Running the football in spotlight for both BG, CC
By Michael Boytim
At times this season, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic has struggled to stop the run.
Central Cambria has run the ball as well as anybody at certain points this year.
That combination could make Saturday’s Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference showdown more interesting than some of the recent matchups between the local schools.
“The game of football is won or lost on the line of scrimmage almost every game,” Central Cambria coach Shane McGregor said. “BG is well coached and well trained. Even though they don’t have the super talent they’ve had in past years, they’re still a very formidable opponent. We’ll try and work on it this week.”
Unfortunately, the Red Devils will be working on a game plan that doesn’t include Hobbs Dill, who was likely lost for the season with a broken collarbone a few weeks ago.
“There are some things you don’t foresee like Hobbs Dill, arguably our best player, going down,” McGregor said. “But we’ve had a lot of guys who have stepped up and done well over the last three weeks without him, and we have some momentum going into the last three games.”
For what it’s worth, Bishop Guilfoyle coach Justin Wheeler praised Dill and expressed lament the Marauders wouldn’t get to compete against him.
“They have a big offensive line, and their backs who have stepped in have done a good job,” Wheeler said. “Hobbs Dill was one of the best running backs in the area and across the state. We’d rather be facing him, because we hate injuries, but we’re going to have to be more consistent with our front seven.”
Ethan Gillin, among others, has stepped in for Central Cambria, and the Red Devils got their passing game going last week with senior quarterback Ian Little.
“Being a quarterback is like being a point guard. Whether it’s handing the ball off, throwing a quick pass or throwing it over the top, you have to be the guy who gets the ball where it needs to go,” McGregor said. “He’s settled into himself a little bit, and he’s been good.”
Central Cambria started the season 1-3 with losses to defending district champions Bedford, Chestnut Ridge and Central but has won two of its past three games.
“We had a storm to weather to start the year with four tough teams to start,” McGregor said. “Every game in the LHAC is tough, but playing those four teams, we knew we would find out about ourselves. I said if we could be a mature team and take what we learned from those games, whether they were wins or losses, they could maybe set us up for a good run at the end of the year and hopefully for playoffs.”
BG also suffered a setback to Ridge last week.
“We had two first-and-goals inside the 5 and got zero points,” Wheeler said. “There were definitely some things in that game that could have changed the result.”
The Marauders will start working on that against the Red Devils.
“We’re focusing on the red zone and making sure we get points,” Wheeler said. “We want to be able to run the ball and throw when we need to. We’ve been happy with a lot of that the last five weeks, but we want to make sure we’re finishing drives.”
QB finding groove
A major part of Altoona’s success a season ago was Marcus Day’s development as a leader and decision maker in coach Vince Nedimyer Jr.’s offense.
With seven games under his belt as the Mountain Lions starter, Aidan Steinbugl is starting so show signs he can follow in Day’s footsteps.
“He’s doing a nice job of remaining even-keel no matter how bad or good things are going during the game,” Nedimyer said. “He’s an emotional kid. You can see it on the field. He’s into it, and he’s bought into what we’re doing. He’s doing a nice job for us, and I’m proud of him.”
Altoona showed a lot of maturity after losing three straight games and facing another long bus ride last Friday by starting hot in a victory over Chambersburg.
“Obviously, I loved the way we started the game,” Nedimyer said. “Our first two drives were a total of 27 plays and almost 80 yards total, and Sean Bettwy had a pick-6, so we couldn’t have really started any better than what we did. I was proud of that on the road, coming off the bus and playing how we did.”
This week, the Mountain Lions will try and hand Central Dauphin its first Mid-Penn Conference loss at Mansion Park on Friday night.
“They are tough, pretty disciplined and there’s not a real big secret to what they want to do,” Nedimyer said. “Offensively, they want to control the line of scrimmage, and defensively they are physical and get a lot of people to the football. The same things we see year in and year out with them. Their coaches do a good job getting them ready, and they are hard-nosed kids.”
Hollidaysburg fell to 2-4 with an ugly 44-0 loss to McDowell last week, but the Golden Tigers are not overly concerned.
“We had some growing mistakes that if you make them against a real good team, it really gets exemplified,” Hollidaysburg coach Homer DeLattre said. “We just need to find our mistakes out, correct them and move forward.”
Hollidaysburg’s schedule lightens up somewhat compared to McDowell down the stretch, but DeLattre said his team won’t be taking West Mifflin lightly when the Tigers travel near Pittsburgh to take on the Titans Friday.
“West Mifflin is pretty good,” DeLattre said. “They are 1-6, but they do have a win over a 5-2 team in Elizabeth Forward, which is one of the better 3A WPIAL teams. They have a really good schedule that’s really comparable to ours. They play a lot of the top teams in the WPIAL’s 4A classification. They are as good as some of the teams we’ve played the last couple weeks. They have size, speed, strength, multiple 300-pound players and a lot of athletes. Hopefully, we can limit our mistakes, get back on track and be competitive and give ourselves a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter.”