It's going to take some doing for this weekend's high school football slate to live up to the bar set by the first week of action.
Altoona kicked off John Franco Era Part II, and Hollidaysburg, the "Backyard Brawl," and Huntingdon all came down to the late stages, while Penn Cambria and Central raised eyebrows with some very dominating performances.
However, the biggest eyebrow-raisers came courtesy of Northern Cambria and Portage, which pulled off huge upsets.
The Colts stunned state-ranked and defending PIAA Class A semifinalist Penns Manor, 28-20, scoring twice in the fourth quarter - the second touchdown coming on Jeff Hogan's 4-yard run with 1:20 to play after NC recovered an accidental onside kick - to avenge a pair of losses from 2011.
Hogan, NC's star volleyball and basketball player, had an outstanding game. Matched against Penns Manor all-stater and potential Division I recruit Danny Ferens, all Hogan did was run for two touchdowns, throw for two touchdowns, complete a two-point conversion pass and accumulate 183 yards of total offense on 19 passes and five runs.
Ferens wasn't bad either, rushing for 155 and three TDs.
While Northern Cambria was sending the home crowd away happy, the Portage Mustangs were spoiling the first kickoff in Boswell to what was supposed to be another triumphant season for North Star. Missing one starting running back due to a disqualification and another because he was ill, the youthful Mustangs held the prohibitive WestPAC favorite to 154 yards and got a late TD from first-time quarterback Evan Price to pull out a 13-10 shocker.
n While Northern Cambria and Portage will be soaring into week 2 games tonight, a couple of other teams with big aspirations from the same general part of the Altoona Mirror coverage area will be seeking to bounce back.
Neither Cambria Heights nor Glendale were facing pushovers in the first week - Richland has most of its lineup back from last year's District 5-6 Class AA runner-up, and Northern Bedford always is in contention for ICC and District 5 Class A crowns. However, to lose at home with so much electricity surrounding those programs that have been so maligned in the last couple of decades had to be a bitter pill to swallow.
Although this week's opponents don't have the credentials of their first-game foes, the Highlanders and Vikings can't afford to feel sorry for themselves, either. Everett has amazing size up front with which Glendale must deal, and playing Saturday afternoon at Westmont like Heights must is never an easy proposition.
n New District 6 football chair Ralph Cecere reports that while talks are ongoing, it looks like the District 6-8-9 Class AAA playoffs will be a true subregional, with all eight teams using the same point system to try to gain entry to the four-team tournament.
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