Altoona trying to build off momentum of shutout victory
Following a quick start against Hollidaysburg, Altoona’s defense struggled to stop the Golden Tigers and a 42-27 final dampened some of the excitement about the Mountain Lions getting out of the WPIAL and starting fresh in the Mid-Penn League.
A 38-0 thrashing of a Williamsport team that had scored 62 points in its opener quickly parted the clouds Friday night.
“Our kids all week came out ready to practice,” Altoona coach Nick Felus said. “Our defensive coordinator had a great gameplan, and everything came together. We still have a ways to go, but it was good to make corrections and you saw that on Friday.”
Altoona continues its homestand went it takes on Allerdice, the only team on its schedule it played last year. That game was a thrilling 35-34 triumph, one of just two the Mountain Lions picked up.
“(Allerdice) has a lot of good skill guys and a good quarterback who can make plays,” Felus said. “They have bigger guys up front on defense, and we know what we did against them the past few years, but anytime on offense they can score from anywhere on the field. We have to keep wrapping up on defense and maximizing our potential.”
Altoona has a chance to build up some momentum with its first Mid-Penn game at home next week against Chambersburg, but Felus warned against looking too far ahead.
“We just go into each week and just focus on what we need to do to get better,” Felus said. “We put all the focus on us as a team and how we can get better. If we focus on ourselves and our program, I think we’ll be okay.”
Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler is spending the week doing something he hasn’t done since 2013 — making sure his team has recovered from and moved on from a regular-season loss.
“We hope we’ll be OK,” Wheeler said. “Part of our job as coaches is that we have to have them move on win or lose, and hopefully we can do a good job getting our kids prepared for a big challenge in Cambria Heights.”
The Highlanders, who will host BG Friday, are 0-2 after a 6-0 loss to Penn Cambria and a loss to Richland in which they were very competitive in the first half. Cambria Heights’ first two opponents are now a combined 4-0.
“They are a big, physical team,” Wheeler said. “It’s going to be a challenge, and we have to stop the run, something they do well and have been getting better at each week.”
Stopping the run is something the Marauders struggled with Saturday, even though they knew it was coming. Westmont Hilltop rushed for219 yards on 44 carries and did not attempt a pass in a 30-0 triumph at Mansion Park.
“The biggest thing we need to work on is not having turnovers and being able to run the football,” Wheeler said. “We have prided ourselves on running the football, and we didn’t do a good job the first two weeks. We’ll be stressing that pretty heavily in practice.”
Bill Musser ran into a few bumps in the road early during his tenure at Juniata Valley, but he led the Green Hornets to a playoff victory a season ago. Now, after two years off the schedule, Bellwood-Antis returns to JV’s A.R. Simkins Field Friday night to renew what has become one of the Inter-County Conference’s better rivalries.
“We’ve been down there before when I was an assistant, and it’s always a tough place to play,” Bellwood-Antis coach Nick Lovrich said. “They always play us tough even when they’ve struggled during a season. Our kids relish that rivalry with them. This is the biggest game for us, because we’re trying to liken everything to playing a state championship game every week. They will be ready for us, and we’re looking for an exciting game.”
Both teams are 1-1 after rebounding from first-week losses.
“We’re coming together and playing much better,” Musser said. “Since the middle of the second quarter of the Everett game, we’ve come together nicely as a team.”
After not starting the game at quarterback, Juniata Valley’s Quinn Zinobile had a big game for the Green Hornets once he got under center in Friday’s win over Mount Union.
“They have really good skill guys,” Lovrich said. “Zinobile is an elusive, strong runner. He breaks tackles, and we need to do a good job stopping him. He lets receivers get open, and they are good playmakers. Defensively, we have to do our job.”
Musser also is worried about his opponent’s explosiveness.
“We’re going to have to limit their big plays and be consistent,” Musser said. “Bellwood is notorious for big plays.”
Musser said one of the keys will be limiting penalties. Juniata Valley made 16 in its first game, a loss, and made six in its second, a win.
“This game gives us the opportunity to measure ourselves against the best in the ICC,” Musser said. “Having Bellwood come in here, the kids are only 20 minutes apart from us and they communicate every day. They have a big team and a great fan base.”