BG tries to keep its momentum

Last week’s 30-6 win at Central Cambria was the most complete performance the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School football team has put together this season, and it looks like the Marauders might be peaking.

However, maintaining your peak performance is harder than reaching it. Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler is very much aware of that.

“As a coach, I think that’s one of the things you worry about all the time,” Wheeler said.

The Marauders will see it they can continue to play at a high level and try to run their winning streak to six games on Saturday afternoon when they travel to Johnstown to face off with Westmont Hilltop at 1 p.m. The Hilltoppers are winless but Wheeler is among those throughout the regional that think Westmont is a much better team than their record shows.

“Last year, we thought we had a pretty good team. Westmont came in and ran it right at us. They put us back on our heels for the better of a quarter,” Wheeler said. “Most of their skill guys are back. They’re looking for a breakout game.”

Wheeler, though, feels confident his players won’t be susceptible to any major letdown. The Marauders, at 5-2, currently are in position to host a District 6 Class A playoff game. If they can win out, they might finish in one of the top two spots, which would have them playing at home all the way through the district finals should they get that far.

“We’ve had a great week of practice. These guys really seem into it. The watch more film than any team I’ve been around. Indications are they’re taking every team seriously,” Wheeler said.

“This is a special group of guys,” Wheeler added. “They had high aspirations at the beginning of the season. It’s been more contagious – the better they play, the more they want to play, the more they want to continue to play. They’ve been focused at practice.”

Although the bulk of his roster – especially high-profile skill position players – are underclassmen, Wheeler said he’s gotten important contributions both in play and in intangibles from seniors like center-defensive tackle John Taddie, offensive tackle-linebacker Rob Luciano, place-kicker Jared Verba and defensive end-running back Nick Little.

Little has 19 tackles for loss and 11 sacks.

“There are some kids [in the senior class] that are definitely contributors in a big way,” Wheeler said. “Most of them are lead-by-example kind of guys. They’re hard-working kids in the weightroom and on the field. They’re well-respected, but they’re not really the scream-and-holler kind of guys.”

Of course, Guilfoyle has several younger standouts. Sam McCloskey leads the team with 432 yards rushing, quarterback Brandon Chadbourn has 728 yards in total offense, and tight end Matt Gormley has registered a team-high 15 receptions.

“Sam McCloskey has already started 25 games as a junior. These kids have been playing a lot of football since freshman year, when they were thrown into the fire pretty quickly,” Wheeler said.

Chadbourn ran for 150 yards last week as Guilfoyle improved to 5-2 by topping then-once-beaten Central Cambria.

The Hilltoppers have been in a number of their contests before falling out of contention in the second half.

“The kids have been great, surprisingly. They’ve worked hard,” Westmont coach Pat Barron said. “The problem for us comes down to defense. If we swarm and aren’t arm-tackling, we can be a pretty good football team. We haven’t done that the last couple of weeks.”

Hilltopper running back Sam Curry has 747 yards on the ground, while QB Liam Moran has thrown for 647 yards and completing more than 54 percent of his throws. Colin Barron has 30 catches.

Moran missed last week’s game with Richland because of injury and is questionable for Saturday. If he can’t go, Curry probably would move to quarterback.

“We’re going to have to match their intensity. They’re a big-time, physical bunch,” Coach Barron said. “If we don’t, it will be a long day.”