Shaffer

Saegertown quarterback Henry Shaffer looks to pass against Cochranton in last week’s season opener. Shafer and the Panthers snapped a 38-game losing streak by beating the rival Cardinals 13-6.

Cambridge Springs and Maplewood enter tonight’s rivalry clash in different moods: The Blue Devils are hopped-up after their 41-18 demolishing of Lakeview last week, while the Tigers are ticked off after their disappointing 17-14 overtime loss to Northwestern.

The question is: Will the respective players have the same attitudes after the game — meaning a 2-0 start for Cambridge Springs and 0-2 beginning for Maplewood?

We’ll find out roughly around 10 p.m.

As for the Spa’s impressive “W” over Lakeview, Cambridge Springs first-year coach Nate Liberty was fired up while discussing it.

“It was a great team win,” he said. “Our defense was outstanding. We flew around the ball and had a lot of gang tackles. We held them (Lakeview) to a negative 10 yards in the first half. We were dominant.”

Offensively, Liberty showcased a running back not heard of in Crawford County: senior Ayden Miller. Returning to the gridiron after taking two years off, Miller was a monster against Lakeview, rushing for 124 yards on only 13 carries and scoring three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).

“Ayden had a phenomenal debut,” said Liberty. “He is a very good kid … very smart. He is also an extremely hard worker. I couldn’t have asked for a better first game from Ayden.”

Liberty’s senior quarterback Trent Wheeler also was brilliant as he completed nine of 14 passes for 105 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 71 yards on 17 hauls.

“Trent played very well,” said Liberty. “I was very happy with his overall performance. He led the team the way I was hoping he would, and he did a great job in his check downs.”

Maplewood coach Bryan Borkovich didn’t sleep as well as Liberty did.

Turning the ball over five times and committing 11 penalties, the Tigers — the defending District 10 Class 1A runner-up — suffered their first region loss in two years against Northwestern.

“It was a real tough pill to swallow,” said the unhappy Borkovich. “When you play as sloppy as we did and are in a game you shouldn’t even be in, it hurts. We got tired at the end and it showed. You aren’t going to beat many teams turning the ball over five times.”

Making his first career varsity start at quarterback, junior Jason McFadden — replacing his heralded cousin signal-caller star J.D. McFadden — had his ups and downs, completing four of 11 passes for 37 yards and rushing for a touchdown.

“Jason was okay for a first start,” said Borkovich, “but, it was hard for him to get in any kind of rhythm on offense and it showed. As soon as a drive would start, we would fumble the ball.”

Borkovich knows what to expect from Cambridge Springs:

“They are well coached as always. Nate and I coached against each other when he was at Cochranton and I know that staff well. They are going to be ready to go and they looked good against Lakeview.

“We are going to have to stop their rushing attack and limit the throws that Wheeler makes. He is a good athlete and I noticed he is picking up the offense quickly.”

 

Northwestern (1-0, 1-0 Region 4) at Saegertown (1-0, 1-0 Region 4)

Practices were a lot different this week at Saegertown — in a good way.

Coming off a win for the first time in five years with their 13-6 victory over Cochranton to snap a 38-game losing streak, the Panthers had a giddy-up in their gassers, and fourth-year coach Jim Wolfgang noticed.

“There was a different kind of attitude and excitement this week,” he said. “They got a taste of what it is like to come out on top and win a game. They still have that hunger in their eyes and want more wins. They are going hard in practice and realize if they want to be successful, it is something they need to work for.”

Despite the agonizing losing streak, Wolfgang has maintained his positive spirits. He knows how important his first “W” is for his players.

“It was huge getting the win. Some of these kids have never won a game. There was a mixture of feelings on Friday and there were some that it didn’t sink in until later on in the weekend. Our signs of success weren’t on the scoreboard, but on the field as the players and staff worked hard to prove to ourselves and the program. We’re taking it one game at a time, and when we stumble, we need to stand back up and move to the next task.”

In Saegertown’s dramatic win, sophomore quarterback Henry Shaffer tossed a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore split end Zach Yoder on its opening possession and then senior running back Jake Reisinger crossed the goal line on a four-yard run on its second series to give the Panthers an early 13-0 first-quarter lead.

The Cats’ “D” did the rest.

“We made some great stops in the game,” said Wolfgang.

Next hurdle: Saturday vs. Northwestern.

“They have several good players and are well coached,” said Wolfgang. “They will execute offensively and defensively. They are also a team that can face adversity, as we saw last Friday night.”

In order for the Panthers to start a winning streak …

“We will need everyone to do their job on the field,” said Wolfgang. “Offensively, we will need to be consistent in executing our plays so we can control the ball and the clock. Defensively, we will need to cover our gap of responsibility, flow to the ball and capitalize on turnovers. The offense and defense will need to minimize their mistakes.”

 

Cochranton (0-1 overall, 0-1 Region 4) at Lakeview (0-1 overall, 0-1 Region 4)

If you were to take away Saegertown’s opening two offensive possessions last week, Cochranton would have opened the season with a shutout victory.

Unfortunately, the Panthers scored touchdowns on their opening two series, and they were enough to snap their 38-game losing streak with a 13-6 win over the Cardinals.

Cochranton’s defensive turnaround is what first-year coach Clifton Roberts took away from the game, and not being the team giving Saegertown its first victory in five years.

“After the opening two series, our defense played great,” said Roberts, who leads his team into Stoneboro tonight to play Lakeview. “We locked them down the rest of the game, which was very encouraging.”

Cochranton’s offensive showing was not as rosy.

“We made some crucial mental mistakes, and hopefully, we have corrected them in practice this week,” said Roberts. “We are installing a new offense, and as I told the kids, it’s going to take us a few games before it starts flowing smoothly. As the year goes on, I am expecting better offensive production.”

Senior running back Jon Gallo had a strong game against Saegertown, rushing for 96 yards on 19 carries — despite suffering a “stinger” in the first quarter.

“Jon had a great game,” said Roberts. “The kid is tough. He didn’t want to come out of the game when he sustained that stinger. His mentality is unbelievable. I’m glad he is on our team.”

As for Lakeview, the Cochranton mentor knows what his squad needs to do to post their first win of the season:

“We have to play good defense on the perimeter,” he said. “They like to throw the ball, so we need some excellent lockdown coverage.”

Concluding, Roberts said, “I feel the kids are hungry for a win. I expect them to play with a lot of heart.”

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