More than 48 hours had passed, and in that time between the first and second halves of last weekend’s lightning-delayed Bellefonte-Huntingdon football game, the Bearcats had made adjustments.
Before Mother Nature forced the postponement, Bellefonte’s Nunu Buey had torched the Bearcats for 162 yards on just four carries. Come Monday, the Huntingdon defense was committed to shutting Buey down.
But while Buey finished Monday’s second half with just two carries for positive yardage, the Red Raiders were able to lean more heavily on Brian White, who added 77 of his 125 yards in the second half.
It’s this multiple-playmaker effect Bellefonte coach Duffy Besch hopes to use to his team’s advantage when the Red Raiders host Philipsburg-Osceola (0-2) tonight for the Luther Trophy.
“If you focus on one, hopefully we’re going to be able to have a second one,” Besch said.
And the Red Raiders (1-1) will be looking to earn a second win faster than they have been in recent seasons past.
They’ll try to get it against a Philipsburg-Osceola squad that has hit a rut early with back-to-back losses to Line Mountain and Bald Eagle Area. On the positive side, the Mounties were able to recover from a Week 1 nightmare in which they turned the ball over six times and were shut out 56-0 by Line Mountain.
“I think what you’re going to find is it’s a traditional P-O team. And they’re there to establish the run,” Besch said. “They want to come out and get a running game going and get things moving downhill. They were able to do that some in some of the films I saw and were able to get some momentum at times.”
Against Bald Eagle Area, the Mounties were able to win the turnover battle, but their one turnover quickly warped into an 81-yard interception return for a touchdown for the Eagles. That lone turnover turned out to be the dagger in Philipsburg-Osceola’s 27-7 loss.
Meanwhile, the Eagles battered the Red Raiders in Week 1, forcing three interceptions en route to a 42-17 romp.
Besch has seen both tapes — that of his team’s loss to BEA and BEA’s defeat of P-O — and draws a major conclusion about his upcoming opponent.
“Knowing Bald Eagle and having played them Week 1, it wasn’t the same kind of game which means (P-O)’s gaining momentum,” Besch said. “They’re improving and making good strides.”
P-O coach Jeff Vroman has seen it first hand.
“We’re getting more consistent. We’re about two weeks behind the curve is how I look at it,” Vroman said.
The Mounties were forced to substitute inexperienced players in Week 1 and got a handful of them back for last week’s game against BEA. Vroman said he expects his squad to be near full strength this week.
“That’s helping the continuity,” Vroman said. “We’re crisper on offense and defense and even on special teams. I thought this week we were starting to look a little better in that area. It’s just a matter of our kids getting game experience and building off of that.”
It’s no secret the Mounties will look to build momentum early with their running game.
Led by junior running back Dustin Shuey, the P-O ground game churned out 190 yards on 50 attempts of which 123 of them went to Shuey.
“He ran hard. He did a nice job, especially as the game progressed,” Vroman said. “I thought in the second half he ran much better once he got in the groove of it.”
In addition to establishing their own running game, the Mounties will be wary of Bellefonte’s improved rushing attack.
Although Buey is the Raiders’ most dangerous runner, Vroman and his players have seen how Buey can open up the game for his other teammates.
Instead of focusing on shutting down one or two opposing players, Vroman said he and his coaching staff have preached positional defense this week. Their hope is that by doing so, the Mounties will limit big plays, especially outside runs.
“We focus on all of their backs. They have some good backs,” Vroman said. They find the holes and they run hard. And it’s important to contain them. You’re not going to stop them, you just need to contain them and reduce the possibility of a big play. That’s where we’re at.”