Altoona building on win
Vince Nedimyer Jr. has been preaching patience since he took the job as head coach of the Altoona football program.
After a pair of lopsided losses to begin the season, a win over Allderdice last Friday will certainly help the wait while the Mountain Lions work out all the kinks.
“I’m so happy for our kids, because even before our first game, they knew this was going to be a work in progress,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “The kids deserve this success, because they earned it. We made plays when we needed to make plays.”
Altoona took a 23-0 lead in the first quarter, but Allderdice fought back to tie the game before the Mountain Lions eventually won their home opener, 33-29.
“We have been preaching that we don’t want to give up big plays,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “But occasionally, that’s going to happen, and it did Friday. But when it does happen, we tell them don’t cave, and continue to bend but don’t break. That’s how we responded when they tied it up, and it’s a tribute to our kids.”
That progress will have to continue Friday when Altoona travels to Chambersburg. The Trojans have started their season the opposite of the Mountain Lions with a pair of one-sided victories followed by a 26-21 loss to Red Lion last week.
“Chambersburg is good,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “They have a veteran team with a lot of seniors, and they are athletic, physical and everything we knew about Mid Penn teams. It’s definitely nice to have a win going in to our conference season. Hopefully, we’ll be hungry enough and give them a good game down there, that’s exactly what we expect.”
SUBHED: Big challenge
Hollidaysburg dealt with breaking in new starters on the offensive and defensive side of the ball about as best as could be expected in its first two games this season, both wins, over Altoona and Mifflin County.
That momentum came to a bit of a screeching halt Friday when State College scored on the first play from scrimmage and led, 42-0, at the half.
To add to the Golden Tigers issues, Jared Dick, Trenton Paddock, Gavin Amick and Nate Barrick didn’t finish the State College game after coming out with injuries. Starters Mason Replogle, Hunter Barr and D.J. Heim, among others, were already out for that game.
“We have to get healthy,” Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. “We’re quite banged up, and unfortunately Cedar Cliff (the Golden Tigers’ next opponent) is probably more physical than anyone we’ve played. State College is probably more fast than physical.”
DeLattre described Cedar Cliff’s Jaheim Morris as one of the best running backs in the Mid Penn.
“They have really good returning starters,” DeLattre said. “They were the Keystone Conference winners last year, and we had a good game with them last year.”
DeLattre said plenty of things jumped out when he reviewed the game tape of the State College contest.
“Execution is the big thing,” DeLattre said. “There were some missed yards in the State College game, and there were a number of things we didn’t execute. There was a quick screen that should have had a big play, and then on another where Bryce (Martellacci) threw an interception on a tipped ball, if your back catches that, we’re past midfield on our opening drive, and that could have been up big. Those mistakes add up.”
Though Martellacci lost his first game as a starting quarterback at Hollidaysburg, DeLattre was impressed with the way he never quit.
“He had a great game,” DeLattre said. “In the third quarter, when he led us on a touchdown drive, he was as intense as ever, like it was to win the game. He’s full of leadership, and on the sidelines, you can see his competitiveness, getting us to line, getting us into plays. I was more impressed with him in that game than in the other games.”
SUBHED: LHAC battle
When Central Cambria visits Bishop Guilfoyle Friday night, it will be a matchup of two 2-1 Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference teams that both have a loss to Westmont Hilltop.
That’s where the similarities between how the Marauders and Red Devils have gotten to this point end.
Justin Wheeler has built Bishop Guilfoyle into a state-wide power, while Shane McGregor is trying to change the culture at Central Cambria after several losing seasons.
The Red Devils won their first two games and scored 109 points in those contests after scoring just 92 all of last season.
“The first two weeks, there was electricity I hadn’t felt in a long time,” McGregor said. “It was a good start and a reward for the hard work since last November. But that’s the honeymoon stage, and now we have to play some good football teams, and if we do lose like we did to Westmont, we have to turn it into good things, see where they exposed us, and build on it.”
The Marauders are coming off a win over Cambria Heights in which Konnor Kiesewetter helped quarterback the team to their most balanced offensive performance this season.
“We were focused developing our passing game at practice,” Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler said. “Konner was going into his fourth or fifth start at the position, and he’s coming around. He’s seeing things and making better choices. We want to see him open it up and throw the ball 15 or 20 times a game.”
That’s something that could play into Central Cambria’s favor as the Red Devils have been opportunistic by scoring plenty on defense this season.
“We have to bring pressure and get good defensive line play,” McGregor said. “Our secondary can do some things. Luca Tsikalas already has thre interceptions, and a couple other guys have been having good seasons. It starts with pressure, and Dylan Long has done a lot. We have to get back to that this week at practice.”
Wheeler is wary of the importance of holding on to the ball against the Red Devils.
“We tell kids every year that the turnover margin is important,” Wheeler said. “It’s really huge this week, because they have scored a ton on defense. We need to take care of the ball and give ourselves more opportunities.”