PC next up for potent BG offense
H.S. football: Week 2
Penn Cambria at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic
Where: Mansion Park.
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Records: Both teams are 1-0 overall and in the Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference.
Coaches: Nick Felus is 13-38 overall in six seasons – 6-15 in his third year at Penn Cambria, after going 7-23 in three seasons at Altoona. Justin Wheeler is 107-25 in 11 seasons at Bishop Guilfoyle.
Last week: Bishop Guilfoyle won, 49-6 at Johnstown and Penn Cambria won, 27-14 at home over Westmont Hilltop.
Last meeting: Bishop Guilfoyle won, 20-6 in 2019 at Mansion Park.
By John Hartsock
After the graduation of two-time Altoona Mirror Football Player of the Year and star running back Keegan Myrick this past spring, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School is striving for more balance in its offense this season.
The Marauders achieved that balance in their season-opening game last Friday night, rolling to a 49-6 Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference victory over Johnstown on the road.
BG coach Justin Wheeler is hoping for a similar showing from his team on Saturday night, when the Marauders open the home portion of their schedule with a 7 p.m. LHAC kickoff against Penn Cambria at Mansion Park.
Penn Cambria opened its season at home last Friday by beating Westmont Hilltop, 27-14.
Junior quarterback Karson Kiesewetter shined in his first varsity start, completing five of six passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns, and also rushing for 44 yards on four carries and two more touchdowns.
Junior running back Cooper Rother caught two Kiesewetter touchdown passes, had three receptions overall for 90 yards, and rushed for an additional 61 yards on five carries for BG.
Senior quarterback-wideout Haiden Garner also had three short touchdown runs as the Marauders racked up 291 yards in total offense.
“Our varsity group had seven possessions and scored seven times,” Wheeler said. “For opening day, we were real happy with the way that we came out and with the way that we played.
“The past two years, Keegan was kind of our guy on offense, but now I think that our balance on offense is something that we maybe haven’t had in awhile,” Wheeler added. “I think that being balanced and spreading the ball around is going to be important for us.”
Kiesewetter’s performance was an integral part of BG’s attack in its season opener.
“Karson made his first varsity start, and he did well,” Wheeler said. “He did a really did a good job of getting better all summer, and we’re definitely excited to see that.”
Rother has been a three-year starter at cornerback on defense who has also played three years in the offensive backfield.
Garner has been battling through some injuries, and had only four carries against Johnstown, but scored three times, and is expected to see more extensive action this week.
“Our offense was really clicking last week,” Rother said. “Our offensive line did a really good job on their assignments, and everybody on our team played with a lot of energy. We wanted to go out there and win.”
Penn Cambria is led by 6-foot-3,185-pound junior quarterback Garrett Harrold, who exhibited his ability as a dual offensive threat against Westmont. Harrold completed 12 of 24 passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns – including a 71-yard, fourth-down game-winning throw to sophomore wideout Carter McDermott with 3:47 left. Harrold also rushed for 141 yards on 15 carries and another score, as Penn Cambria compiled 448 yards in total offense.
“This is our quarterback’s third year in our system, he has an unbelievable command of our offense, and he can make plays with both his arm and legs,” Penn Cambria coach Nick Felus said of Harrold, a three-sport standout.
“One of our goals entering this season was to be able to run the ball consistently and we did that last Friday night,” Felus added. “It all starts up front, and our guys on the offensive line have done a phenomenal job preparing over the last couple of weeks. We have a young receiving corps with mostly first-year starters, but a lot of those guys stepped up and did the things that we needed them to do last week.”
Both coaches have great respect for the teams they’ll be facing Saturday.
“(BG) is good all-around,” Felus said. “Offensively, they’re good up front, their quarterback does a really nice job of making decisions, and they have a lot of good skill players on the perimeter. Defensively, they like to bring a lot of pressure, and they’re aggressive.
“They’re a well-rounded, well-coached team, and I know that they’re going to put their best foot forward on Saturday night,” Felus said.
Wheeler praised Harrold’s ability, but also pointed out that Penn Cambria has several other weapons – including an experienced offensive line and junior running back Zach Grove, who rushed for 65 yards and scored twice against Westmont.
“Garrett Harrold is definitely a big-time player,” Wheeler said. “Every (opposing) coach must start their game plan by attempting to slow him down, because he’s such a dual threat.
“They have a quality football team and they’re going to win a lot of games this year,” Wheeler added. “This is going to be a battle, for sure.”