Tigers make statement
When the Altoona Mountain Lions opened their season last week by thrashing traditionally-respected Cumberland Valley, most figured the crosstown rivals from Hollidaysburg arrived at Mansion Park as underdogs Friday night.
Well, as Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast, my friends.”
If the Tigers were underdogs, they didn’t get the memo, evidenced by their convincing 26-12 victory.
Or maybe they did get the memo, and it stoked their motivation.
“I know how it is. They beat Cumberland Valley, and that’s all anybody wanted to talk about,” Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. “They were glorified, no offense. But we said we’re the best football program in the area, and we proved that again tonight.”
At least in this rivalry, there’s no argument.
Hollidaysburg’s victory was its third straight over the Lions and also ended with the Tigers taking a knee at the Altoona 3-yard line.
“This is the greatest thing we could ever do — senior year, and we’ve gone undefeated against them,” senior defensive end Gavin Amick, whose pressure in the end zone helped create a safety and a 9-0 lead in the second quarter. “I can’t put it into words.”
“This game means everything,” senior center Michael Scarpelli said. “This is the game we were looking forward to. We wanted to get that 3-0 for the seniors, and it feels great.”
Hollidaysburg, now 2-2, dominated both sides of scrimmage, converting their first four third-down opportunities and then a fourth-and-14 with a 16-yard completion from Bryce Martellacci to Evan Brozenich.
On defense, the Tigers stuffed Altoona’s first advance on fourth-and-short and, after taking a 7-0 lead, pressured Lion quarterback Marcus Day into a generously-called safety but one that still came with three defenders draped all over Day in the end zone.
“Coach (Homer DeLattre) talked about controlling the line of scrimmage, and I think we did that,” Scarpelli said.
Altoona coach Vince Nedimyer agreed.
“They were physical. And that’s our goal — any football team you want to be more physical than your opponent, and that didn’t happen for us tonight,” he said. “That’s a credit to them. They stopped us on fourth down, and they went down the field and kind of set the tempo for the game.”
Each time Altoona pulled within a score — first at 9-6 and then at 12-6 — the Tigers answered with a score. Their special teams were also efficient.
“We had some good plays, a couple formations,” DeLattre said. “We have some tremendous coaches that within a few plays, we can figure out what our opponent is going to do and adjust.”
Nedimyer: “Its being prepared to play and how you come out and being able to adjust on the run, and they did that better than we did.”
After Altoona played to a large crowd in its opener, Gov. Wolf did another about-face and limited Friday’s attendance to 250 — including the teams.
That meant parents-only, and Nedimyer called the situation “odd” but made no excuses.
“That’s out of our control,” he said. “It still was a good atmosphere, and it’s something these kids will remember the rest of their lives. They’ve gotten us the last three times, and that’s a credit to them.”
DeLattre’s message to his team was, “worry about ourselves and what we can control.”
“We don’t worry about the other factors — who plays and who beats who,” he said. “If we get better all year long, then we’re going to be in every game we play.”
Nedimyer spent time in the past few years on DeLattre’s staff. DeLattre called him “a wonderful guy,” and Nedimyer shares the respect.
“I interviewed for the (Hollidaysburg) job when he got it (in 2013),” Nedimyer said. “I’ve known those guys, (Tiger assistants) Todd (Consiglio) and R.J. (Albarano), for a long time. We’ve got a good relationship. Homer’s a great guy, and his teams are always prepared, and it kind of showed tonight.”
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or email@example.com