The red-hot Cardinals didn’t want to have an off week – even if they have to travel on the road.
After learning of Cambridge Springs closing its school operations due to a COVID-19 breakout on Monday, unbeaten Cochranton immediately found a replacement opponent for tonight – Eisenhower, another undefeated team.
The Cardinals and Knights (3-0 overall) are both 2-0 in Region 2.
The clash of the unbeatens.
“We got word that we would be playing Eisenhower around 11 a.m. on Tuesday,” said Cochranton first-year coach Mike Feleppa. “We are excited for the game.”
The Feleppa-led Cardinals are rolling this season with a pair of decisive victories – 22-0 shutout over Union City and 41-8 blowout over Seneca.
Please explain this season’s turnaround, coach Feleppa, who took over a team with an 11-game, two-year losing streak: “It’s no secret that winning builds confidence. I also believe the kids are starting to believe in themselves and are starting to trust us as coaches.”
The X-factor against Eisenhower?
“Well, like always, whichever team can limit mistakes and not turn the ball over,” said Feleppa.
Feleppa’s scouting report on the Knights: “They are a very well coached team. They like to run the ball and they do it well, but they can also hurt you with the pass at times. They are a physical team and play sound fundamental defense as well.”
Jim’s pick: Eisenhower 32, Cochranton 21.
Alex’s pick: Cochranton 22, Eisenhower 20.
Meadville at Harbor Creek
• Meadville (1-2, 1-0 Region 5)
• Harbor Creek (1-2, 1-1 Region 5)
The Bulldogs get their chance for revenge against the Huskies.
In last year’s District 10 playoffs, unbeaten Harbor Creek ended Meadville’s season with a hard-fought 20-16 victory.
MASH coach Ray Collins & Co. didn’t forget.
“The playoff game was a really hard hitting, physical football game and I think that both teams walked off the field with a newfound respect for each other,” said Collins.
The 2021 season is a bit different for both teams as they enter the contest with 1-2 overall losing records. The Bulldogs are coming off a 27-13 non-region loss to Butler, while the Huskies suffered a 30-20 non-region loss to Erie.
As the case in its 50-48 season-opening, error-prone loss to Grove City, Meadville was plagued by turnovers again versus Butler, committing costly miscues at crucial times.
“We generated a lot of offense as we had 300 yards rushing against Butler, but unfortunately, turnovers and costly penalties hurt most of our drives in the second half and gave them opportunities to put their offense back on the field,” said Collins. “Butler capitalized on our mistakes and was able to put the game away.”
Meadville’s top priority in practice this week? You guessed it: Ball security.
“We focused on our players taking responsibility for the mistakes that they are making and working to improve our overall focus and effort,” said the MASH mentor. “We have emphasized on being more physical, ball security and mental focus to eliminate the costly mistakes. I think we had a really good week of practice."
Collins’ scouting report on Harbor Creek: “They are well coached and their players get after it for four quarters. They have a strong rushing attack that is led by running back Cam Williamson, who runs hard and can run the ball between the tackles and to the outside. They are solid on both sides of the ball and they play a physical style of football. I think we match up really well with them as both teams pride themselves on being physical and running the football, and playing aggressive, hard-hitting defense.”
While Harbor Creek is mainly a one-man rushing attack, Meadville boasts three very talented running backs in senior Griffin Buzzell and juniors Khalon Simmons and Brady Walker. Their season stats: Buzzell (376 yards rushing, 7.7 yard per carry), Simmons (356 yards rushing, 8.9 yards per carry) and Walker (280 yards rushing, 8.2 yards per carry).
Jim’s pick: Meadville 36, Harbor Creek 21.
Alex’s pick: Meadville 27, Harbor Creek 21.
Saegertown (0-1, 0-1 Region 2) at Northwestern (2-0, 2-0 Region 2)
The Panthers get to play football again.
Shutdown the previous two weeks due to the COVID-19 virus, the Saegertown football team will be under the lights again tonight at Northwestern, and head coach Jim Wolfgang will be doing what he loves: Coaching his players.
“It has been tough on everyone, more mentally than anything,” he said. “We had to quarantine the first week and were able to get back on the field middle of last week. We handled it the best we could, and if the kids weren’t feeling well, then we told them to stay home.”
For the Panthers to get their first “W” of the season, they must …
“We need to execute offensively, getting 11 players on the field to do their job, and defensively, we will need to play our gaps and make tackles,” said Wolfgang.
Jim’s pick: Northwestern 30, Saegertown 14.
Alex’s pick: Northwestern 41, Saegertown 21.
Maplewood (1-1, 1-1 Region 2) at Union City (0-3, 0-3 Region 2)
Maplewood coach Bryan Borkovich warned his players at the beginning of the season: They will need to make sacrifices to avoid not being affected by the COVID-19 virus.
Unfortunately, a warning not followed.
Due to close contacts to a positive COVID-19 case, Maplewood’s game against Saegertown last week was canceled.
“It was extremely tough, to be sitting at home while other teams are getting games in is not fun,” said Borkovich. “It’s kind of a pause in the season which is something we are going to have to overcome this week.
“I think the players are taking it all in stride. It’s another little bit of adversity that we need to overcome as a program. I warned them at the beginning, that if they wanted a season, they were going to have to be smart and maybe make some sacrifices to play.”
How long were the Tigers shut down?
“We were shut down completely last week with no practices,” said Borkovich. “We were back on the field on Tuesday and had different players coming back at different times. We have had some online meetings and we talked to the team as much as possible. It’s been tough.”
On the positive side, Maplewood is playing a winless Union City squad, but the Tigers’ boss isn’t taking the Bears lightly.
“Union City is good at what they do. They have been running the option for a decade and if you are not playing assignment football, then it could be a long night.”
The main key to a win, coach?
“We need to get back into the swing of playing football and playing games. We need to get going on offense and not turn the ball over. We need to fly around on defense and play assignment football for four quarters.”
Jim’s pick: Maplewood 40, Union City 8.
Alex’s pick: Maplewood 35, Union City 0.
Conneaut (0-3, 0-2 Region 5) at General McLane (1-1, 1-1 Region 5)
The Eagles are hoping to get that nasty taste out of their mouths tonight at General McLane.
As first-year Conneaut coach Jake Stoyer proclaimed this week, “It was a very tough game. Warren JFK was exactly what we thought they were, a super echelon, well coached, talented team,” after the powerful John F. Kennedy squad of Warren, Ohio stamped a dominating 66-0 win on the Eagles last week.
When asked if it was all JFK’s doing or Conneaut’s inability to execute, Stoyer said, “It was a little bit of both. Against teams like JFK, it’s always going to be tough sledding, so to speak. However, we did not play to the expectations we have of ourselves. We preach about making teams earn everything they get, being a tough out no matter who it is we are playing. We had a lot of unforced errors that made things worse. We have to do the little things right moving forward to see progress.”
Stoyer knows there is only one way to go: Up.
“We have to make a commitment to ourselves to get better. We can’t worry about who we play or what their record is. We need to execute and improve each-and-every week. We need to play with the same intensity we did for three quarters against Oil City. We need to work to get ahead of the stick on first down and stay on schedule offensively.”
Jim’s pick: General McLane 28, Conneaut 7.
Alex’s pick: General McLane 42, Conneaut 14.
Player of the Week
Cochranton senior running back Jack Martinec didn’t want to be remembered for only one game this season.
For the second time in three weeks, Martinec was the area’s top high school football player as the Cardinal co-captain dismantled Seneca last week by rushing for a career-high 255 yards on 17 carries and scoring four total touchdowns, propelling the Redbirds to an overwhelming 41-8 win – earning The Meadville Tribune’s Player of the Week for the second time this year.
Martinec also won the honors in the opening week of action by rushing for 155 yards on 18 carries in Cochranton’s 22-0 victory over Union City, snapping its two-year, 11-game losing streak.
Against Seneca, Martinec crossed the goal line on six-, 24- and 67-yard runs and also hauled in a 40-yard touchdown reception.
“I tried to finish every run as hard as I can,” said Martinec after the game.
Cochranton first-year coach Mike Feleppa only had praise for his hard-nosed runner: “Every week, Jack comes to work. He is a workhorse.”
Jim Hunter: 9-3.
Alex Topor: 5-7.