Marauders eye bigger Heights

Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School’s four-year winning streak reached 50 games last Friday when the Marauders blanked Bishop McCort, 19-0 at Mansion Park.

But BG coach Justin Wheeler is trying to help his team turn the page after that magnificent accomplishment.

“I think 50 was a big milestone, but as a team, we really don’t want to talk about it,” Wheeler said. “It seems to be always there, though, and it is talked about a lot within our community. As a team, we’re trying really hard to focus on the next game. I always tell the players that the previous week is not going to help them win the next game.”

The next game for the Marauders (3-0 overall and in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference) is a big conference Section I matchup against Cambria Heights Friday night at Patton Stadium. Kickoff for the Section I opener for both teams is set for 7 p.m.

Cambria Heights (2-1 overall this season) features a potent aerial attack that is spearheaded by senior quarterback Brandon Bearer, who has completed 26 of 40 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns this season.

Bearer’s favorite target, senior wideout Nick Brawley, has 15 receptions for 207 yards and four touchdowns.

The Bearer-Brawley combination gives opposing defenses plenty of reason to be on their toes.

“Cambria Heights has always been known to run the ball, but this year, their quarterback gives them another dimension,” Wheeler said of Bearer. “He throws a nice ball. Cambria Heights just runs the ball down your throat, but this year, what makes them more dangerous is their balance and their ability to throw the ball.”

While Brawley has been Bearer’s most prominent target, the Highlanders also have a couple of other fine skill players in senior running back/receiver Lucas Fox and junior tight end Damon Maul.

“Teams have geared up to stop our run, but Brandon has been able to make them pay by making some great throws, and our receiving corps of Brawley, Fox and Maul have created matchup problems for our opposition,” Heights coach Jarrod Lewis said.

Bishop Guilfoyle, of course, has several fine offensive weapons of its own. Senior Mark Conrad has made most of the Marauders’ throws at quarterback this year, completing 21 of 41 passing attempts for 375 yards and five touchdowns.

Conrad also splits out to the wideout position on occasion, and has caught two touchdown passes totaling 91 yards.

Senior Michael Berish has caught seven passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, while the Marauders’ rushing attack is led by senior backs Josh Yasulitis (27 carries, 160 yards, one touchdown) and Altoona High transfer Max Sankey (28 carries, 159 yards, two touchdowns).

Yasulitis has also spent some time at the quarterback position and has thrown a pair of long touchdown passes in the Marauders’ first three games.

“With Guilfoyle, the Conrad kid is an absolute stud, and so is Yasulitis,” Lewis said. “Whenever they line up, they pose a threat. Those are two guys, along with Berish, that we need to know where they are at on the field at all times.”

Guilfoyle opened the season impressively with a 42-6 victory over Bedford, then survived a sluggish offensive performance in a 13-7 road win over Westmont Hilltop in a game that was played at Johnstown High School’s Athletic Field. The Marauders threw for 181 yards in the win over McCort last week.

“We were able to have some success through the air with three scores, and two different quarterbacks (Conrad, two touchdowns) and Yasulitis (one touchdown) throwing for touchdowns,” Wheeler said. “I think that was the difference in the game.”

After opening with a 31-7 win over Richland, Cambria Heights lost at Bishop McCort (34-16). Last Friday, the Highlanders beat a solid Somerset team, 35-12, as senior back Alex Hite rushed for 74 yards on eight carries and Heights piled up 171 yards on the ground.

Lewis brushed aside the notion that his team will have a little extra inspiration against BG.

“Honestly, I think that we have a veteran team that approaches every game with a sense of urgency, and this week will be no different,” Lewis said. “In our minds, this is the only game that matters, because it is our next game.”

The matchup

Game: Bishop Guilfoyle Marauders (3-0) vs. Cambria Heights Highlanders (2-1)

Where: Patton Stadium, Patton

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

The coaches: Bishop Guilfoyle — Justin Wheeler (70-14, seventh year); Cambria Heights — Jarrod Lewis (27-40, seventh year)

Series record: Bishop Guilfoyle, 21-4 (first met in 1961)

Last meeting: Bishop Guilfoyle, 48-3 (Sept. 16, 2016)