Life's not always fair.
Neither is football.
Altoona Area coach John Franco thinks he has the ingredients for a pretty good offense down the road, but, right now, the it hasn't had time to mix together just right.
In the interim, Franco has to ask the Mountain Lion defense to perform above and beyond the call of duty to put the team into position for a return trip to the WPIAL playoffs.
"You hate to that to them," Franco said, "but that might be what it has to be."
The Lion defense came through in week 1, posting its first shutout in more than a season and finding a way to contain multi-faceted Norwin quarterback Nick Amendola. On Friday, Franco will call upon that unit to rise to the occasion on the road again when Altoona takes on a Kiski Area team that put 53 points on the board in its opener.
Game: Altoona Mountain Lions (1-0) vs. Kiski Area Cavaliers (1-0)
Where: Davis Field, Vandergrift
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
The coaches: Altoona - John Franco (235-88-2, 28th year); Kiski Area - Dave Heavner (13-16, fourth year)
Series record: Kiski Area, 2-1 (first met in 2010)
Last meeting: Kiski Area, 7-0 (Sept. 7, 2012)
Kickoff for the Foothills Conference tilt in Vandergrift is set for 7:30 p.m.
"The strength of their team is that they've got some really great skill kids," Franco said of the Cavaliers, who beat Connellsville by 33 points last Friday. "No. 23 [Joe Brungo] is one of the best receivers we'll see all year. They've got about three running backs, and they're just outstanding. The quarterback [Chad Kuhn] was 14-for-14. That's incredible for the first game."
Franco thinks Brungo, a 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior who had eight catches for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first game, is a potential all-state performer. Waterbug freshman Justice Evans led the Cavs on the ground with 69 yards on just four carries, while sophomore Lincoln Clayton added 38 on nine.
Kuhn threw for 164 yards, also finding Tanner George for a 24-yard touchdown strike.
"They can go deep. They can throw short. They really had the whole package going against Connellsville. I watched tape of their scrimmage against State College, and they dominated State College," Franco said.
Luckily for Franco, he has a defense that can be pretty dominating itself at times. The Lions got good efforts from all over in holding Norwin to 205 yards and forcing four turnovers - Division I linebacker prospect Kevin Givens, lineman Jake Scheinberg, linebackers Nick Lytle and Colby Fink, end Isiah Wansley and defensive backs Tyler Wray, Jaret Berardinelli and Joel Reighard were just a few of the Lion defenders who stood out and appeared to get stronger as the game progressed.
"They're a physical bunch," Kiski coach Dave Heavner said. "I know they are lining up with a lot of new starters, but one thing Altoona is is physical. They line up and they come at you whether it's on offense or defense. Last year was probably the most physical game we played all year."
Heavner said the Cavaliers' focus will be on keeping Givens in check both at running back and on defense and containing Lion quarterback Eli Mencer, who rushed for more than 100 yards against Norwin.
For all the ability of Kiski's offense, the Cavaliers beat Altoona 7-0 last year in Mansion Park. Defensively, Kiski is spearheaded by 6-3, 220-pound senior linebacker Shane Kuhn, who returned one of the team's four takeaways against Connellsville for a touchdown.
Kiski ended up 4-6 last year - like Altoona - and qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Franco already has gotten some good news this week: Lineman and quad-captain Nate Farlow has been cleared to play. That could be huge, because Franco said Kiski likes to set things up with a productive inside running game.
"Last year was a 7-nothing game, and we did have several opportunities to score, and we didn't do it, and I could see the same type of game this year," Franco said. "Our defense has to play well. There's no doubt about it. We're not trying to get into any shootouts. We're trying to keep it low scoring and go from there."