8 victory over Seneca last week, Thomas was good on all three of her extra points and booted a 24-yard field goal to earn The Meadville Tribune’s Player of the Week.
“I did not hesitate for a second to send Sadie out for that field goal,” said proud Maplewood coach Bryan Borkovich. “Sadie is a great athlete and a great competitor, so when I send her out there, I am never nervous about her performing. She is one of those athletes that you can count on.”
As for Martinec, a three-time Player of the Week this season, the Cochranton Cardinals’ hard-nosed senior running back was the runner-up as he rushed for his third 200-plus yards game of the season with 257 yards in the Redbirds’ hard-fought 14-8 win over Cambridge Springs last week.
Martinec now has 921 yards rushing on the season, in only four games. The Cards travel to Iroquois on Saturday night.
Jim Hunter: 19-6
Alex Topor: 16-9