There are 10 undefeated high school football teams left in the Mirror coverage area. Chestnut Ridge might be one of the least likely of them.
The Lions came into the season with a couple of really good proven skill people, like quarterback Brad Hengst and running back Jude Donatelli. They built their reputations last year, though, performing behind a very experienced offensive line that included four seniors and a junior starting for his second year.
Hengst and Donatelli are off to nice starts this year, and the Lions are first in the area in rushing offense and in scoring offense. The new guys in Ridge's trenches are a big reason.
"At the beginning of the season, I listed that as a big question mark,'' said Ridge coach Max Shoemaker, whose team will try to go to 3-0 when it travels to 3-0 Windber tonight. "To this point, those guys have exceeded what we envisioned.''
Jake Deffibaugh is back anchoring things for Ridge at center for the third year. However, all the other faces around him are new. Fellow seniors Hunter Lohr and Kyle Weyant have been holding down the right side, with Keyan Pineda and 5-foot-7, 166-pound converted fullback Logan Kensinger on the left.
"We did a lot of work in the offseason,'' Deffibaugh said. "We have a lot of chemistry.''
Deffibaugh said the group's bond formed through a collective chip on its shoulder provided by some former Lion teammates.
"We always felt we'd be fine. I think we wanted to prove that to some of the guys that graduated and said we wouldn't be any good this year. It motivated us,'' Deffibaugh said.
Deffibaugh said it is a loose, physically strong collection of guys that have bought into the coaching of Eric Zeznanski, the former Ridge standout who went on to start at Cal of Pa.
"He plays a big role. We're not going to have size on a lot of the teams we play, but we make up for it in technique,'' Deffibaugh said.
"I give a lot of credit to each of them,'' Shoemaker said. "They have a really unselfish attitude.''
What a weekend
Ridge/Windber is one of just five games tonight involving area teams pitting two 2-0 squads against each other, but this week would be hard pressed to match the excitement from Week 2 around the region.
Nine games were decided by seven points or less, including Central Cambria's 39-38 double-overtime thriller at Bishop McCort on Blake Bussard's gutsy two-point conversion.
And did anyone foresee Penn Hills beating Gateway or North Hills stunning Woodland Hills, let alone both?
Cmor can be reached at 946-7440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.