Week 5 already? Time flies, huh? It seems like the season just started and yet here we are at the halfway point.

Yet, there’s still a lot of football left. And a few area teams are hitting some key stretches in their schedules; stretches that could have could have major playoff or championship implications.

Saegertown, for example, is off to a shimmering 4-0 start, 3-0 in Region 2. But on Friday, the Panthers begin a span of four straight games on the road. During that trip, the Panthers will take on two teams that are tied for second in the region (Iroquois and Mercyhurst Prep), a surprising .500 squad (Union City) and the current leader of Region 1 (Linesville).

This stretch will be vital for Saegertown, which is looking for its first conference championship since 2002.

Speaking of Union City, the Bears are still well in the running, but their next two games are going to be crucial. On Friday, the Bears take on Eisenhower. Then they’ve got Saegertown the following week.

After that, Union City has three opponents (Harborcreek Youth, Youngsville and Conneaut Valley) that are currently a combined 0-12. Union City then finishes up the season with Mercyhurst Prep, which is 2-0 in Region 2.

Right now, Union City is 1-2 in the region. They need to win at least one of their next two games, hang on against the winless trio, and then beat Mercyhurst to have a shot at the playoffs. No team from Region 2 in the last four years has made it to the playoffs with more than three losses.

Still looking around Region 2; Cambridge Springs has got big back-to-back games starting Friday with Mercyhurst Prep. The Blue Devils — 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the conference — follow that game up with Eisenhower on Oct. 3.

If the Devils can get one of those two games they’ll be in good shape. If they get both they are almost assured a playoff spot.

After the Prep and Eisenhower games, Cambridge has back-to-back winless teams in Cochranton and Harborcreek Youth. Then the Devils finish up with a pair of tough opponents in Iroquois and Saegertown. If they can hit that home stretch undefeated, or even with one loss, their playoff chances — at this point — look pretty good.



In Region 1...



As far as local teams go, Region 1 has one real shot at a title. And that belongs to Linesville

Conneaut Lake, at 1-1 in the league, still has a hope for playoffs. But the Indians still have to take on West Middlesex on Friday, plus Mercer, Farrell and Linesville down the road.

Lakeview has two losses, but a playoff berth isn’t that far fetched. The Sailors can only afford one more loss at most, yet still have Sharpsville, Farrell and Mercer on the slate.

Linesville, however, is 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the Region 1. The Lions passed a huge test last week by beating then-undefeated Mercer. And Friday they’ve got another big challenge when they take on Farrell.

Also, big games against West Middlesex (on Oct. 17) and Sharpsville (on Oct. 24) loom on the horizon as the Lions go for their first conference title since 2001.



Devils do it with “D”



Taking a look at the top eight Class A football teams and almost each of them have one thing in common — lots of points. Region 2-leading Saegertown, for example, has scored a District 10-high 195 points in its first four games. Linesville, which is in first in Region 1, has 163.

Yet of the top eight, one of these things is not like the other.

Cambridge Springs is currently in a tie for second place in Region 2, yet has only 42 points. That’s tied for fifth lowest in all of Class A. In fact, Cambridge is the only team in District 10 with a winning record that has given up more points than it has scored.

So, with so few points, how have the Blue Devils posted a 3-1 record and stayed in the Region 2 hunt?

Defense, duh.

After surrendering 44 points to Linesville in Week 1, the Blue Devils have gone on to win three straight while giving up a grand total of six points. In Week 2, Cambridge edged Youngsville 6-0. They followed that up with a 7-6 nail-biter over then-undefeated Union City. Then last week the offense broke out in a 22-0 win over Conneaut Lake.

Who gets the credit? Well, the linebacker corps for one. James Tobin is leading the team with 30 total tackles. Fellow linebacker Matt Brown follows with 29. And Giordano Tartaglione has 25 tackles and one sack. Mike Olon, another linebacker, has rushed the passer three times and has one sack.

Nose guard Dan Lineberry leads the team in both sacks (4) and fumbles caused (4). Finally, defensive back Jay Felton has the team’s only interception.



Pulling double duty



It just doesn’t do anymore for a team’s quarterback to merely hand the ball off or sit back in the pocket slinging passes. That’s why across District 10 there are multi-faceted QBs cropping up that are just as dangerous a threat on the ground as in the air.

There are two fine examples locally. Linesville junior Trevor Litwiler has passed for 414 yards and five touchdowns this season while rushing for 161 yards and four more touchdowns.

In Union City, senior Eric Albrecht has become something of a triple threat. He has passed for 286 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 182 yards and three touchdowns. Plus, he’s even caught a pair of passes for touchdowns this year.

Some other double-duty QBs in the D-10:

General McLane’s Kellen O’Neill has 224 yards and two touchdowns passing while rushing for a team-best 454 yards and six TDs. Slippery Rock’s Jono Powell is fifth in the D-10 in passing yards with 497 and six touchdowns. He’s also third in the district in rushing yards with 492 and five TDs.



Tribune team stats



Here’s a look at the top team statistics in the Tribune’s coverage area:

n Scoring offense: Saegertown leads this one easily. The Panthers are averaging 48.8 points a game. They’re followed by Meadville (43.8) and Linesville (41.3).

n Total offense: Meadville tops this list with 393.8 yards a game. Second is General McLane (369.0). Third is Saegertown (362.8).

n Passing offense: Union City leads the way, averaging 111 pass yards per game. The Bears are followed by Maplewood (108.0) and Linesville (106.8).

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