Bellefonte (0-2) at Philipsburg-Osceola (0-2)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: P-O — Jeff Vroman, 12th season; B — Shanon Manning, first season
Last meeting: B — 42; P-O — 7 at Bellefonte, last season
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Key players: P-O — Curtis Matsko, QB; B — Doylan Deitrich, RB/WR
The skinny: Something has to give when winless Bellefonte travels to winless Philipsburg-Osceola on Friday in the Mounties’ home opener.
Both teams are looking for progress after a difficult 2012.
The Red Raiders (0-2) walloped the Mounties 42-7 last season at Bellefonte. A 29-14 win over Huntingdon was the team’s only other triumph.
Injuries, youth and turnovers contributed to a winless P-O season last year.
However, Mounties (0-2) head coach Jeff Vroman has been encouraged by his team’s effort so far.
Senior quarterback Curtis Matsko is responsible for four of the team’s five touchdowns. After just two games, Matsko has thrown for a score and rushed for three more.
In 10 games last year, P-O had one passing touchdown and 10 on the ground. Then-senior Erik Smith and then-junior Nick Gray led the team with three rushing scores apiece.
Despite those improvements, turnovers remain an area of concern.
An early fumble against Bald Eagle Area last week set the tone for a 40-13 beating.
The Mounties lost two of three fumbles in the game. In total, P-O has lost three of five fumbles so far, which is much better than last season’s final tally of 32 fumbles with 22 recovered by opponents.
Matsko and fellow senior Dustin Shuey have led the Mounties’ ground attack. Shuey has rushed for 108 yards on just 13 carries, while Matsko has toted the ball 31 times for 161 yards.
Gray, a senior linebacker, anchors the P-O defense. He leads the team with 24 tackles, 22 solo. No other player has double-digit solo tackles.
He also has caused and recovered a fumble, and blocked two field goals.
Gray’s dominance could be a factor Friday when his team faces a Bellefonte squad trying to master the rush-heavy wing-T offense.
First-year head coach Shanon Manning has been preaching patience to his kids as they implement new offensive and defensive strategies.
The wing-T requires precise footwork from the entire offense. If executed properly the choreography could stymie a linebacker like Gray. However, incongruity could also leave exploitable gaps.
Last week, a talented Huntingdon squad shut out the Red Raiders 47-0 — and shut down the running game. Bellefonte managed 79 yards on 28 carries, and only added 41 yards in the air.
A win for P-O would be its first since beating Chestnut Ridge 34-33 on Nov. 11, 2011.