Elk County Catholic (0-4) at St. Joseph’s (1-3)
Time: 7 p.m.
Coaches: SJCA — Dave Carson, first season; ECC — Tony Gerg
Key players: SJ — Kahsim Buey, RB; ECC — Andy Gebauer, QB
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The skinny: The St. Joseph’s 18 will be minus a player this week and outnumbered once again when Elk County Catholic comes to town, but the margin won’t be quite as drastic.
Last week, the Wolves (1-3) were rolled by undefeated Curwensville and its roster of 51. This week, the Crusaders (0-4) make the trip with 24 players on its roster.
However, last week’s loss to the Golden Tide wasn’t about second-half fatigue as it was in the Wolves’ previous two defeats. It was about poor execution.
“I think right now our biggest problem is executing,” Wolves’ head coach Dave Carson said.
The loss of linebacker Titus Tice, who suffered a knee injury last week, certainly hurts. The Golden Tide attempted just two passes and still dominated on the ground for 337 yards on 55 carries last week.
The Wolves’ defense struggled to carry out defensive assignments and finish tackles in the backfield, two areas that could make the Crusaders (0-4) a tough out.
Jonathan Dippold is the team’s leading rusher with 211 yards and five touchdowns.
Practice has been difficult to hold for St. Joseph’s with a small roster, and the loss of Tice makes matters worse. But Carson still tried to simulate intense in-game action in practice this week.
“We’ve really just gone left side against ride side and really just (went) at it,” he said.
The Crusader offense is susceptible to the turnover, which could help a Wolves offense that struggled last week. Elk County senior quarterback Andy Gebauer has thrown six interceptions to just two touchdowns. The Crusaders also have lost three fumbles.
The St. Joseph’s offense struggled mightily. Quarterback Phil Fenstermacker completed just 6 of 16 passes and Kahsim “NuNu” Buey was held without a reception.
However, Buey did rush 14 times for 107 yards and a score, though the yardage came late with the Tide up 25-0.
Their numbers may be slim, but Carson remains optimistic. The Wolves’ three losses have to come to teams with a combined 10-2 record. Their win came against Mercyhurst Prep (1-3).
“We’re 17, but we can go out and still play football, keep our heads up and turn the ship around,” Carson said. “I think we’re there. We just have to execute better, don’t get down when things aren’t going absolutely the way we want them to and stay in the game.”