Highlanders revert to basics
Heights’ offense puts up points after shutouts
PATTON — In Friday’s Laurel Highlands Conference showdown between Cambria Heights and Penn Cambria, the offense of Cambria Heights seemed to be lacking, despite reaching the end zone four times in its 33-12 win over Penn Cambria.
It was a very mundane evening for the Highlanders on offense, but it had to be that way. After being shut out twice in its previous three games, Cambria Heights had to go backward in order to move forward.
“We had to get back to the basics a little bit,” said Cambria Heights coach Jarrod Lewis. “I think we missed some shots, but I was pretty happy with how we were able to control the line of scrimmage and was happy with getting our running game going again.”
But in all of the dullness, Lucas Fox stood out for the Highlanders, rushing for 43 yards off 10 carries and hauling in four catches for 31 yards, including a pitch-and-catch from 2 yards out on fourth-and-goal to put the game out of reach late in the third quarter.
“I really like to help out my team by being that threat on the outside and on the inside,” said Fox, a senior listed as a wide receiver. “Wherever I can help my team is where I want to be.”
For the most part, Fox was a threat on the inside, moving in motion to receive several handoffs and pitches in the backfield, bouncing to the outside more often than not.
“He’s a great ballplayer,” Lewis said. “We move him around and try to get him the ball anyway we can.”
Not only is Lewis versatile on the offensive side of the ball, but he also plays at several different spots on defense, including defensive back, safety and even linebacker from time to time.
“Corner and safety is where I feel most comfortable,” said Fox, who also plays basketball and is going to give baseball a try this spring. “I like coming in (to the box) and smacking a couple people from time to time too.”
On the other side for Penn Cambria, it was more of the same. The Panthers were limited to one first down in the first half and were 2-13 on third downs in the contest. Penn Cambria showed some life late in the second quarter thanks to a Cambria Heights muffed punt, which the Panthers converted into their first touchdown thanks to prime field position.
But in the second half, Penn Cambria struggled to move the ball and shuffled three different players into the quarterback slot. Freshman Jake Tsikalas was the most efficient, but didn’t see the field until the fourth quarter.
“We’ve been doing that with him the past three or four games now,” said Penn Cambria coach John Franco. “The problem is we’re trying to take it slow with him. We can’t just throw him into the fire. He’s too young; he’s a smart kid, but physically he’s not ready. When he takes a hit, it scares me. In all my years of coaching, I’ve never had concerns like this; this is a new experience for me.”
Now sitting at 4-3, Cambria Heights finishes up the regular season against Bishop Carroll, Bedford and Greater Johnstown. Those teams are a combined 9-11 this season, with Johnstown only having one loss. And with the Highlanders sitting in sixth in the standings last week, their chances to clinch a playoff spot get that much better after Friday’s win.
“We’re definitely taking it one game at a time, but I’m really looking forward to that Bedford game,” Fox said. “We lost to them 8-7 in overtime last year, so I’m looking forward to getting back to that game.”
SCORE BY QUARTER
Penn Cambria 0 6 0 6–13
Cambria Heights 6 13 14 0–33
CH — Bearer 2 run (kick blocked) 2:30
CH — Stockley 2 run (Bearer run) 11:56
CH — PC safety, intentional grounding in end zone 6:48
CH — Boback 31 FG 4:11
PC — T Perrone 26 pass from Talko (pass failed) 0:36
CH — Bearer 1 run (pass failed) 6:30
CH — Fox 2 pass from Bearer (Fox run) 1:14
PC — Lumadue 4 run (kick blocked) 1:50
RUSHING: Penn Cambria–Brown 10-24, Talko 2-(-2), T. Perrone 3-(-9), Lumadue-7-77, Tsikalas 2-(-10). Cambria Heights–Stockley 17-73, Williams 6-24, Fox 10-43, Bearer 5-12, Trybus 6-42.
PASSING: Penn Cambria–Talko 2-14-0-42, T. Perrone 1-2-0-8, Brown 0-1-1-0, Tsikalas 4-7-1-48. Cambria Heights–Bearer 10-21-0-140.
RECEIVING: Penn Cambria–Brown 2-25, T. Perrone 3-45, Mazur 1-1, Weigand 1-28. Cambria Heights–Maul 3-65, Fox 4-31, Brawley 2-29, Hite 1-12.
INTERCEPTIONS: Penn Cambria–None. Cambria Heights–Bearer, Brawley.
TEAM STATISTICS PC CH
First downs 5 16
Rushes-yards 24-80 44-195
Passing (comp. -att. -int.) 7-24-2 10-21-0
Yards passing 98 140
Total yards 178 335
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 5-31 6-32
Punts-avg. 9-25.7 4-34.0