HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

SV needs to stay clean against P-R

State-champion Rams visit Friday

September 3, 2021 Cranberry Local Sports


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Seneca Valley quarterback Graham Hancox (5) scrambles away from Moon's Ben Bladel on an option play during SV's 38-21 loss to the Tigers last Friday.Seb Foltz/Butler Eagle

When he watched the film from his team's season-opening game against Moon last Friday, Seneca Valley football coach Ron Butschle saw some good things.

He was also reminded why his team dropped a 38-21 decision to the Tigers.

Offensively, the Raiders gained 55 yards on a touchdown drive to begin the game. They managed just 103 yards the rest of the night.

Defensively, they found it difficult to get off the field. Many of their 140 penalty yards came against their defense.

“We played the way we wanted to as far as (a fast) tempo, but we took points off the board,” Butschle said. “Penalties were a big obstacle for us.”

SV must play a cleaner game if it is to avoid an 0-2 start to the season. Defending WPIAL and PIAA Class 5A champion Pine-Richland is set to visit NexTier Stadium Friday for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.

The Rams are also in search of their first victory after suffering a 26-21 setback against Harrisburg.

The positives for P-R included 221 yards passing and three touchdowns from senior quarterback Cole Boyd. But he also turned the ball over three times, including two interceptions.

“He's a great young man ... a leader and captain for us,” said Rams' coach Steve Campos, who was SV's quarterbacks coach this time last year. “He's only going to get better and better every week.”

“He's not very big,” Butschle said of Boyd (6-0, 185), “but he's athletic and gets rid of the ball quickly.”

Alex Gochis, a 6-2, 190-pound senior receiver, caught seven passes for 124 yards and a touchdown for the Rams. Andrew Mellis snagged the other two scoring passes.

SV's secondary will be tested. The group includes cornerbacks Joe Babusci and Wayne Pirt and safeties Luke Lawson and Aiden Hayes. All four are first-year starters.

Hayes is the younger brother of Brennan and Conor Hayes, who previously starred in the team's secondary.

“It seems like every year, I get a new Hayes,” Butschle said, laughing. “Aiden is cut from the same mold as Brennan and Conor.

“JP McFeeley (SV's defensive coordinator) is one of the best defensive coaches I've been around. It's just, right now, we have eight new starters on that side of the ball.”

SV quarterback Graham Hancox passed for 87 yards with one touchdown and one interception. One playmaker on his side is sophomore Kai West, who returned a kickoff 83 yards for a score.

“Kai's going to be doing a lot of things for us ... running the ball, catching it, returning kicks,” said Butschle. “He's electric when he gets the ball in his hands.”

A former member of Butschle's staff, Campos is very familiar with the Raiders.

“They have great talent on offense and defense,” he said. “They're a well-coached team.”

Mars (0-1) at Shaler (1-0) 7 p.m., Friday

Mars was shut out last week at home by North Hills, 37-0. After going winless last season, Shaler knocked off host New Castle, 37-20.

The Planets rushed for just 40 yards on 14 attempts last week ... QB Rafael Bartley completed 9 of 17 passes for 68 yards ... Mars is hoping to avoid its first 0-2 start since 2005.

Two key players on Shaler's offense are RBs Josh Miller (5-11, 185) and Luke Cignetti (5-11, 175).

North Catholic (1-0) at Ambridge (0-1) 7 p.m., Friday

North Catholic trampled host Hopewell last week, 62-0. Ambridge fell on the road to Wheeling Central Catholic, 36-14.

North RB Jack Fennell returned a pair of punts for TDs and rushed for a 10-yard score in the shutout against the Vikings ... RB Kyle Tipinski broke loose for a 75-yard TD run ... The Trojans scored 35 points in the second quarter alone and racked up 303 total rushing yards.

Under former Aliquippa assistant and first-year coach Sherman McBride, the Bridgers seek to break a 24-game losing streak ... Ambridge is 1-45 since the start of the 2016 season ... Ambridge's offensive line includes 6-foot-5, 325-pound senior Desmond Drew ... The team's skill players include a pair of seniors in QB Chris Sakony (5-11, 195) and RB Ben Cokrlic (6-1, 230).

Karns City (1-0) at Punxsutawney (0-0)

7 p.m., Friday

Karns City visited and downed Girard, 35-17, in its opener. Due to coronavirus concerns, Punxsy was forced to cancel its game against Central Clarion last week.

KC rumbled for 253 yards on the ground last Friday … FB Luke Garing found the end zone three times while RB Jayce Anderson paced the team in rushing with 84 yards on 7 carries … QB Eric Booher passed for a touchdown in the win.

Punxsutawney hasn't enjoyed a winning campaign since 2014 and is 1-17 over the past two seasons … Coach Alan Nichol plans on his offense using a quicker pace than in previous seasons … At QB, the Chucks are replacing Kameron Falgout, who led the team in both passing and rushing in 2020.

Sheffield (0-1) at Union/A-C Valley (0-1) 7 p.m., Friday in Foxburg

Sheffield fell, 49-6, to visiting Smethport last week. Union/ACV lost at Brockway, 28-20.

The Wolverines played just one game in 2020 — a lopsided loss to Keystone — before the program shut down for the season due to a very small roster.

Sophomore Dawson Camper (6-3, 210) scored all 3 TDs for the Falcon Knights, 2 on the ground and 1 on a short reception ... U/ACV rushed for 313 yards, but also had 4 passes intercepted.

Slippery Rock (1-0) at Sharpsville (1-0)

7 p.m., Saturday

Slippery Rock defeated Central Clarion last week, 38-7. Sharpsville slipped past Loudonville (OH) with a 7-6 decision.

Rockets' QB Will Mokel accounted for three TDs (2 passing, 1 rushing) last week. WR John Sabo tallied 3 catches for 81 yards and a TD while RB Shane Thompson scored twice, including a 66-yard run.

The Blue Devils pulled out their win late, with Caullin Summers' touchdown pass to Blaze Knight coming with just over a minute to play. Liam Campbell's PAT was the difference.

Sharpsville has entered a co-op with West Middlesex, which did not have enough players to field a full team this season.

Leechburg (1-0) at Summit Academy (0-1) 12:30 p.m., Saturday

Leechburg traveled to Greene County last week and dismantled Jefferson-Morgan, 69-16. Summit Academy opened the season with a 49-14 road loss to Avonworth.

Leechburg RB Braylan Lovelace rumbled for 216 yards on just 8 carries against J-M.

Summit's 2 TDs last week came from Correl Stanback on a 42-yard INT return and Raquiane Cosby on a 41-yard run.

Eagle intern Brendan Howe contributed to this report

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Derek Pyda

Derek Pyda

- Graduated from Connellsville High School in 1996
- Graduated from Clarion University in 2000 with a Bachelors in Communications
- Have also written for Clarion News (Clarion, PA) and the Herald-Standard (Uniontown, PA)
- Started at the Butler Eagle on April 2, 2002
- Interests include sports, history and geography