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2009 Monday Morning Ramblings

As we embark on the sixth football season of Trojan Nation coverage, it may (or may not) be a season of transition.  I have been spending many hours in the Cambria County Library doing microfilm research to fill in a lot of the blanks that are Johnstown High School athletics.  Although the focus of this site has always been (and will continue to be) football, I'm attempting to get as much information on boys' and girls' basketball for the history section of the site.  My goal is to get as much of the wins and losses compiled for both basketball programs that I can.  Unfortunately, many of the Spectator yearbooks are unreliable or don't have this information so as tedious as it is, I prefer to go the route of looking at old copies of the Tribune-Democrat.

My short-term goal is to have all the results of the Paul Litwalk era (1970-71 - 1996-97) as well as the entire history of girls' basketball (the program has only been in existence since the late 60s).

Aside from the hardwood, I'm compiling box scores for football and am putting an unofficial record book of sorts from this information.  What I am planning to do with this info is put together "stat sheets" for each season.  The only data that can be sorted from these are touchdowns, but still it's better than nothing (which, unfortunately, is pretty much what we've had for years).  However, by organizing all the newspaper stories from old games, there are chances of finding unofficial records.

That all being said, I am still planning on doing the same daily coverage during football for the current season.  That is, with one exception as I'll be discontinuing the Saturday Game Report.  The way I see it, it's redundant with the game stories that are published in the Saturday newspaper and rather than taking notes, I'd like to just sit back and relax and enjoy the game.  I will be sure to give my opinion on the game in MMR the following week though.

Speaking of opinion, it's no secret that I played nice last year.  More accurately the last year and a half after the loss to Somerset in 2007 when I really let my raw opinion out on the table for the last time.  I tried to turn a new leaf and I just don't see the benefit for me or the viewers of the site.  People tell me they follow TN for information on Trojans' sports that they just cannot get from anywhere else.  They are not looking for propaganda and that is why I am getting back to the site's independent roots.

Now, I am not saying I'm going to be a "Negative Nelly" 24/7, I'm simply going to offer my full opinion on things, both good and bad, with NO reservations.  "Loser talk" like "you don't know how hard the coaches are working" or "the coaches aren't going out there trying to lose" just are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.  If I slip into that behavior, please call me out on it.

Anyone that knows me, knows that my expectation is that JHS should be playing for the district title every year (especially in the 6-AAA environment as it is currently.)

As far as the 2009 version of the team is concerned, there is a lot of talent back on this roster.  The question mark will be the line play as the skill positions are loaded with talent. 

I did not attend either of the two preseason scrimmages, because for the most part, they are meaningless.  Let me rephrase that:  they are meaningless to people that are trying to gauge how good or bad a team is going to be on the season.  You're talking about teenage boys after one or two weeks of practice.  Also remember, most of the team's playbook on both sides of the ball hasn't been included as teams don't want to show too much.  The scrimmages are very important for the coaching staff.  They use them to gauge individual talent at many positions.  It's very similar to the NFL preseason.  You get to have a few borderline players work with the first unit.  You get to have some first teamers work more with all the units.  There are individual matchups you want to see as well.  This all makes for great stuff for coaches, but not much for the fan.  Look, I've seen a lot of teams that turned out to be very good play awful in their scrimmages and vice versa.  Anyone that thinks they can tell how good or bad a team is going to be from preseason scrimmages is out of their mind.

Now, moving on to other points of interest:

*****Message Board:  when I first started working on the rough draft of this post, I was going to entitle this section "Message Board Woes" because of the lack of activity in the re-opened message board during the off months after football was over.  However, there has been increased activity, for better or worse, as the season creeps up.  I welcome any and all posters to come and share their opinions, keep it clean and NO PERSONAL ATTACKS.

As for my posts, or better phrased, the posts as a whole and how they related to this website.  I'll say it one time, and one time only, the opinions of posts do not necessarily reflect my opinion.

*****Social Networking:  a few words on social networking and the Trojan Nation.  I've all but deleted the Trojan Nation MySpace page (MySpace, that's so four years ago!).  I refuse to get caught up in the facebook hype on a personal level so I'm not going to do for the website.

That all being said, I'm not completely anti-technology.  I have become a big fan of the site twitter.  If you follow me @dougkeklak I will be posting updates from any games I'm at under the hashtag #JHS.

*****Win #600:  the countdown is coming to an end and if the Trojans don't get the historic win in week one against Forest Hills, they more than likely will get it in week two against Cambria Heights.  Once that historic mark is achieved, we'll continue the march toward #700.

*****I am still writing for PennLive at the Southwest PA Sports Blog but I'm not sure for how much longer.  I am exploring new avenues and opportunities (I have the Kek's Korner blogspot account reserved in case I wish to use it - I will announce here if I do).  The SW PA blog has been on hiatus since early August but I will be back later this week with previews/recaps from LHAC games, Odds and Ends, This Week in twitter and all the other regular posts.  The reason I say that I'm not sure how much longer it will go on is a long story and I'll keep it short but I want to state it for the record because this is my website and mine alone.  However, at PennLive, I've been asked on two occasions to take down parts of posts because they were critical of a particular writer.

Now mind you, I've poked fun and been critical of two Presidents, a national NFL writer (Peter King of SI), several Post-Gazette writers up to and including the boss in David Shirbman, but say something about Colin Dunlap and all hell breaks loose.  Needless to say I'm very disappointed in being censored by PennLive, especially in this selective nature. 

*****Finally, a bit of housekeeping:  a work commitment make keep me from seeing most if not all of the Forest Hills game this Friday.  Of course I'm bumming, but real life comes first.  Either way, I'll still do my best to get the updates to twitter as I mentioned above.

Also, remember, no new content tomorrow.  Original Tuesday content doesn't start until after week three.

*****Paypal:  please don't forget the paypal donation button at the bottom of most pages.  Every little bit helps.

I was able to see the entire second half Friday night and was fortunate enough to listen to most of the first half on the radio so it wasn't too bad even though I would have much rather been at the stadium from the opening kickoff.  That being said, my impressions are that of someone that was not able to see the game in its entirety so my comments on it will be brief.
*****It seemed like turnovers played a key role in keeping the Trojans off the board in the first half.  Both the fumble and interception came at terrible times, especially the interception since it was deep in Forest Hills territory.  Would a 13-7 halftime score made that much of a difference?  It's hard to tell but not scoring in that instance killed any momentum the team could have taken into the half.
*****To say the offensive line is a work in progress would be an understatement.  I have to feel bad for John Siciliano because between designed runs, scrambling for his life and running to the sideline to get the next play, he had to be dead tired by the end of the contest. 
*****On a positive note, I was very pleased with the way the Trojans' drove on their only score of the night.  I turned to a friend when they got the ball at the beginning of said drive and said "this is the game for them right here, this is about pride, they have to get that zero off the scoreboard and avoid getting shut out."  That's exactly what they did.  Hopefully some good things can be seen on film from that drive and can be built upon in the weeks to come.
*****The defense was touted as the strength of this team and they looked very good at times, but very average at others.  When Forest Hills went into their running mode in the second half, they were able to establish the line of scrimmage with what appeared to be a smaller offensive line than normal (at least for them).  Even though they didn't put it into the end zone that fourth time, they ate up so much time off the clock that it would have been nearly impossible for the Trojans to comeback.
*****Last but not least, on the special teams side of things, I thought Siciliano did quite well in his debut as the Trojans' punter.  We'll have to see more of the placekicking and return game to make any judgments on them. 
With that all being said, let's take a look around the horn at the rest of the LHAC:
Bedford 14, Bishop Carroll 9
It's quite a mystery what has happened to the once-powerful BC program.  Paul Detwiler had 140 yards rushing and scored both TDs for the Bisons in the victory.   
Bishop McCort 52, Bishop Guilfoyle 15
All Crushers from the jump as Josh Seidel had 205 yards rushing and 4 TDs while Dane Domonkos had a kickoff return for a TD, a field goal and five PATs in the blowout.  A.J. Kitt and Tim Heiss scored the BG TDs.   
Penn Cambria 40, Westmont 12
Ernie Fetzer's Panthers established the ground game in a big way with his club amassing over 400 yards of rushing.  Zak Newton had 218 yards and one score while Adam Zalzinock rushed for 126 yards on the night.  Big Aaron McGee scored three touchdowns for PC in the win.   
Richland 34, Central Cambria 27
In quite possibly the best game of the LHAC for the opening week it seems odd to credit the Rams' rushing attack as they've been the most pass happy team in the conference for quite a few years.  John Rizzo, just a sophomore, rushed for 105 yards and 3 TDs as Richland won a close one with Central Cambria.   
Somerset 53, Cambria Heights 14
In a somewhat surprising result, at least the margin of victory, the Golden Eagles had no trouble with the Highlanders whatsoever.  Somerset QB Trevor Niemiec had 4 TDs and 198 yards rushing on the night.  Newspaper accounts said the Highlanders were overconfident and humbled, although I thought CH would win as well, I don't know how a program that has won so little as of recent memory could get overconfident.   
As for the District 6-AAA scene, only Indian Valley was able to secure a first week victory.  Below are quick recaps from those games:
Indian Valley 35, West Perry 14
As mentioned above, the Warriors were the only 6-AAA team to pick up a victory in week one.  They did with a stout running game as they had two backs break the century mark in Mitch Fultz (159) and QB Will Long (105).   
State College 57, Hollidaysburg 6
Nothing but a learning experience here for the Golden Tigers.  No one else in 6-AAA will play a tougher team this year than the Little Lions.  Luke Rhoads scored for the Golden Tigers to give them a 6-0 lead, but State High would score 57 unanswered points and cruise.  
St. Marys 51, Bellefonte 12
All Flying Dutchmen here as the Red Raiders were trounced on opening night.  Nate Shultz and Matt Watson scored the two Bellefonte TDs.  
And now for some final talking points heading into week two:
*****The JHS/Forest Hills game will be broadcast on Atlantic Broadband this Tuesday and Thursday (Johnstown cable system).  The Trojans' game against McCort later this year will also be aired.  Unfortunately, the LHAC is not represented in the statewide PCN Game of the Week.  Although that's a solid lineup of games, it's the first time I can remember that our region was left out.  
*****In other statewide type of info, be sure to check out Bill Shortencarrier's Short Picks.  Short picks games from all over the state each week and he's quite good.  His previews of the week to come are very entertaining.
*****Was that field turf I saw at Mansion Park?  No more old-school, superfast track astroturf in Altoona.  That's too bad for schools with mad speed because it gave quite the advantage.
*****Quite possible the best news heard in the stands at the game Friday night was when I was checking twitter and saw a message Eric Knopsnyder (more on him in a minute) that LaRod Stephens-Howling made the Arizona Cardinals' 53-man roster.  WAY TO GO ROD! 
*****If you are on twitter, do yourself a favor and subscribe right now to Eric Knopsnyder's feed.  Eric was tweeting nearly real-time scores from all the LHAC, WestPAC and Heritage Conference games. 
*****Obviously the Trojans did not achieve the 600th win in program history this past weekend.  They will go for number 600 this Friday at home against Cambria Heights.  The loss puts the program at 599-374-56 all time.
Wow.  What else can you can after the manhandling the Trojans gave the Highlanders Friday night.  Thank God for the running clock mercy-rule, that's all I have to say.  Now, to my random thoughts on the evening:

*****I'm sure there were breakdowns here and there, but to the naked eye, there really didn't seem to be a weak point in the game for the Trojans.  The offense was running with great execution, the defense was stout and opportunistic and the special teams were good, both in kick coverage and extra points.  The coverage teams had to be getting tired after a while but they set the defense up with some great field position and the extra point kicking, while not perfect, was good despite the weather conditions.

*****I turned to a friend at the game and said "you know, I'd be perfectly fine if we did not throw one pass this entire game."  John Siciliano threw exactly one pass, and it went for a score to Richard Agurs!

*****Third times a charm!  The Trojans finally reach their coveted 600th win in program history.  After falling to Hollidaysburg last year in the district title game and Forest Hills to start this season off, JHS made history.  It was nice that they were able to do it in front of the home crowd at Trojan Stadium.  I thought Coach Marabito's comments were very classy about dedicating the win to all those that played and coached at the school.

*****Speaking of class, the Trojans could have easily put 60 points on the board in the first half.  However, Marabito opted to run a few quarterback sneaks which acted pretty much as taking a knee after the Trojans returned an interception deep into Cambria Heights territory. 

*****On the flip side, tell me I did not see Justin Myers send his field goal kicker out on a fourth down trailing 53-0 in the second half.  Yikes!

*****No other real analysis of this game need, but I will say something intangible.  I think the Trojans did a great job beating a team they should have.  In the past, I have been told "it's hard getting kids motivated to play [enter bad team here]" but that didn't seem like the case Friday night.  I'm sure being on the short end of the stick after week one had a lot to do with that, but past Trojan teams have had the tendency to let lesser teams hang with them through the first half.  The Highlanders weren't even close to being in this game.  Great job all around!

Now, to our weekly breakdown of the rest of the LHAC:

Bishop McCort 35, Penn Cambria 6
All Crushers from the jump here (so much for my upset special!).  Josh Seidel had 134 yards and 3 TDs on 13 carries while QB John Pinkerton hooked up with Dane Domonkos for touchdown passes twice as McCort improved to 2-0.

Bishop Guilfoyle 9, Somerset 6
Jacob Dunning's 27-yard field goal with just about a minute left in the game was the difference in a game that was hampered with turnovers.  Eugene Ehredt scored a touchdown for BG, while Gunnar Smith did the same for the Golden Eagles.

Richland 35, Bedford 0
On a night Richland honored their original football team and other assorted cast members from their history, the current crop of Rams put on quite the show, shutting out the visiting Bisons.  John Rizzo had three touchdowns in the winning effort.

Forest Hills 13, Bishop Carroll 7
The Rangers survived a scare but improved to 2-0.  Zack Glessner and Nick Dudukovich scored the TDs for the Rangers while Shawn Perich scored for the Huskies.  D.J. Burkey had two interceptions on the defensive side of the ball for Forest Hills.

Central Cambria 10, Westmont 6 
Wrapping up the LHAC week two docket was this matinee which saw the Red Devils overcome a 6-0 halftime deficit to score the non-section victory.  Blake Bussard scored a touchdown while Austin Crimmons converted the PAT and later booted a 30-yard field goal to cement the victory.  Bussard was 9-for-15 passing with 110 yards.  Steven Popchak had the Hilltoppers' lone touchdown. 

Wrapping up, our breakdown of the rest of the 6-AAA scene:

Central 28, Indian Valley 7
All Scarlet Dragons here as QB Lucas Runk was 11-for-13 for 112 yards and 2 TDs in the win.  The lone IV score was late in the game when Cody Heane connected with Aaron Reed for a 50-yard TD pass.

Bellefonte 40, Brookville 34
Thrilling, double-overtime win for the Red Raiders as they were paced by QB Ty Warner.  He had four touchdowns and 121 yards on a 6-for-13 passng performance. 

South Western 34, Hollidaysburg 14
John Muir and Luke Rhoads scored first half touchdowns but the Golden Tigers were shut out in the second half as the Mustangs cruised to victory. 

That's all for this Monday morning, on to the Hilltop!
 *****I'll start this week off with a small bit of housekeeping and disclose that I only saw the first half of the game.  I know what you're thinking, "Gee Kek, would it hurt you to stay for a full game!"  Look, give a guy a break, I was heading down to see Pitt play and with a 6:00 kickoff and traffic woes as they are here in the burgh, I thought it would be fine to leave since I had such high confidence that the Trojans had the game in hand, which they did!  Now, on to the brief analysis:

*****It was great to see the Trojans beat another team that they far outranked on paper.  Picking up where they left off last week in dismantling Cambria Heights a week ago, the team looked and played the part of the better team.  The score really didn't reflect this game from a competitive standpoint.  The Trojans had a few hiccups in the first half as far as fumbles and penalties (although some of those were questionable) and the score could have easily been 40-0 at the half.

*****Although I was glad the offense didn't have to threw much against Cambria Heights it was nice to see them in a more balanced attack against the Hilltoppers.  And well they should of as Westy is a slightly better squad than CH, although not by that much, it was fine to open the playbook up a little more.  Richard Agurs is a hell of a weapon to have and through the first two game he only had two catches so it was imperative that he got more touches.

*****Defensively I really wished the unit could have gotten the shutout, and I'm sure they do too.  They played extremely well in the half I saw, picking up right where they left off.  If you're anything like me, you pinch yourself every time you see Alkwon Williams make a play, realizing he's just a freakin' sophomore!  Seriously, how scary good is this kid going to be come the 2011 season?

*****The return game was nice for the Trojans as well as Jordan Jefferson turned a near disaster into a huge field position advantage.  When your defense is playing as well as they are, it's nice to see the teams' units pitch in on the field position battle.

*****I'd also like to take a deep breath and just say that finally JHS beat a Westmont team, especially at Westmont!  It seems like forever since it's happened and there is no excuse for a district like them to have dominated the Trojans since they entered the LHAC.  Hopefully this will start a longer streak in the other direction.

*****A final note on the game, and maybe it's just because I hate Saturday games (high school is made for Friday night, under the lights), maybe I don't like cruising around Luzerne Street looking for a parking space, but with a such an advantage with the tax base Westmont has (just drive around and look at the homes people), they should be flat out embarrassed to have their football team playing at Price Field. 

*****On the flip side, there's Richland.  As I often do when the Trojans play a Saturday contest, I take in another local game in the area and so Friday night I was in attendance as the Rams hosted Bishop Carroll.  The Rams' facilities are totally first-class and each time I come home from a game up there I tell my mother her taxes dollars are hard at work and she should be proud to have what they've built up there.  So, to the game, call it a little advanced scouting or whatever, but it was a beautiful picture perfect night for football.  I took two things away from this game:  Bishop Carroll is awful.  If the Trojans don't beat them by three scores or more I'll be totally surprised.  The other:  Richland is pretty darn good.  They have some very athletic kids and a quarterback in Gino Ramires that can really throw the deep ball.  Plus, this season they've been able to run with more success than they have in past seasons.  I'm not saying they're going to beat the Trojans, but this could be an exciting game to watch.

Also, I have to give props to Tom Fleming for letting me check out the first half with him in the best seat in the house:  on top of the press box.  The best open air private box in the entire conference! 

Now for the weekly recap on the rest of the action in the LHAC:

Richland 29, Bishop Carroll 10
Rams' QB Gino Ramires was 20-for-33 for 236 yards and three touchdowns as Richland cruised in a game that was not as close as that score makes it look.  Brandon Bailey's squad improves to 3-0 and will take on Johnstown at Trojan Stadium Friday night.

Bishop McCort 38, Somerset 0
Ken Salem's Crushers pitch the shutout as Josh Seidel gained 117 yards on 10 carries and three touchdowns while wide receiver/kicker Dane Domonkos added another feather in his cap as he took snaps in a wildcat formation. 

Forest Hills 41, Bedford 7
This game is a shadow of what it once was as the Bisons' program has fallen on tough times.  Nick Dudukovich carried the rock 13 times for 117 yards while Zack Glessner had two touchdown passes as well as one on the ground in the big victory.  Wide receiver Chris Moss had 100 yards on seven receptions in the blowout.  Paul Detwiler's 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown spoiled the Rangers' shutout bid.

Penn Cambria 26, Central Cambria 20
The Goal Post Trophy will be in Cresson this year as the Panthers outlasted Central Cambria in what was the most entertaining game of the week, with several lead changes.  Again, it was Zak Newton was the workhorse carrying the ball an amazing 38 times for 226 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

Bishop Guilfoyle 49, Cambria Heights 20
The Highlanders remain winless as Eugene Ehredt gained 242 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns in the BG win. 

Let's also take a look at the other 6-AAA scores from the past weekend:

Central 54, Bellefonte 14
For the second week in a row, the Scarlet Dragons have their way with a Class AAA school.  In a game that a power outage forced to be played over the course of two days, Central QB Lucas Runk was 9-for-13 passing for 249 yards in the win. 

Clearfield 48, Indian Valley 33
The Bisons scored five unanswered touchdowns in a second half comeback that dropped IV to 1-2 on the season.

West Chester Henderson 28, Hollidaysburg 7
The Golden Tigers open up their treacherous schedule at 0-3 after dropping this one to a district one foe.  Don't let the record fool you, they are still a good squad.

That's all for this Monday, but remember, tomorrow will be the first installment of "Numberology" where we breakdown the points table of District 6-AAA. 

So, I went a little covert after Friday night's game.  I didn't really check that much email.  I tried to stay away from twitter.  I most definitely wanted to stay away from either my message board or Bleacher Coaches or anywhere else on the Internet.  I had opinions on the game but I opted not to get involved with those types of things because I wanted to wait for the emotion to wear down. 

Now that it's Sunday night, I'll get into things, and I'll start with the positive. 

*****What an absolute great job from the defense.  The Rams came into the game with the most prolific passing attack in the league and were held to just 30 yards through the air and just one first down.  It should be noted, that first down was made on the last play of the half.  I don't believe a pass was completed against LaQuinn Stephens-Howling the entire contest.  He and the rest of the secondary did an outstanding job.  Also, it had been stressed in three previous contests that the Rams weren't one-dimensional this season and that big sophomore John Rizzo was the real deal.  If you read last week's Scouting Report, you'll know that I'm not surprised in one bit that Rizzo running between the tackles was not going to work.  In fact, the only successful running the Rams were able to muster was when Ramires tucked and ran on designed plays. 

Also, what a motor on Alkwon Williams.  Wow.  I just can't say enough about this kid.  Not only does he make a pick, but he was being held consistently and still making plays.  I've also noticed he's been getting some reps at the tight end spot.  Although I'm sure he's there for the time being as an added blocker, he's athletic enough that I wouldn't mind seeing him get some catches (I'd still like to see him get a few cracks as a power runner and with the extent of the Kashmir Pretlor in question, who knows, we might see it). 

*****Offensively, it's tough to go into panic mode.  I thought that Siciliano threw the ball quite well, especially the deep ball.  This game is an example of why you have to take care of the ball.  The two turnovers in the third quarter were much bigger than any other issues (which I'll get to in a minute).  That being said, the execution of the offense and Siciliano running and passing and the outside runs from Stephens-Howling and Jordan Jefferson were connecting.  The problem was the unit, for a variety of reasons, didn't finish.  They've done a fine job since week one and I think they need to just keep plugging away.

*****What an amazing effort from Richard Agurs on the blocked field goal return at the end of regulation.  Let me just say this, I was sitting with a family member on the Richland side for the second half and you could hear a collective "oh no" when that wall formed along the visitors' sideline as he cut back across the field.  Props to him and props to the Richland kids that chased him down, pinning him on the sideline.  There was talk about the tackle being a horsecollar.  Many I talked to thought it was, but I'm not so sure and not prepared to say anything about that without seeing a better view of the play.  (Great job not getting the potential game winning field goal on tape for the highlight package WJAC).  You can't end the half or game on a defensive penalty so there would have been one, untimed down and you just never know. 

*****Now, I have to get to some coaching decisions.  I know most people think I'm going to question the going for two in the overtime, but that's actually not what I'm going to start with.  I'll get to that in a bit.  I'm actually more puzzled by the going for two after the first touchdown when the Trojans went up 6-0.  I know Coach Marabito said Oskar Almgren was banged up during the week but I still think you have to use him.  Everyone I was with was puzzled beyond belief when the Trojans went for two after that first score.  Several said "don't we have a kicker" or "where's the kicker" or "is the kicker hurt".  I calmly said, "no, he's right down there holding his orange tee ready to go kickoff."  The fact that his kickoff reached the goal line was even more frustrating.  I don't think I'm the only one as a saw a few assistant coaches arguing with each other on the sideline after the try for two was no good. 

The reason I hate this move is two-fold, first of all you put tremendous pressure on the team in a close game to have to go for two and make it.  Props to the kids for executing the two-point play and in my mind, bailing the coach out. 

The other reason is, banged up or not, Almgren is 8-for-13 on extra points this season.  That's pretty darn good for a high school kid.  I know it's not automatic, but I like those chances.  This leads me to a general point of irritation I've had with the kicking game for the past five years or so.  I felt that Bob Arcurio left a lot of field goal attempts on the field when he had a more than capable kicker in Ben Landis.  For so many years the Trojans had subpar kicking or no kickers at all.  I remember when Jerry Davitch said that they should put a plaque up at the Point Stadium when Spanish exchange student Arturo Vega hit three PATs in one game back in 1990.  Now, when we have three good kickers in a row, I hate to see opportunities wasted. 

Before I get to overtime, I briefly want to address some of the offensive play calling and I do this with hesitation because I really haven't thought too much negative in this aspect and I definitely think it's been an improvement over the last few years.  That being said, I was a bit miffed at all the deep balls being thrown, especially at the end of the half.  It's almost as if we were trying to prove to Richland that our quarterback has a gun too, which he does!  However, there was time on the clock and room to get a first down and a more manageable score before the half.  After one shot to the endzone for the home run pass didn't connect, maybe we should have dialed it back a bit and tried to pick up another set of downs.  Aside from the third quarter turnover disaster, not scoring before the first half was a turning point in the game and a big key to Richland's win.

Now to overtime, I'm not a big fan of going for two in the first overtime.  If you want to do that in the second or third that's fine.  (I'm not sure if it works like college but teams may be forced to go for two after the third OT).  I just think you play for another chance in overtime after the first.  Who knows, your defense can make a stop and then going for one or two is a moot point.  I'm not going to dwell on this point because like I said, I was more bothered with the 2-point try after the first score.  That being said, I want to say one thing about a quote from Coach Marabito in the paper.  Following the game, he said, "We felt we could put it on one person’s shoulders or put it on 11 persons’ shoulders" when asked about his decision to go for the win.  Umm.....what?  Do I have to remind you that 11 players are on the field for an extra point attempt too?  Sure, the kicker has the bulk of the responsibility on a kick but there are nine men on the line that need to block not to mention a snapper and holder that need to do their job as well.  The 1991 Trojans know this all too well as an extra point attempt was blocked in a playoff game with Montour because a lineman missed their assignment and guess what?  The Trojans lost that game by one point. 

In closing this point, I just want to stress that I'm not putting this loss totally on coaching.  Coaches don't drop passes and turn the ball over, but this is a team effort and the buck stops at the top. 

*****Another bitter pill to swallow in this loss is the missed opportunity in points in the playoff scene. 

*****It was tough when the program lost its first game against Somerset two years ago and losing to Richland for the first time this year is just as tough. However, it's not time to get discouraged, and we'll get more into this on Thursday for the Scouting Report, but this week we have Somerset and their option attack with quarterback Trevor Niemiec.  The team cannot look past the Golden Eagles.  Niemiec rushed put over 200 yards on the ground and no matter how better you think you are than a team, if they play option you have to play assignment, disciplined defense. 

*****I'll end the week's ramble on a positive, small issue.  I really liked the banners (We Are Johnstown, Trojan Army and Trojan Band) that were hung from the bleachers on the home side.  They were huge and looked great as I made my way to the stadium.  Good job to whoever was responsible for that. 

Let's take a look around the rest of the LHAC:

Bishop McCort 28, Bishop Carroll 6
The Crimson Crushers improved to 4-0 with an easy victory over Bishop Carroll.  Again, the run game was big for Ken Salem's squad as Josh Seidel carried the ball 16 times for 118 yards in the victory.  

Central Cambria 42, Cambria Heights 21
The Red Devils doubled up the Highlanders Friday night as Max Michkofsky rushed for 120 yards and 2 TDs in the win.  

Penn Cambria 22, Bedford 20
Another close one for Ernie Fetzer's club as the Panthers outlasted the Bisons by two points.  Another uberworkman-like performance from Zak Newton as he carried the ball 36 times for 226 yards and 2 TDs in the win.  

Somerset 35, Westmont 27
Big time ground attack out of the option for the Golden Eagles in the victory as QB Trevor Niemic rushed for 206 yards, including scores from 26 and 84 yards out.  He also connected with Dylan Cramer for a 7-yard TD pass.  Fullback Gunnar Smith had 137 yards and 2 scores on the ground.

Forest Hills 29, Bishop Guilfoyle 7
No problem in the Saturday Night Special as the Rangers improve to 4-0 at Mansion Park over BG.  Anthony Unger scored on runs of 50 and 65 yards.  

...and now for our quick look at 6-AAA:

Hollidaysburg 49, Bellefonte 21
The Golden Tigers finally get off the schnide as Luke Rhodes put on quite the performance rushing for 130 yards on only seven carries and scored four TDs in the win over the Red Raiders.

DuBois 38, Indian Valley 21
The Beavers used ball-control run first offense to defeat IV.  QB Josh Means (21 carries, 159 yards, 2 TDs) and Cam Kelly (15 carries, 159 yards, 3 TDs) led the way for DuBois.

*****A final bit of housekeeping:  I will not be attending the game Friday night with Somerset as I'll be at Mellon Arena checking out the home opener of the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins.  Yes, I love my Trojans, but it's a once in a lifetime thing to see a Stanley Cup banner being raised in the home arena. 
*****I am not going to have too much to discuss this week as I wasn't at the game.  I hate to miss a Trojan game but having tickets to the final home opener for the Pens at Mellon Arena as well as seeing the Stanley Cup banner raised before the game, I just could not pass that up.

*****The Tribune-Democrat story of the game with Somerset mentioned John Siciliano lining up as running back.  I'm not sure if Pretlor is still injured or if he played in the game Friday but it's no secret that Siciliano is the team's best runner.  Yes, Jefferson and Stephens-Howling have made good runs but their athletic prowess is more wide receiver-related.  Will we see some wildcat with Siciliano coming in motion?  Only time will tell.

*****118 yards of penalties is obviously way too much and you might be able to pull that off against Somerset or Bishop Carroll but against the better teams left on the Trojans' schedule that just won't fly. 

*****I didn't like the quote in the paper from Marabito because of one word.  "They can’t keep making mistakes like that," was the quote.  Sure he's right, but still, that should be "we".  Behind closed doors, you can say this, but in the public you have to represent it differently.  I know coaches don't drop passes, turn the ball over or commit penalties, but the buck still stops with the head coach. 

*****The sting of the Richland loss in the points battle continues to hurt.  I'll break down more of this in Numberology tomorrow but although JHS is still in first place in the points hunt, it's a fifty point margin but could be double that.  Add to that Hollidaysburg has a considerably easier schedule from this point out than the Trojans, it is a distinct possibility that the Trojans could drop to second place in the 6-AAA standings.

*****I would like to take this chance to thank Brenda King for providing me with my missing JV scores.  Coaches have not responded to my repeated emails so I thank you very much for helping me promote all the football teams in the program.

*****I want to take a moment and talk about the archives section.  You may have seen that I have "coming soon" on the 2009 Archives page.  I plan on putting all this year's content in that page at the end of the season.  I am doing something different this year in that rather than writing my documents on Microsoft Word and saving them to my computer's hard drive, I am using Google Docs and saving everything through their servers (or "cloud computing" as you computer geeks might call it).  Anyway, no worries, all the content will be there, I'm just going to wait until the season is over to do this.

Now, let's take a look around the rest of the LHAC and 6-AAA scene:

Bishop McCort 69, Richland 35
In an emotional performance, Josh Seidel broke his late father's record by rushing the ball 29 times for 327 yards and six touchdowns in the Crimson Crushers' blowout of Richland. 

Central Cambria 25, Bedford 12
Joe Bono rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown while the Red Devils' picked off three Bisons' passes in the victory.

Forest Hills 36, Cambria Heights 6
No contest here as Nick Dudukovich continues his stellar rushing season with 173 yards while Zack Glessner threw for 117 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

Penn Cambria 36, Bishop Guilfoyle 13
Zak Newton continues to have a season of freakish proportions.  He split time between running back and quarterback, rushed for four touchdowns and threw for another en route to PC's victory.  The senior rushed for 158 yards against the BG defense.

Westmont 21, Bishop Carroll 16
In a battle of "something's got to give", someone was going to get their maiden victory of the season.  It was the home Hilltoppers that bested the Huskies in Saturday matinee. 

Hollidaysburg 42, Indian Valley 7
Quarterback James Muir rushed the ball 16 times for 136 yards and two touchdowns as the Golden Tigers cruised to an easy victory.

Philipsburg-Osceola 28, Bellefonte 0
P-O sported throwback jerseys and took back the Luther Trophy in this rivalry game against Bellefonte.  The Mounties rushed for over 300 yards as a team in the victory over the Red Raiders.
Sorry this is late, real life kind of got in the way.  Combine that with a holiday Monday that had me on the road for most of the afternoon, well, it's a late edition of MMR.  Monday Evening Ramblings if you will.

Now, some quick hits:

*****I was running a little late Friday night and much to my happiness, the Trojans were up 23-0 when I got to St. Francis Friday night.  No complaints here!

*****WCRO is normally a pretty weak frequency so I don't know if it was the fact of the rain and darkness, but I kept the signal all the way to exit on 219 to pick up 22.  I really didn't miss that much action. 

*****It was great to see Sisco get so involved in the passing game.  This kid is a great weapon, he's built more like a tight end but can get out in the patterns like a wideout should. 

*****Speaking of the passing game, I thought it was great that on a terrible night from a weather standpoint, the Trojans were able to throw the ball probably the best they have all season.

*****The victory was the second shutout of the season for the Trojans.  This marks the first time they've had more than one shutout in a single season since 2004.  That was the year the Trojans won the 6-AAA title and they shutout five teams that season.  It is also the third time the Trojans have shutout the Huskies and the second year in a row.

*****I have to admit I cringed when I heard that Roger Fox's crew was officiating the game.  This crew, and Fox in general are traditionally awful and at the least controversial.  It's a good thing this wasn't a close game because you hate to see poor officiating affect a game.  There were three calls I had question with.  First, the pass interference call on Bishop Carroll to a pass that was intended, I believe, for Sisco.  It didn't look like he or the BC CB even touched each other.  If that wasn't bad, the flag came from the side judge?  Second, Alkwan's hit in the second half that appeared to be a clean causing of a fumble was blown as down by contact.  Maybe viewing a replay of that would prove it was right, but man it looked wrong.  Lastly is one I'm questioning because I'm not iron clad on the rule.  Why did Fox blow the play dead when the PAT snap went over the holder's head and Oskar was chasing it?  I know the college rule of returning the ball for two points doesn't apply but don't the offensive team get a chance to complete that play for two?

*****As a general, thinking out loud question, what the heck has happened to the Bishop Carroll program?  They went from a perennial power in Class A to, quite frankly, a walkover.  They only have 25 players dressed for varsity and only one freshmen boy so the junior high season has been canceled.  They've been down on numbers in the past few years as has been seen in their struggle to field 7th and 8th grade teams.  Are that many kids leaving the Catholic school and going the public route?  Besides Brendan Julock who went back to Blacklick Valley, I can't think of any other kids of his stature that left BC.  Also, it's not as if we've seen a skyrocketing of improvement for the public schools that one would associate most BC kids come from (Blacklick, Central Cambria and Penn Cambria are the ones that come to mind to me). 

*****I thought it was a nice homecoming ceremony for BC, extra neat that they brought four past winning queens.  I found it amusing that the rain stopped for the announcements but then started back up, almost on cue, when the players came out of the locker room to warm up.

*****Last observation from Friday night, what was the deal with those moths?  I kept my umbrella up after the rain started because those sons of b's were dive bombing the heck out of me!  I didn't think they came out in such rain.

Recap of the week in LHAC and 6-AAA:

Bishop McCort 41, Westmont 14
Dane Domonkos had 106 yards rushing and scored two touchdowns and kicked five extra points as the Crimson Crushers beat their rivals from the hilltop.  In the process, Domonkos broke the school record for scoring held by Pete Duranko. 

Forest Hills 21, Central Cambria 0
In a mud-caked game, the Rangers improved 6-0 and their stout defense pitched a shutout.  Anthony Unger had two rushing touchdowns while Zach Glessner ran a QB sneak for a third in the win.

Penn Cambria 38, Cambria Heights 0
More of the ground attack of Ernie Fetzer's Panthers as Adam Zaliznock rushed for 185 yards while Zak Newton pitched in with 156 yards of his own as these backs combined for four TDs (two apiece) as PC shut out the Highlanders.

Richland 29, Somerset 0
Gino Ramires had 109 yards passing while sophomore running back John Rizzo had two touchdowns as the Rams cruised past the Golden Eagles.

Bishop Guilfyole 32, Bedford 22
Big win for the Marauders as Eugene Ehredt had 196 yards and 3 TDs en route to victory.  Quarterback Marcus Shippey had 120 yards passing for the Bisons in the losing effort.

Hollidaysburg 20, Central Mountain 17
QB James Muir rushed the ball 21 times for 134 yards and one touchdown and was a perfect 6-for-6 passing as the Golden Tigers came back in the second half to triumph over the Quad-A Wildcats. 

Huntingdon 27, Indian Valley 20
Junior Mitch Fultz had a valiant effort (19 carries, 150 yards, 2 touchdowns) but the Warriors could not outlast the Bearcats.  In the win, Huntingdon coach Jim Zauzig achieved his 100th victory.

DuBois 20, Bellefonte 6
Ty Warner hit Zach Tressler from 21 yards out for the only Red Raider score of the evening as the Beavers got the best of them.  Warner's 53 yards rushing were a team best. 

Well, we're off to a big week for the Trojans.  They have their toughest opponent of the year in Bishop McCort.  What is the difference between the Trojans being 5-2 and 4-3?  We shall see. 

I'm not writing the column I expected to today.  Yes, the Trojans lost again to Bishop McCort.  I expected that to happen.  There, I said it.  It doesn't make a traitor or a turncoat, it makes me a realist.  Now, that doesn't mean that I'm not cheering the team on and hoping and praying for a victory every single week.  It just means that I'm talking as an objective analyst. 

Now, do I think there are 19-points worth of better talent on McCort's roster than Johnstown's?  Not in the slightest.  You can take that however you want to and feel free to read between the lines if you wish. 

To the point of this open, I know JHS fans shouldn't be into moral victories but I have to give nothing but praise to give the team and coaching staff for the second half performance.  Not only did the Trojans not give up but they actually outplayed the Crushers in the half.  I know, that and fifty cents will get you a cup of coffee, but from the way this game started, it could have easily been in the 50s or 60s and a zero on the scoreboard for the Trojans.  I have nothing but props for everyone that decided not to pack it in down 26-0 at the half.  This was still a fun, entertaining game to watch.  I do have one question mark from the coaching side of things, and I'll get to that in a bit, but overall, I think the kids should hold their heads high.  Yes, it sucks to lose to those guys, AGAIN, but I appreciate and applaud the effort.

I know most think I'm a walking contradiction and normally I'd blast quotes like “I’m proud of our kids. They played hard. That’s all you can ever ask," but this week, Coach Marabito, I have no problem whatsoever with them.

On an individual basis, I want to point out one player and one unsung duty in the game of football.  I don't know why, but for some reason I was watching Daveon Simms run down and cover kicks and boy, you can put the film of him on and watch exactly what a wedge-buster is supposed to do.  Not once, but twice Simms ran down full speed with no fear and busted up McCort's wedge.  Although he didn't make the tackle, he did his job in blowing up the blocking and the Trojans coverage unit held the Crushers to limited yardage.  Great job Daveon!


It's no secret that committing nine turnovers isn't going to win games against average teams let alone great ones like McCort.  This leads to my one question mark.  I say question mark instead of criticism because I don't know all the facts behind the decision.  However, after his fumble that led to a McCort touchdown, quarterback John Siciliano was benched in favor of Jordan Jefferson until late in the half when Siciliano re-appeared as a wideout and then came back into the game in the second half.  I get sitting a player if he's making a mistake that he's made in the past but I think the point was made and to put Jordan Jefferson in the position that he was thrown into was unfair to him individually and the team.  Yes, Jefferson has gotten reps at QB, but he has mainly been a WR for a long time now. 

Do I think not benching Siciliano would have made a difference?  Probably not, but you have to put the team in the best position to win.  As long as he wasn't hurt put him back in there after a few series off.


I'm beginning to side with some of my friends that would like to see more of the short passing game from the Trojans.  Especially against "better" opponents where running a traditional, tackle-to-tackle running game is going to be tough going.  I would totally be in favor of a different kind of three or four yards and a cloud of dust via the passing game.  It's somewhat of a hybrid of the west coast offense but I think it could work.  Would the game against Forest Hills week one been closer had the Trojans gone this route?  Probably.  Heck they might even have pulled it out.  Sisco and Agurs are a great tandem of receivers and Sisco normally has a height advantage against anyone he plays against.  If you couple short passes with the spread offense running, utilizing speed on the outside, I think that's a great combination.  You don't have to run the ball out of an I-formation to move the chains and grind it out. 


I've praised Ken Salem a lot in the past and in my mind, deservedly so.  He's built quite an impressive program at McCort.  That being said, a lot of things the team did had me scratching my head Friday.  Now, by no means am I saying our coaching staff outcoached theirs, I'm just saying that I thought some mistakes were made in a few instances.  Although I don't believe Salem is the offensive playcaller, the ultimate responsibility lies with him so I have to direct this stuff at him.  With Pinkerton out at QB and Domonkos filling in, it's tough for me to see them putting their best receiver in that position to do anything other than run the ball and hand off yet they had him passing at some inopportune times.  Twice driving for scores, Domonkos was picked off.  One was returned 91 yards to the house by LaQuinn Stephens-Howling.  I thought they got too cute for their own good and who knows what happens if we recover that onsides kick.  For instance, while your team is running the ball with great success, at first and ten from the 11 rather than keep pounding it, you go on a hard count to draw the Trojans offside and get first and goal.  Then, you throw?  I also thought the fake punt that was messed up was a dumb call.  Just punt the ball deep and pin us back. 


Once again, the Crimson Crushers are the kings of the city as they've swept the series with Richland, Westmont and Johnstown yet again.  Since Johnstown joined the LHAC in 2001 the Crushers have yet to lose to Westmont and have only lost to Richland and Johnstown once each.  In that timeframe, the Crushers have outscored those three scores 970-307.  What makes this all the more impressive is that McCort has only 160 enrollment for the current period while Richland has 238, Westmont has 246 and Johnstown has 393.  The three schools have an average enrollment for this period of 293, that's 133 more than McCort has.  Say what you will about the "R" word, but that's still impressive.


Section play is over in the LHAC now and there is a question to be answered:  if Forest Hills and Bishop McCort both finish undefeated, who is the league champ or do they do co-champs?  McCort and Forest Hills do not meet head-to-head on the field during the regular season this year so it can't be handled on the field. 


Just a reminder, the Johnstown-McCort game will be on Atlantic Broadband on Tuesday and Thursday in the Johnstown area this week. 


Due to the inclement weather in the central portion of the state Thursday and Friday, some games were postponed until tonight.  For this reason, Numberology might be later in the day Tuesday rather than late tonight.  Both Bellefonte and Indian Valley's game were postponed.


OK, time for our weekly look around the rest of the LHAC and the one other 6-AAA game that took place:

Central Cambria 13, Bishop Guilfoyle 7
Max Michkofsky paced the Red Devils with 101 yards rushing and 1 touchdown on 10 carries as Central Cambria improved to 4-3 on the season.

Forest Hills 27, Penn Cambria 6
Don Baliey's Rangers remain undefeated as they took care of the Panthers.  Zack Glessner was 11-of-18 for 151 yards and 1 touchdown in the victory.  (So much for my upset special!)

Somerset 20, Bishop Carroll 11
Craig Sponsky's Huskies remain winless as Gunnar Smith, Mitchell Merryman and Justin Schrock scored the Golden Eagles' three touchdowns.

Bedford 42, Cambria Heights 24
Paul Detwiler rushed the ball 20 times for 185 yards while teammate Kyle Deneen returned an interception 101 yards for a score in the Bisons' victory.  In the losing effort, CH quarterback Caleb Vescovi was 18-for-36 for 332 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

Richland 42, Westmont 14
Last but not least was the Saturday matinee at Price Field.  Jordan Cinko, in a relief QB effort, rushed 12 times for 107 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Rams rallied in the second half for an easy win over the Hilltoppers.

Hollidaysburg 45, Cardozo (DC) 14
Not much to report here other than the score as the Golden Tigers travel to our nation's capital and get a win and remain in first place in the 6-AAA standings. 
Wow.  All you can say about Friday night's game with Bishop Guilfoyle is total domination.  The Trojans out-gained the Marauders in total yards 457-6.  They had 19 first downs to BG's 2.  BG RB Huey Ehredt had -4 yards rushing. 

So the Trojans finish a three-week stretch of playing "Bishops" and went 2-1.  The shutout of BG was the third of the season.  The Trojans haven't had three shutouts in season since their District 6-AAA championship season of 2004 when they shut out four opponents. 


How cool was it to see big lineman Dejaur Morris get a rushing touchdown in the early going Friday night?!  It was a nice reward for a guy that's played very well during his varsity career.  I think he should get more touches in short yardage, it looked like he wasn't going to be denied.


Although he didn't get in the end zone, Ryan Sisco had a nice game with 4 catches for 72 yards, a team high.  He may line up wide most of the time, but Sisco has been an outstanding possession receiver this year for the Trojans.  He's been a great complement to Agurs.


I'd also like to give props to placekicker Oskar Almgren.  For the second time this season, he's kicked extra points extremely well in adverse weather conditions.  He was a combined 7-for-9 in two games, BC and BG, in games where rain was more than a minor factor. 


Once again I want to give a thumbs-up to Coach Marabito and the staff.  This is yet another contest that the Trojans won with ease against an inferior opponent.  Like Cambria Heights, Somerset and Bishop Carroll, this was a foe we should have easily beaten...and we did.  I've said in previous MMR columns as well as the message board:  these are games we should win big and we did.  In the past, I've heard things like "it's hard to get the team up to play against a team like Somerset."  It seems like none of that is present this year.

Say what you will about some of the disappointments and set-backs of the '09 season, but you can say this:  our team went out and beat up on the teams they should have and that deserves some recognition.  Well done guys.


I would like to take a moment to do something I normally don't on this site:  recognize the band.  I think there should be a moratorium on people saying "I can't believe how small our band is" from now on.  This writer included.  I don't know if it's because the acoustics are poor at Trojan Stadium, superior at Mansion Park or a combination of both, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Trojan Band's performance Friday night.  Your numbers may be small, but you sounded great and looked great. 


A final note from Altoona:  you would have never known the Marauders were trailing 35-0 at the half from the way their fans.  They cheered and rang their cowbells for their guys nonetheless.  That's great spirit and a lesson a lot of fans could learn. 


Before the weekly look-around at the LHAC and 6-AAA scene, a few bullet points of housekeeping.  First, there will not be anymore Numberology columns this year.  Bellefonte and Indian Valley are both 1-7 teams.  A school policy that states Bellefonte has to be at .500 or above has eliminated them and I have it on pretty good authority that IV won't be participating either.

Therefore, even though JHS could pass up Hollidaysburg in the points, it really is a moot point.  As it stands right now unofficially, week 11 will be an off week for both teams with the championship game being played during week 12 at Mansion Park.  Since it's a neutral field, the only difference in who is one or two is what side of the stadium you'll be on and what color uniforms you'll wear.  (Let's be honest, it really doesn't matter, because it's damn near a home game for Hollidaysburg anyway!) 

The other note is that I will not be attending the game this Friday at Penn Cambria.  My Friday and Saturday are taken with other plans on a personal level.  Also, my work has me traveling Sunday and that means the MMR might not go up on time next week either. 


Bedford 24, Westmont 6
The Bisons were led by Paul Detwiler's 141 yards rushing and one TD as Bedford improved to 3-5.  Cody Lohr had the lone score for the Hilltoppers.

Penn Cambria 16, Somerset 7
Although the Golden Eagles led 7-0 at the half, the ground game of Ernie Fetzer prevailed as Zak Newton had 178 yards on 35 carries and one score in the winning effort.  

Bishop McCort 47, Central Cambria 14
The Crushers easily improve to 8-0 as Josh Seidel carried the ball 20 times for 124 yards and 2 TDs while Dane Domonkos had two rushing TDs as well.  

Bishop Carroll 32, Cambria Heights 13
Craig Sponsky's Huskies get their maiden victory of the 2009 season on the back of senior Shawn Perich who rushed the ball 31 times for 242 yards and three touchdowns.  Caleb Vescovi had two passing TDs in the loss and the Highlanders fall to 0-8.

Forest Hills 23, Richland 9
You wouldn't know it just from the scoreboard but the Rams actually led this game 9-7 after three quarters of play.  The Rangers, now 8-0, were too much though as Nick Dudukovich carried the ball 26 times for 200 yards and three TDs in the win.
Wow, it's Wednesday!  I'm really sorry about this but it's one of those times that real life gets in the way.  I had some personal business to attend to Friday and Saturday, then I was out of state on business Sunday through Tuesday so although this column is still called "Monday Morning Ramblings", this week it comes to you on Wednesday night!


Again, all I can say is wow.  Having not seen the game in person, you can't help but be greatly impressed with the Trojan defense holding Zak Newton to just 15 yards on the ground Friday night.  Great job all around.


I really feel this team is hitting its stride right now.  They should pick up a seventh win in Ebensburg Friday night against Central Cambria and go into the district championship game very even with Hollidaysburg.  Some might feel the Trojans are still an underdog with the Golden Tigers, but it's not nearly what I thought it might be at the beginning of the season.


A couple of marching band notes:

First, I understand the alumni band at JHS was quite entertaining Friday night.  I'm looking forward to seeing a video of this performance.  Second, I was watching the late replay of the State College/Bishop McDevitt game on PCN and I want to give props to a fantastic performance by the State High band.  They concluded their show with a great rendition of "Thriller" complete with the zombie dance from the video!


I'll give more specifics in the soon to be posted Bullet Points, but congratulations to LaRod for scoring his first NFL touchdown in a contest Sunday. 


This is very abbreviated this week and again, I apologize.  There will still be a Bullet Points and Scouting Report.  They will just be delayed, possibly until Thursday night where I'll post Tale of the Tape together for a triple play if you will.


I am going to do my LHAC recaps now, and I'll included Johnstown this week since I didn't go to the game and these mirror what I post on my PennLive blog.

Johnstown 36, Penn Cambria 8
LaQuinn Stephens-Howling rushed for 115 yards while QB Jon Siciliano rushed for 75 yards as both young men enjoyed a great senior night on their last regular season game at Trojan Stadium.  The JHS "D" was particularly stout, holding Zak Newton far below his average yards per game.  Newton had just 15 yards on 12 carries.

Bishop Carroll 26, Bishop Guilfoyle 22
Shawn Perich rushed the ball 30 times for 121 yards and in workman-like fashion helped led the Huskies over BG in a close one.  Huey Ehredt had 144 yards for the Marauders in the loss.

Bishop McCort 48, Bedford 13
In what-else-is-new fashion, the Crushers roll, finish their regular undefeated with a share of the LHAC title and will enjoy a first round bye in the Class A playoffs after dismantling the Bisons.  Wearing their all red unis, the Crushers were too much as Josh Seidel (102 yards) and Chaz Merriman (100) led the ground attack for the Crushers.

Central Cambria 17, Somerset 8
Erik Espey scored both Red Devil touchdowns and Austin Crimmins kicked a 33-yard field goal in the CC win.  Dylan Cramer scored a touchdown and two-point conversion with less than a minute left to keep the Golden Eagles from getting shut out.

Richland 52, Cambria Heights 19
Gino Ramires passed for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams' blowout win over the Highlanders.  In the losing effort, Ian Vescovi had another fine showing with 279 yards passing and 2 touchdowns as CH remains winless.

Forest Hills 46, Westmont 6
The Rangers close out week nine in high style with an afternoon win at Price Field.  Nick Dudukovich scored five touchdowns and had 129 yards rushing as the Rangers stay undefeated on the season.

I'll close out the week with a few 6-AAA capsules:

Indian Valley 48, Bellefonte 8
All IV in this one as Mitchel Fultz rushed the ball 21 times for 276 yards and two scores while QB Will Long rushed for two scores, passed for three and had a pick six on defense to boot.

Williamsport 39, Hollidaysburg 6
Golden Tiger QB James Muir scored the only points for his team on an 80-yard touchdown run as they traveled east to Williamsport and got their butts handed to them by the Millionaires.

I am going to start off this week with a statement:  this Johnstown Trojan team will win the District 6-AAA championship game.  I am not basing this statement on anything other than a gut feeling.  The team has gone out and beat up on three teams in the past three weeks.  Granted, they should have beaten those teams.  The point is, they did it.  I sound like a broken record at times when I say this but to me, that is the mark of a solid football team.  A good football team does not let teams hang around in games that they have no business in doing such. 

I feel, that whenever this game is played (more on that below), the Trojans come out on top and have their second 6-AAA title. 


I say "whenever this game is played" only in jest.  The contest will be played at Altoona's Mansion Park at 7:00pm on Saturday, November 21.  The reason I make jokes is because I'm frustrated at District 6.  Why the hell is it so difficult to state when a game is going to be played?  Last week, it was reported in various media outlets that the game would be this coming weekend.  I don't blame those media outlets because they are simply reported what has been given to them by the district. 


We may have seen the future of the JHS offense as Gervon Simon played the first half as John Siciliano sat the first half out on a disciplinary actions.  All Simon did was take the first snap from scrimmage and ran 80 yards for a touchdown.  Although he's not as polished throwing the ball as two-year starter Siciliano is, that will come with time.  Remember, this young man is just a sophomore and although he was brought up to the varsity last year as a freshman, he still has time to grow into a starting QB.


Truthfully, I was concerned with Siciliano's absence in the first half because of the punting game.  But in the end, it was fine.  First because the Trojans didn't need to punt that much and secondly because junior Calvin Anderson did a fine job in relief duty.


The one negative takeaway from this game was pre-snap penalties.  This issue reared its ugly head again Friday night.  JHS was able to get away with it against an inferior Central Cambria team, but those kind of mistakes will prove much more costly in Hollidaysburg and, hopefully beyond.


Does anyone else think that Bishop Guilfoyle entering the Class A playoffs with a 3-6 was BS?  I feel this way times two when you throw in that Southern Huntingdon finished above them with a better record, and yet did not play.


Elsewhere in the LHAC it was quite the night for the Bailey family as the patriarch Don watched his Rangers complete a 10-0 season and in the process give him his 300th win.  The prodigal son, Brandon scored a win and in that process gets Richland their first home playoff game in school history.


Apparently Cory Isenberg mentioned how school board members from Johnstown clog the sidelines at Trojan games.  I've mentioned this in the past on this site and I'm glad the issue has been picked up by a more traditional news outlet.  There is no reason for those guys to be on the sidelines, especially when I see other school board members and the superintendent taking their place in the stands (where they belong). 

I was critical of Isenberg earlier this year because she wrote this but didn't mention what school or schools it was in reference to.  Kudos to her for finally saying what many of us already know.  Taunting opposing fans, yelling at refs and the like from the sideline is not becoming behavior from elected officials. 


Now, to our weekly recap of the LHAC and 6-AAA week that was:

Bedford 31, Chestnut Ridge 20
Marcus Shippey led the Bisons in this victory over their archrival as he toted the rock 17 times for 177 yards and three touchdown in the win.  These two teams will turn around and play each other again Thursday night for the District 5-AA crown.

Forest Hills 43, Somerset 6
There isn't another coach in our region more accomplished than Don Bailey.  His Rangers finish the regular season 10-0 for his ninth undefeated regular season and in the process gave him his 300th career victory. 

Richland 44, Penn Cambria 22
Two teams going in opposite directions right now as Gino Ramires threw for four touchdowns and the Rams will get their first home playoff game in program history.

Southern Huntingdon 38, Bishop Carroll 27
The Huskies end a rough season with a non-conference loss to the Rockets.  In the losing effort, Drew McCabe was 11-of-25 passing for 249 yards while Shawn Perich rushed for 112 yards on 12 carries.

United 22, Bishop Guilfoyle 12
The Heritage Conference champs survived a valiant effort from BG as Kody Oliver scored two touchdowns while Shaquille Howard added another as the Lions advance in the Class A playoffs. 

Westmont 46, Cambria Heights 6
Unfortunately the Highlanders end the 2009 campaign with an 0-10 mark as Ryan Burnheimer scored three touchdowns and the Hilltoppers end their season on a winning note.

Bald Eagle Area 20, Bellefonte 0
The Eagles shutout the Red Raiders and end an awful season as BEA takes the annual Curtain Bowl. 

Indian Valley 35, Lewistown 0
No contest here as the Warriors end the season on a positive note, shutting out archrival Lewistown and taking home the Old Iron Kettle.

DuBois 24, Hollidaysburg 14
The Golden Tigers end the regular season on a sour note by dropping their last two games and are heading into the playoffs with no momentum.

And now for some housekeeping, with the Trojans not playing this weekend, we'll have an abbreviated schedule here at Trojan Nation.  I'll have Bullet Points posted and also a smaller Scouting Report with just the rest of the LHAC teams and no Tale of the Tape.
With the Trojans on an off-week, this will be an abbreviated Monday Morning Ramblings.  I'll have a few quick hits, recap the other LHAC teams that played in playoff action over the weekend and we'll move it along.


It is unreal to me the mess that the District 6 has made of things when it comes to publishing a date for this 6-AAA title game.  Late Thursday I noticed on the official district site that now the game would be played Friday!  (I have updated our countdown clock in case you're wondering!)  Is it really that hard to get the right info out to the masses?  First it was a mix-up of which weekend and now, the day within said weekend.  Look, I realize there are four teams eligible but all might not play, but I would think you could have the scenarios all set.


Speaking of the district title game, with their 7-3 record, the Trojans are the top seed and thus the home team in Friday night's match-up.  That means having the home side at Mansion Park and I'm reminded by good friend Jason Subich that the Trojans have fared well in district title games on that side.  The last time JHS played as the home team at this venue they went away with their first D6 title, beating Bellefonte in 2004.  The last two times the Trojans have been on visitors' side for the district title game, they've gone home with losses both times (2003 against Huntingdon and last year against Hollidaysburg).


I have already written that I'm confident the Trojans will get the job done and win this district championship.  If that comes true, an old nemesis will more than likely stand in their way:  Selinsgrove.  The Seals continue their dominance of the District 4-AAA scene and are currently 11-0 and will more than likely take home the district title this weekend. 

That will be a bear of a match-up for the Trojans, but the good news is, the venue should be close to home.  Many of you probably remember the controversy that ensued back in 2004 when the Trojans had to travel to play Selinsgrove at the Seals' home stadium.  Well, last year's D4/D6 match-up between Hollidaysburg and Selinsgrove was held in Shamokin, a District 4 site.  That means this season's contest should be at a D6 site, more than likely Mansion Park (but how great would it be to have that game on a Saturday afternoon at Trojan Stadium!)


While on the subject of inter-district games, is there a bigger joke statewide than the game that will take place this Friday between Bedford and Westinghouse?  I've long said there isn't a weaker district in the state than D5.  They should NOT have their own Class AA title, they should be combined with D6 like they were before.  A 5-6 team won a district title and will play a 3-6 team that qualifies for this game by being the highest Class AA team in the Pittsburgh City League?  A league that now consists of just nine teams and that will go down to eight once the 2010 season completes (Schenley High will be closed). 

I believe those eight city league teams should be absorbed as a separate conference in the WPIAL.  Make them all Class AAAA and add them to the mix and you will have a better playoff situation.  Perhaps you'd have less 2-7, 3-6 and 4-6 teams qualifying for the postseason. 


Now, let's take a quick look at the LHAC teams that played in playoff action over Week 11:

Bedford 29, Chestnut Ridge 18
For the second time in less than a week the Bisons were better than their arch-rival Lions and take the District 5-AA title.  Paul Detwiler had 17 carries for 115 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win.  CR finishes the year 5-6.

Bishop McCort 30, Mount Union 7
No Seidel, no problem as the Crushers got 92 yards and 2 TDs from Luke James and easily defeated the Trojans in this Class A playoff contest.  They improved to 10-0 and will take on Penns Manor in the semifinals.

Central 38, Penn Cambria 8
Lucas Runk carried the ball 17 times for 154 yards and 2 TDs as the Dragons, a former LHAC member, defeated Ernie Fetzer's Penn Cambria Panthers.  PC's lone score came on a 57-yard touchdown pass from Zak Newton to Adam Zaliznock. 

Forest Hills 35, Central Cambria 0
The Ranger defense keeps their high level of play up, pitching a shutout in a playoff game as Zack Glessner paced the offense.  The signal caller was an uber-efficient 7-of-9 for 135 yards and two touchdowns.  FH improves to 11-0 and will play Richland in the semifinals.

Richland 52, Huntingdon 21
Ram pride was in full effect Saturday night as Richland's home digs saw their first home playoff game ever.  The fans were not disappointed as Ryan Sylvia had three touchdown receptions while Jordan Cinko and John Rizzo got into the end zone on the ground.  Richland improves to 9-2 and will take on Forest Hills in the semfinals.

That's all for this Monday.  On to Mansion Park and the District Championship Game!
I just can't express how happy I am for the Trojans in winning this second District 6-AAA title.  It was great to watch the players line up and get their medals Friday night after a hard fought victory over a great opponent in Hollidaysburg.  The Golden Tigers proved they were much better than their 4-6 record showed.  I wish them the best of luck in their future WPIAL endeavors which start next year. 

I can't give enough props to Coach Marabito and his staff and the players for getting it down Friday night.  Even though this was a game that the Trojans could have put away much earlier, they showed a lot of moxie in getting it down after the Tigers tied it up.  There was never that moment of giving up, even when the momentum clearly shifted to Hollidaysburg's favor in the second half. 

When all was said and done, JHS was truly the best team of the four in District 6-AAA and this year, they did not finish the season disappointed.  It wasn't simply good enough to get to the championship game.  They wanted this game and they got it.  This could have easily been another "what might have been" game, but the team got the job done. 

Many congratulations go out to the players, coaches and parents, as well as the cheerleaders and band that follow this team all year.  Thanks for a great run and let's keep it going.


This is the second District 6-AAA title in school history, the other coming in 2004.  The Trojans were 6-AAA runners-up in 2003 and 2008. 


I really like the short passing attack the Trojans deployed in the first half.  This is great mix-up to the read-option running game and the outside blocking that receivers picked up made it that much more effective.  John Siciliano did a fine job in pulling the ball down and running when that first look wasn't there.  The moral of this story is that if a team is going to give the kind of cushion that Hollidaysburg did (10 yards minimum), you have to exploit that. 


I can't say enough about the play of LaQuinn Stephens-Howling this year.  He really stepped up his game for his senior year.  He's been a threat not running the ball, catching the ball, returning the ball and has come up with huge plays on defense.  His leadership cannot be overlooked either.  I could hear him from my seat at Mansion Park yelling at the team that they were not going to lose the game Friday night. 


It was great to see Alkwan Williams get a defensive touchdown Friday night.  This sophomore has been playing out of this world and he's made the move from playing the outside as a freshman to the inside with ease.  What a treat this kid has been to watch and how great is it that he'll be a Trojan for two more years. 


Cliff Eddins, another youngster, had a very nice game Friday night.  He made an interception and played well in coverage.  Just a junior, "Philly Cliff" made a splash last year on the Trojans' basketball team and shows great promise on the hardwood, but it's been a nice bonus that the young man has played well on the gridiron as well.


Every game has a little bit of good, bad and ugly, so I have to mention a few areas for improvement. 

There were some missed opportunities in the first half of this game with Hollidaysburg.  The Golden Tigers had far too many turnovers to only be down 14-0 at the half.  Johnstown should have been up 21-0 at the least, quite possibly it could have been 28-0.  By the Trojans not capitalizing on these opportunities, this kept Hollidaysburg in the game.


The other issue from Friday night was that it's clear this is a very different Johnstown team at this stage of the season if they are not able to utilize the shotgun formation.  There were big issues with the snap Friday night and this caused the Trojans to get out of their comfort zone.  In order for Johnstown to capitalize on their strengths, they must be able to have a consistent shotgun snap.  If this isn't executed just right, at a minimum it messes up the timing of the whole play.  At the worst, as we saw Friday night, it can cause huge losses of yardage and put the team in a hole.


So, we advance to play an old familiar friend in Selinsgrove.  The Seals won the District 4-AAA title Friday night and will be the Trojans' opponent Friday night in a game played at Richland High School.  Selinsgrove is currently the #2 team in the state according to the Pennsylvania Football News.  JHS broke into the PFN honorable mention category this week, the first time this season. 

I'll break down the Seals a little more in depth later on in the week, but most would agree the Trojans go into this game as a huge underdog.  However, you just never know, that's why you play the games on the field and not on paper. 


I had heard earlier in the week that this game with Selinsgrove would take place on Saturday afternoon, so I'm a tad bummed that it's Friday night, mainly because I'll have to multitask with my phone and keep track of the Backyard Brawl!


I'd be remiss if I didn't mention one thing that happened Friday night.  I am being extremely careful in the words I chose to use.  I didn't see this event happen but I sure as hell heard it (to be frank it scare the shit out of me).  All I'm going to say about this event for now is that press box windows don't break themselves. 


Finally, below are the recaps of the other LHAC teams in playoff action:

Bedford 29 Westinghouse 6
Westinghouse had been off three weeks prior to this game, I would contend they shouldn't even have showed up.  Paul Detwiler of the Bisons was the man as he rushed for 110 yards on 17 carries and also returned a kickoff 75 yards in the win.  Bedford improves to 6-6 and will take on 9-AA champion Karns City this week. 

Bishop McCort 45, Penns Manor 21
Josh Seidel returned to the lineup for the Crimson Crushers and had a big night, gaining 177 yards and scoring four touchdowns on the night.  McCort cruised to victory over the visiting Comets and advance to the 6-A final against Bellwood-Antis.

Forest Hills 32, Richland 7
Nick Duduckovich continues to be the workhorse for Don Bailey as he carried the ball 29 times for 260 yards and three touchdowns as the Rangers advance to the 6-AA final.  For the second time this year, Bailey beat his son Brandon but the son can hold his head high.  The Rams end this season with a 9-3 record and won their first home playoff game in program history.  The future definitely looks bright in Richland.  Forest Hills improves to 12-0 and will play Tyrone in the 6-AA title game.


I wish everyone in the Trojan Nation a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.  I implore those of you in the community to come out Friday night and support the Trojans.  Selinsgrove travels extremely well and will no doubt have a big crowd Friday night and we need the same.  There is no excuse as the game is in our backyard.  We need more of a following than just the parents of the players.  If you're an alum and in town for the Thanksgiving weekend, please come out.  Give a couple of hours of your Friday night in support of the school and this team. 
The end of the football season is almost always disappointing, mainly because it more than likely because it ends with a loss.  Only those that win a state title and the team that doesn't make the playoffs but wins their regular season finale have a different experience.  To me, it's like the old saying "better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all."  I'd much rather my team get to the playoffs and have a chance to advance and keep on playing. 

As to the loss against Selinsgrove, I honestly think that game was won, or lost if you're the Trojans, in the weight room in the offseason.  One look at that Iron Seals page on the Selinsgrove website tells that story (  There were many plays that looked like the Trojans could stop them for a short gain or loss that broke free.  Arm tackles just won't bring that bevy of running backs down, that's for sure. 

Defensively, the Seals had a closing speed that I totally underestimated.  There were plays that looked like we could really break them, that looked open, that the Seals shut down for little or no gain.  When their five LBs dropped back into coverage, it seemed like every pass play deep was thrown into triple and quadruple coverage.  It seemed like there was very little in the Trojans' arsenal that the Seals could not stop. 

I was mildly disappointed that the Trojans' offense was unable to get into the endzone, but in every gray cloud there is a silver lining.  What a hell of a time for Oskar Almgren to have to attempt his maiden field goal of the season.  However, in a cold, snowy, swirling wind, he booted a 30-yard field goal, which ultimately kept the Trojans from being shut out.  This was, I believe, the first successful Trojans field goal since Arturo Vega booted two in a playoff game against Brownsville in 1990.

In wrapping this final MMR up, I'm not going to lament on what could have been.  I left the game feeling sort of like I felt when I left the GIANT Center after JHS lost to Steelton-Highspire in the 2005 after the Class AAA boys' basketball final.  Sure, the better team won.  Yes, it was disappointing to lose, but the team gave the best effort they could have.

I don't want to get all morale victory here.  I've been as critical as the next person with the all the "icing on the cake" and "gravy" comments that have been made in the past.  I don't want to make it sound like good is good enough and that I think just getting to this game was enough of a prize.  I'm just saying that sometimes you have to give proper respect to your opponent and concede that they were the better team.  You can also learn from them as far as what it takes to get your own program to the next level. 

As for the 2010 Trojans, it appears that a lot of guys are going to have to step up because the team is losing a lot of depth at the skill positions due to graduation.  Gervon Simon and Calvin Anderson will be back but gone are Richard Agurs, Ryan Sisco, LaQuinn Stephens-Howling, Jordan Jefferson, Kashmir Pretlor, Quatrell Rose and John Siciliano.  It looks like a lot of guys that played more JV this year and have limited varsity experience will be asked to step up. 

But to one last time reflect on this season, the team won only their second District 6-AAA title in school history and only the fourth district title in school history (previous WPIAL titles in 1941 and 1958).  Two of the three teams that the Trojans suffered regular season losses to are both still alive and undefeated, having won district titles of their own (see below).  Not only that, the Trojans held (and I use that word loosely) the Seals to just one point higher than their season low of 34 points scored.  I really think the Trojans gave the Seals all the game they could have.  Yes, a few things here or there might have made a small difference, but I don't think they would have changed the outcome of the game.  I'm extremely proud of the effort of this team this year.  They finished the season strong after overcoming some adversity, mainly in the timeframe following the loss to Richland. 

Now, we'll look at the rest of the LHAC teams still alive, recapping their games:

Forest Hills 17, Tyrone 14
Patrick Donoughe kicked a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds left to give the Rangers a dramatic victory and district title.  He made amends for a missed 23-yarder earlier in the evening.  Nick Dudukovich rushed for 235 yards on 29 carries and Jeff Maier had 103 yards on 22 carries. 

Bishop McCort 34, Bellwood-Antis 20
The Crushers' defense was opportunistic, picking up two key B-A fumbles late in the game while Josh Seidel rushed for 208 yards on 30 carries.  It is the Crushers' fourth straight district title and back-to-back Class A titles.

Bedford 28, Karns City 26 (3OT)
The Bisons have me eating crow big time.  When I saw this team earlier this season, if you'd have told me they'd be alive and playing football in December, I'd have told you you were crazy!  They outlast the District 9 champs in triple overtime and advance to the quarterfinal round. 

Since there will be no Scouting Report this week, I'll give a quick capsule of each of the games of the remaining LHAC teams:

Bishop McCort (12-0) vs. Millersburg (10-3), Hersheypark Stadium, Saturday, noon
I think the Crushers keep it going and advance to the state semifinal round.

Greensburg Central Catholic (11-2) vs. Bedford (7-6), Windber Stadium, Friday, 7pm
Although the Bisons have nearly a home game, and I admitted to eating crow on this team already, I see GCC winning big.  The Centurions had their way with a really tough Aliquippa squad at Heinz Field a week ago. 

Wilmington (12-1) vs. Forest Hills (13-0), IUP, Friday 7pm
Big test for the Rangers but I think Don Bailey's club prevails.  The stout FH defense combined with their rushing attack, led by Nick Dudukovich, will keep them undefeated and one step closer to a state title.

I'd also like to do one last Bullet Points update since this will be the last feature on the site for football season.

*****LaRod Stephens-Howling:  The Cards lost to the Titans 20-17.  LaRod had four kickoff returns for 167 yards including a 99-yard touchdown.  He also had one tackle and downed two punts inside the 5.  The Cards host Minnesota on Sunday Night Football this week.

*****Antwuan Reed:  Reed played but did not record any stats in the Panthers' 19-16 loss to WVU.  They host Cincinnati this Saturday.

*****Mike Kush:  Kush did not play in the Vulcans' 57-35 playoff victory over West Liberty.  This week, Cal U will play Northwest Missouri State in a semifinal Division II playoff game.

*****David Istanich:  The Golden Panthers were off this past week but wrap up their season with a home game with Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

As far as winter sports, I'm not going to do a weekly roundup, but I'll try my best to keep the winter schedules up to date, perhaps on a weekly basis.  I've posted the schedules that I'll be updating here.

That's all for now as another Trojan football season is in the books (six years of coverage for Trojan Nation in the books as well).  Thanks to everyone involved in the program for another fun season. 


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