Penns Valley coach Martin Tobias has seen the look on his own sidelines and practice field – hunger.
His club was starved for a win and finally after four weeks of frustration had its appetite filled with a 42-21 romp against Huntingdon last week.
Now, his Rams (1-4) are staring at a county rival that’s just as hungry as they were as they travel to Philipsburg-Osceola (0-5) for a 7 p.m. clash tonight.
“I’m sure they’re looking at this as a chance to get their first win and there’s no doubt they’re going to be ready,” Tobias said of the Mounties. “Coach (jeff) Vroman and his staff do a great job of preparing their kids. You can throw the records out of the window for this game. They’re looking at this as their homecoming and a chance to get their first win and get their season turned around and going in the right direction.”
Never miss a local story.
Penns Valley took that initial step last week against a Huntingdon program the Rams had never beaten before. After surrendering the opening score, Penns Valley scored on four of its next five possessions to take control of the contest.
Quarterback Cameron Tobias completed 22-of-27 passes for 240 yards and a score. His tosses helped set up a pair of one-yard touchdown runs by Dom Hook and another one-yarder by Luke Weaver. The point total was more than the Rams had scored in their first four games combined.
“I think that the offense has been going in the right direction right along with the season,” Martin Tobias said. “We just haven’t had the results or have seen the results like we did Friday night. I feel good that we’re headed the right way. We have to keep building on it.”
What Tobias like the most was his offense’s balance and ability to take advantage of its opportunities, something he hopes continues tonight.
“We were probably more balanced than we’ve been, being able to mix the run in with the pass much more effectively than we had the previous games of the season,” Tobias said. “It was also taking advantage of what Huntingdon was giving us.
“Philipsburg runs a different kind of defense than Huntingdon and from other teams that we face. They’re going to give us some different looks. We have to make sure we’re ready to read the right things from a pass coverage standpoint. In looking for the open receivers, the reads are different.”
Tobias seems more concerned about the Mounties’ offense, which has moved the ball this season only to be stymied by turnovers and penalties. In a 34-7 loss at Chestnut Ridge, P-O had 177 yards on the ground, but lost two of its five fumbles. Nick Gray led the Mounties with 58 yards on 16 carries.
Vroman, who was unavailable for comment this week, has lamented the turnover problem.
“You have to protect the football,” he said a week ago. “That’s been our Achilles heel. . You can’t win football games doing that.”
Tobias said his defense can’t count on the Mounties making mistakes. He watched P-O roll up 372 yards rushing against his team in the Mounties' 46-21 win last season.
“It’s such a different offense,” Tobias said. “It’s something we’re not used to preparing for. We really have to focus on all of the things they’re able to do with it. They’ll go perimeter. They’ll come back inside. They’ve got good trapping, linemen that are pulling. You really have to read your keys and stay at home. You can’t go and over pursue because that leaves you vulnerable.”
After surrendering a touchdown on the Bearcats’ first drive, the Rams’ starting defense dominated. Huntingdon’s only other score against that unit came after a fumble deep in Penns Valley territory.
“It was really good to see the results for once,” Tobias said. “We were more sure with our tackles. We were wrapping up on things. We stayed home better. We were more physical than we had been. Everything that we had been preaching in practice came to fruition Friday night. We turned the page on Friday night. Now we have to be able to do it all over again.”
Vroman’s young team has also been hampered by injuries. He had nine players in street clothes last Friday.
Tobias expects whoever is out on the field for P-O to be just as hungry as his team was last week and maybe more because of the landscape.
“You’re always preparing for your next opponent, but when it’s an intracounty game there’s a certain amount of rivalry,” Tobias said. “You’re fighting for bragging rights. You want to be able to put your best foot forward because these kids are in contact with each other more frequently and know each other better than the other schools in the conference.”