Erie area special place for DeLattre

By Philip Cmor

If not for Erie, Homer DeLattre might not be the head football coach at Hollidaysburg Area High School right now.

After spending a few years as an assistant locally, the former Moshannon Valley High School standout, passed over in a coaching search at Glendale, where he was an assistant, decided to pursue at opening at Corry. He got that job and had a nice run there, winning 52 games and laying the groundwork for a return to Central PA.

Now, for the first time since leaving Erie County five years ago, DeLattre will return there to guide the Golden Tigers into a clash with perennial big-school power McDowell. The Tigers are 3-2, finishing a brutal segment of their schedule. McDowell is 2-3 but has played some top-notch programs from all points between Buffalo and Cleveland.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

“It’s pretty fun,” DeLattre said of making the trip back north. “My brother lives up there still, and I’ve got a lot of family. My Corry friends have been texting me. I guess McDowell was on the news, and they were talking about our game.

“It’ll be great to get out for the area and see some great competition. I’ve been in touch with some of my college coaching friends up there at Edinboro and Gannon and Mercyhurst. It’s good for our kids to be able to get out of Central PA and be seen by some of those schools as well.”

DeLattre made a statewide name for himself at Corry, becoming a major figure in the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association during his 11-year run with the Beavers.

“I knew Homer from when he was up here,” McDowell coach Bo Orlando said. “They’re well-coached on both sides of the ball.”

DeLattre is hoping to enhance that image by beating McDowell to follow up a bounce-back win last week against Brashear in which the Tigers had their best point-production and run-defending performance of the season in answer to back-to-back losses to State College and Fort Hill, Md.

Obviously, it won’t be easy. McDowell is a bigger school coming off a 9-2 season, and Hollidaysburg will be playing four hours from home, to boot.

“This week, we face a similar style offense to what State College runs,” DeLattre said, referring to a multiple spread. “They use H-back sets. They use spread sets. The quarterback’s a really good runner.”

The Trojans are led by running back Xavier Pulliam, who averages 6.0 yards per carry, and quarterback Regan Schleicher, who has thrown for more than 600 yards and rushed for 308.

The concern is that Hollidaysburg allowed more than 500 yards in its 55-27 loss to State College three weeks ago, including 465 on the ground. DeLattre, though, expects the Tigers to be in better position to defend the Trojans than they were the Little Lions.

“We think we’re more prepared for this week just because we faced a similar team in State College before,” DeLattre said. “We made adjustments, making sure we’re protecting the edge. We got pressure on the quarterback last week; we’ve got to continue to do that. We hope to be able to do a better job of getting pressure on the quarterback without having to blitz as much. That’s the next step for us.”

Brashear had minus-4 yards rushing against Hollidaysburg. The Bulls did throw for 321, but part of that was two touchdown passes — one a 99-yarder — after the Tigers already had forged a 42-12 lead.

This game marks the conclusion of a particularly difficult part of the schedule for Hollidaysburg. Although DeLattre pointed out that Week 7 opponent Allderdice is 3-2 right now, three of the Tigers’ last four foes were district champions last season. Fort Hill has won multiple state titles recently.

“It’s a tough stretch,” DeLattre said.

DeLattre won’t get much sympathy from Orlando. The Trojans opened the year with national power Saint Edward of suburban Cleveland, traveled to Buffalo Saint Francis, then came back to Erie to play state powerhouse Cathedral Prep and Clarkson Football North, a private Canadian academy outside Toronto devoted to developing gridiron talent.

After this, they play Erie High and Austintown Fitch from Ohio.

“I think Homer and us are in a similar boat,” Orlando said. “We lost a lot (of starting talent) from last year. We lost nine or 10 on defense and I think eight on offense.”

Patrick Young rushed for a season-high 98 yards against Brashear, while Gus Dellinger made nine tackles, Mason McCready seven, and Michael Day had an interception. DeLattre still is looking for more consistency from the Tigers and a complete performance in all phases.

“I think we’re finally starting to get healthy,” DeLattre said. “Hopefully it shows.”

The matchup

Game: Hollidaysburg Golden Tigers (3-2) vs. McDowell Trojans (2-3)

Where: McDowell Stadium, Erie

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

The coaches: Hollidaysburg — Homer DeLattre (74-88, 16th year); McDowell — Bo Orlando (26-16, fourth year)

Series record: McDowell, 8-5 (first met in 1978)

Last meeting: McDowell, 32-9 (Sept. 30, 2016)