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First away game this year on tap for Lions, Eagles

Jimiere Hardison reaches for extra yards as Brody Rishel dives for the tackle.

By Andy Stine

astine@altoonamirror.com

Starting off any football season with a home game is a privilege that only about half the country gets to do. Those teams may get a second game at home in Week 2, but mostly everybody has gone on the road at least once after the third week of the season.

Altoona and Tyrone had the very rare advantage of playing all four of its first four games at home this season, and both the Mountain Lions and Golden Eagles are now finally going away from Mansion Park and Gray-Veterans Memorial Field, respectively, in Week 5.

Both teams have taken advantage of playing their first four games on their home turf. Altoona goes to Central Dauphin East with a 3-1 record on the line, while Tyrone visits Huntingdon with a perfect 4-0 record.

The Mountain Lions opened the season with a close 19-9 win over Hollidaysburg before getting convincing wins over Allderdice and Mifflin County. Their lone loss came last week to a loaded State College team that usually has aspirations of making deep runs into the PIAA 6A playoffs.

“Way back when we saw the schedule and how things fell into place, I was glad we had an away scrimmage (at DuBois) so that we could at least have the feeling of getting on a bus and going away and having to get prepared to play somebody else on their home turf,” Altoona head coach Vince Nedimyer Jr. said. “To play at home four weeks in a row was pretty special, and fortunately we had some success up until last week.

“We’re familiar with going down to Harrisburg and playing Central Dauphin East. I think our kids will be ready to go.”

Much like Altoona, Tyrone also was on the road for a scrimmage at Bishop Guilfoyle. The Golden Eagles started off the year with a 27-12 victory in the Backyard Brawl over Bellwood-Antis, and have since had dominating victories over Brookville (30-0), Philipsburg-Osceola (49-0), and Bellefonte (37-7).

The Week 2 game with Brookville was originally supposed to be in Brookville, but the Raiders were forced to play the game in Tyrone as their stadium had lighting issues. Brookville finally played their first home game last week.

“I don’t even remember playing at home the first opening three games in a row,” Tyrone head coach John Franco said. “We’ve done two in a row, but that’s rare. It’s definitely a nice situation to be in. No doubt about it. But you have to do both. It really shouldn’t make that big of a difference.”

Although it has taken until close to the middle of the season to play on the road for the first time, both Nedimyer and Franco said there won’t be too much of a difference in the way they prepare.

“For the most part, these kids have a routine themselves,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “We have a group of kids that have played for us now for a couple years. I think we’ll keep it as similar as possible.”

Central Dauphin East comes into Friday night with a 2-2 record and coming off a 45-14 loss to Cumberland Valley last week. The Panthers have wins over Reading (31-12) and Northeastern (34-7).

“They’re always well-coached. They’re fundamentally sound. They’re always tough kids down in that area that compete,” Nedimyer Jr. said. “We’re definitely getting back to that a little bit with some competition stuff at practice, and just having our kids compete and try to forget about last week. They just need to move on, and get ready to go play a good team in CD East.”

Huntingdon picked up its first win since the 2019 season back in Week 2 – a 14-10 victory over Philipsburg-Osceola. The Bearcats also have a close loss to Mount Union (7-0), as well as setbacks to Penns Valley (41-14) and Tussey Mountain (22-6).

“Huntingdon and Tyrone has always had a pretty neat rivalry in just about every sport over the years,” Franco said. “There’s a rivalry factor in there that you can throw the records out the window because you know they’re going to play really tough and really hard.

“They’re going to give us their best shot, and we are preparing likewise.”

Both games will kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday night.

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