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BG still in a learning mode

October 11, 2012
By Philip Cmor ( , The Altoona Mirror

Having gone from one victory last year to five already this year, it's fair to conclude the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School football team has learned how to win.

"One of the changes we focused on as coaches was to teach the kids to do the things to actually win," Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. "There's always going to be times when things don't go well, and, sometimes when you haven't won, it's easy to give up in times like that. We haven't won a lot, so we wanted to focus on what it takes to win, and one of the things we talked about it not worrying so much about our opponents as the things we want to do."

Now the big question is how the Marauders will handle with their newfound prosperity.

If there is any complacency, though, this could be the week the Marauders get brought back to earth when they face a Central Cambria team that, after a very slow start, appears like it might be starting to get into gear.

Kickoff for the Laurel Highlands Conference Section 1 finale on Saturday at Mansion Park between the 5-1 Marauders and 1-5 Red Devils is 7 p.m.

Central Cambria only won two games itself in 2011, but one of those was a 24-12 decision against the Marauders.

The Red Devils also have displayed a knack for winning games they weren't supposed to in the last decade. Most notable were upsets of Tyrone in the Class AA district playoffs in back-to-back years, but the Devils also stunned top-seeded Bedford as the eighth seed in the quarterfinals in 2004 and handed Forest Hills its only regular season setback in 2008.

The Devils added to that list of eye-openers last season one game after beating BG, and Wheeler has been keeping that fresh in everyone's minds this week.

"Staying focused will be easier for us when you consider last year Central Cambria beat undefeated Johnstown [7-6]," Wheeler said. "This is a team that can beat anybody any week. We know we have to play well."

The Devils got off to an 0-4 start - scoring just six points in that stretch - before scoring 19 in the fourth quarter to beat Bishop Carroll for its first win, 26-6. Central Cambria came back last week and lost to Forest Hills, 28-14.

Guilfoyle, meanwhile, is coming off a 28-0 win against Carroll and beat Forest Hills, 14-0.

Red Devils coach Sam Shutty and his staff have taken the approach that the first month of the season was more of a preseason. The real season for his young team has just begun.

"Obviously, we're not where we expected to be. But, the early part of the season, we just got decimated by injuries, and we kind of lost a sense of who we were. As the weeks progressed, we got some guys back, got our identity backm and guys began to understand what we wanted to do," Shutty said.

The Devils' Brandon Long is one of the most productive receivers in the LHAC, and 6-foot-1, 220-pound quarterback Will Seymour has shown an ability to make plays either running or passing the football.

Central Cambria also has shown an ability to defend against the run, holding four of its six opponents to fewer than 150 yards. That could be key against a Guilfoyle team that is coming off two consecutive 230-plus-yard rushing performances - Cody Rossman, Pat Irwin and D.J. Kitt all have surpassed the 90-yard mark at least once in the last two games.

"Any game is going to be won in the trenches. If you can control the line of scrimmage, if you can control the clock, you're going to win the game," Shutty said. "That's going to be the key to our game."

Wheeler felt the same way. He added that getting off to a good start probably had something to do with where the Marauders are now. Central Cambria is in a similar position, albeit at the midpoint of the season.

"They're just a few plays from a really different record," Wheeler said.

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