One week you’re trying to stop a bulldozer, and the next you’re chasing a bunch of sports cars.
That’s the challenge for Philipsburg-Osceola when the Mounties travel to Bald Eagle Area on Friday.
Last week, P-O hung close with Line Mountain before falling 37-27, mostly due to the straight-ahead running of the Eagles’ 5-foot-11, 210-pound back Cory Warford.
The pace will certainly change this week when the Mounties (0-1) face the Eagles’ stable of fast backs and receivers.
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“You have to know where these kids are and you have to play assignment football,” Mounties head coach Jeff Vroman said. “If you’re out of position they’re going to make you pay for it.”
In its 49-7 dismantling of Bellefonte in week one, BEA received big nights on the ground. Dakota Bartley (16 carries, 89 yards), Mitchel Struble (12-72), Kaleb Weaver (2-35) and Bryce Greene (1-27) accumulated 223 of the team’s 268 rushing yards.
Quarterback Jason Jones added another 160 yards in the air with four receptions going to Bryan Greene for 106 yards.
The Eagles had 428 yards of total offense.
“I thought our offensive line did a great job of pass blocking,” Eagles’ head coach Jack Tobias said. “Jason Jones did a nice job for his first game at quarterback. I thought we had a pretty decent balance and I think the kids executed well when they needed to.”
P-O senior Nick Gray will be a key for a defense that gave up 198 yards on 18 carries to Warford in week one.
Gray led the team with 15 tackles and his attacking style could disrupt the BEA backfield.
“He sets the defensive front,” Vroman said. “He’s just a kid who loves to hit.”
Special teams could be another way to slow BEA’s attack. Senior kicker Nick Boumerhi had three touchbacks out of five kickoffs last week and also added a 42-yard field goal.
Boumerhi will be a factor in the battle for field position and his leg could supplement the offense should it falter in the red zone.
Vroman liked the play of quarterback Curtis Matsko against Line Mountain, but a few miscues proved costly.
The senior went 11-for-19 for 154 yards and a touchdown, however he also had an interception returned for a touchdown and another picked off in the end zone.
Vroman said Matsko’s confidence will continue to grow, especially on the ground where he added 96 yards on 18 carries and two scores.
Wide receiver Aaron Mason, who caught five balls for 88 yards, could also help loosen a tough BEA defense.
The play of Jordan Kobularcik at linebacker and defensive linemen Jarrett Shreffler, Levi Cramer, Josh Fye and Tanner Cramer particularly impressed Tobias last week.
“Our defensive line really sets the tone,” the head coach said. “The guys up front controlled the line of scrimmage and anytime you do that you keep guys off your linebackers.”
The Eagles allowed just 105 yards to a young and retooling Bellefonte offense in week one.
They also recovered two of the Red Raiders’ four fumbles and picked off three passes.
P-O should provide a better test than last season, but BEA still has a good opportunity to start 2-0 coming off last season’s 6-5 campaign — its first over .500 since 1994 — which also earned a playoff berth.
“Every game is an important chance to win,” Tobias said. “Whether it’s 2-0, 3-0, 1-2 or whatever. Every game you approach to win and I think these guys had an excellent week of practice. But getting out to a 2-0 start would be huge and obviously every step of the way it’s going to get harder and harder.”