Week 2 preview United Valley faces tough test in West Shamokin (with picks)

Sep. 1—The second-year football co-op between Blacklick Valley and United continues to trend upward after a signature victory in the season opener.

Veteran coach Kevin Marabito described a subtle, yet significant change in attitude that was evident in the final minutes of United Valley's 20-14 win over the defending District 6 Class 1A champion Northern Cambria Colts at Duffy Daugherty Memorial Stadium.

"We took some major steps," Marabito said, as his Lions prepared for another tough Heritage Conference matchup against West Shamokin on Friday at Blacklick Valley High School's McMullen Memorial Field in Nanty Glo.

"Last year, we were trying to figure out a way to win," Marabito said. "This year, we faced that adversity. Northern Cambria scored right toward the end of the game with a couple minutes to go and got the onside kick.

"Last year, we would have been figuring out how 'not to lose.' They recovered the ball, and we battled them for four downs and got the ball back.

"We're finally learning how to win."

Actually, the Lions have four consecutive wins dating to the final three dates in 2022.

One preseason coaches' poll tabbed United Valley to finish first in the Heritage Conference, followed by Northern Cambria and West Shamokin.

All indications point to another stiff test when the 1-0 Wolves visit the 1-0 Lions at the field formerly used by Blacklick Valley. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

"They have players back from last year. They're stout up front," Marabito said of West Shamokin, a 40-18 winner at Penns Manor in Week 1.

"Lou Swartz is a player. West Shamokin is legitimate. Early in the season, we're getting some tough teams. Top to bottom, our league is going to be a dogfight."

A 6-foot-1, 240-pound senior, Swartz rushed for 341 yards and six touchdowns and passed for 39 yards at Penns Manor.

"We're going to have to tackle," Marabito said. "If we hit him up high, he's going to carry you. He's a bull. He's a quality back. We've got to tackle him low. He's a force.

"They have two big tackles that are tough. We have to be able to stop the run."

West Shamokin coach Jon McCullough said he's accustomed to witnessing huge efforts from Swartz, but during the game, he had no idea just how many yards his playmaker accumulated.

"Over the last three seasons, we've seen some outstanding efforts from him," McCullough said. "I wasn't terribly surprised with how he performed on Friday night, but I hadn't realized how many yards he racked up.

"It's a credit to our offensive line," the coach said, citing returning right tackle Blake Pegg and experienced sophomore left tackle Conner Gervasoni. "Our line did an outstanding job, especially with three new starters. They stepped up and did extremely well. That gives us confidence going forward knowing they are capable of producing at a high level."

United Valley also gained confidence as Isaac Worthington passed to Gino DiPaolo for a touchdown and ran for another score. Caden McCully added a 10-yard TD run as the Lions led 21-7 before the Colts provided late drama capped by United Valley's defensive stand to force a turnover on downs.

"From what I've seen of United and knowing what they have back from last year, they are a pretty tough opponent," McCullough said.

"Coach Marabito, I have a ton of respect for him and the job they do over there."

Marabito said playing at the former Nanty Glo field twice each season creates an exciting atmosphere while also helping the players, parents and fans from Blacklick Valley build on their school's football legacy.

"This whole merger has been great," Marabito said. "Both communities are pretty much the same. The kids get along.

"To make this thing work, we didn't take the identity away from Blacklick Valley.

"It's special to play games up there. It's senior night for the Blacklick players. It's going to be an all-around special night for them."

The remainder of this weekend's schedule involving area teams, with all starting times at 7 p.m., follows:


Conemaugh Township (0-1) at Portage (1-0)

Last week: River Valley 28, Conemaugh Township 7; Portage 34, Conemaugh Valley 7.

About the Indians: Conemaugh Township quarterback Jon Updyke rushed for 154 yards, passed for 85 and his 76-yard touchdown run was the lone score for the Indians at River Valley.

About the Mustangs: Portage junior Issac Willinsky rambled through or shed tacklers to gain 145 yards and score two TDs in the season-opening win. The Mustangs' stout defense was just as impressive at Conemaugh Valley, limiting the Blue Jays to one first-half score.

Marion Center (0-1) at Cambria Heights (0-1)

Last week: Homer-Center 29, Marion Center 14; Purchase Line 19, Cambria Heights 7.

About the Stingers: Each of these teams looks to bounce back after dropping their respective season openers. Marion Center allowed three touchdown passes in Week 1 against visiting Homer-Center and the Wildcats' line controlled the tempo in the third quarter.

About the Highlanders: Cambria Heights looks to get the offense clicking after gaining 128 total yards, including a team-high 55 rushing yards by Stephen Nelen, who ran 4 yards for the Highlanders' lone score at Purchase Line.

Conemaugh Valley (0-1) at Northern Cambria (0-1)

Last week: Portage 34, Conemaugh Valley 7; United Valley 20, Northern Cambria 14.

About the Blue Jays: A pair of first-half turnovers put Conemaugh Valley in a hole against a tough Portage team. Neither squad scored in the second half until the Mustangs punched in a TD with 1:06 left. Devon Chontas ran for 128 yards, including his team's lone TD.

About the Colts: The defending District 6 Class 1A champs look to bounce back after a key early season setback against conference preseason favorite United Valley. Ethan Donatelli passed for 219 yards, including a pair of TDs to Ty Dumm.


Somerset (0-1) at Central (1-0)

Last week: Chestnut Ridge 42, Somerset 14; Central 49, Bellefonte 0.

About the Golden Eagles: Lane Lambert threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Cole Parry, and Carter Dunmeyer returned a kickoff 81 yards for a score in a season-opening loss to visiting Chestnut Ridge.

About the Scarlet Dragons: Central lost several veteran playmakers to graduation, including record-setting quarterback Jeff Hoenstine. The Scarlet Dragons didn't miss a beat in a season-opening shutout win. New QB Eli Muthler completed 9 of 14 passes for 289 yards and three TDs, and receiver Jacob Benton caught five passes for 219 yards and a pair of scores.

Bald Eagle Area (1-0) at Central Cambria (1-0)

Last week: Bald Eagle Area 17, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic 7; Central Cambria 15, McCort-Carroll 10.

About the Eagles: Bald Eagle Area picked up a solid win over perennial conference, district and statewide power Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic in Week 1. Quarterback Carson Nagle completed 8 of 17 passes for 172 yards. He converted a fourth down on a 27-yard tipped pass to Kahale Burns that set up a field goal by Kaden Burns to give the Golden Eagles a 10-7 lead.

About the Red Devils: Central Cambria made a last-minute defensive stand to earn a five-point victory over McCort-Carroll Catholic at Sargent's Stadium. On fourth-and-8, the Red Devils stopped the Crushers just shy of a conversion and then ran out the clock.

Bellefonte (0-1) at Chestnut Ridge (1-0)

Last week: Central 49, Bellefonte 0; Chestnut Ridge 42, Somerset 14.

About the Raiders: Bellefonte will try to improve on a defense that allowed Central to gain 531 yards and an offense that answered with 127 yards, including 58 rushing yards by Sherman Lowry.

About the Lions: Chestnut Ridge scored 35 second-half points to pull away from host Somerset. The Lions rushed for 265 yards, including Jeb Emerick's 142 yards and three TDs on 14 carries. Nate Whysong completed 9 of 12 passes for 120 yards and a TD.

Clearfield (1-0) at Forest Hills (1-0)

Last week: Clearfield 29, Tyrone 21; Forest Hills 47, Greater Johnstown 0.

About the Bison: The new-look LHAC will provide a first-time meeting of these two teams. Clearfield picked up a hard-fought victory over Tyrone after trailing 14-2 at halftime and 21-8 midway through the third quarter. The Bison tallied the game's final 21 points. Will Domico passed for 228 yards, Brady Collins rushed for 125 yards and Carter Freeland totaled 147 receiving yards.

About the Rangers: Forest Hills passed for four TDs and rushed for three more, while the defense shut out host Greater Johnstown. Nate Cornell passed for 171 yards and three TDs (11 of 19). The Rangers have never met Clearfield since the program started in 1966.

Richland (1-0) at Huntingdon (0-1)

Last week: Richland 26, Penn Cambria 21; Philipsburg-Osceola 35, Huntingdon 7.

About the Rams: Richland tallied three second-half touchdowns to take a narrow win over Penn Cambria. Evan McCracken carried 23 times for 160 yards and touchdown runs of 1, 19 and 42 yards.

About the Bearcats: Huntingdon scored the first touchdown of the game, but allowed 35 unanswered points by Philipsburg-Osceola. Eric Mykut passed 24 yards to Tyler Long for the Bearcats' lone score in the opener.

Philipsburg-Osceola (1-0) at Penn Cambria (0-1)

Last week: Philipsburg-Osceola 35, Huntingdon 7; Richland 26, Penn Cambria 21.

About the Mounties: Philipsburg-Osceola outgained Huntingdon 319-212. The Mounties' defense recovered one of the five fumbles it forced in the game. Sophomore quarterback Zack Meyers went 7 of 11 for 122 yards and a touchdown.

About the Panthers: Penn Cambria made a strong debut despite a close loss at Richland. Sophomore quarterback Brady Jones completed 5 of 11 passes for 102 yards and three TDs. Carter McDermott had a pair of touchdown receptions, accounting for 56 yards combined.

Penns Valley (1-0) at Bedford (1-0)

Last week: Penns Valley 33, Bellwood-Antis 12; Bedford 27, Westmont Hilltop 21 (OT).

About the Rams: Penns Valley had an electric start to their first season in the LHAC, as Fletcher Ironside returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Ty Watson rushed for 191 yards in the victory over Bellwood-Antis.

About the Bisons: Bedford showed resilience in overcoming a two-score deficit to force overtime before making a defensive stand in OT and scoring the winning TD on Quincy Swaim's 3-yard run. Swaim and Kross Cassidy each made touchdown receptions on Joey Huxta passes.

Westmont Hilltop (0-1) at Bellwood-Antis (0-1)

Last week: Bedford 27, Westmont Hilltop 21 (OT); Penns Valley 33, Bellwood-Antis 12.

About the Hilltoppers: Westmont Hilltop appeared poised to win its opener at home, but Bedford overcame a two-score deficit to beat the Hilltoppers in overtime. Bashir Hunt rushed for 124 yards on 22 carries for Westmont Hilltop. Hunt caught two passes for 57 yards. David Ray scored twice.

About the Blue Devils: Bellwood-Antis has some positives to build on despite the season-opening loss. Freshman Alex McCartney rushed for 208 yards and a touchdown. Junior Holden Schreier completed 12 of 19 passes for 163 yards and a TD, and sophomore Colin Gibbons caught four passes for 69 yards.

Greater Johnstown (0-1) at Tyrone (0-1)

Last week: Forest Hills 47, Greater Johnstown 0; Clearfield 29, Tyrone 21.

About the Trojans: Zymir Reed had a first-quarter interception and Elijah Murphy had a strip sack in a Week 1 shutout loss to visiting Forest Hills.

About the Golden Eagles: Tyrone looks to rebound after allowing 21 straight points in a loss to Clearfield. Brady Ronan rushed for 81 yards and caught three passes for 63 yards in the opener. Ashton Walk completed 14 of 27 passes for 189 yards.

Inter-County Conference

Windber (1-0) at Curwensville (0-1)

Last week: Windber 51, Glendale 6; Meyersdale 39, Curwensville 20.

About the Ramblers: Windber rushed for 395 yards and six touchdowns. The Ramblers averaged 11 yards a carry, led by Luke Hostetler's area-high 320 yards and four TDs on 22 rushes.

About the Golden Tide: Jarrett Anderson blocked a punt to set up the game's first score, a 2-yard run by Braden Holland in the opener at Meyersdale. Junior Tyler Dunn passed for 225 yards and two TDs. He rushed for 55 yards.

North Star (1-0) at Juniata Valley (1-0)

Last week: North Star 28, Moshannon Valley 13; Juniata Valley 40, Fairfield 19.

About the Cougars: North Star quarterback Connor Yoder completed 10 of 19 passes for 138 yards and three TDs and rushed for 81 yards in the opener. Ethan Eller made seven catches for 96 receiving yards with one TD, and Ethan Smith had two receptions for 33 yards and a pair of TDs.

About the Green Hornets: Sophomore Jett Rand completed 7 of 12 passes for 133 yards, two TDs and no interceptions in the opener. Sophomore Adrian Prough had a 75-yard TD reception, and junior Lucas caught a 12-yard touchdown pass.

Glendale (0-1) at Meyersdale (1-0)

Last week: Windber 51, Glendale 6; Meyersdale 39, Curwensville 20.

About the Vikings: Glendale netted 70 offensive yards and only three first downs against Windber. Connor Potutschnig returned a kickoff 97 yards for the Vikings' lone score.

About the Red Raiders: With the score tied 6-all at halftime, Meyersdale used a 26-8 third-quarter advantage to notch its first Inter-County Conference win in the opener. The Red Raiders' Ian Brenneman rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries.

Mount Union (1-0) at Berlin Brothersvalley (1-0)

Last week: Mount Union 35, Tussey Mountain 6; Berlin Brothersvalley 45, Claysburg-Kimmel 21.

About the Trojans: Mount Union rushed for 464 yards, including 179 by Bryce Danish and 136 by Je'Saun Robinson in the opener. The Trojans had 21 players suit up in the victory over Tussey Mountain.

About the Mountaineers: Berlin Brothersvalley tallied 24 unanswered second-quarter points to spoil Claysburg-Kimmel's first true home game in nearly three years on the newly renovated field. Pace Prosser passed for 223 yards and four touchdowns and Cody Kimmel made nine tackles.


Southmoreland (1-0) at Ligonier Valley (1-0)

Last week: Southmoreland 34, McGuffey 6; Ligonier Valley 28, Springdale 14.

About the Scotties: Da'sjon Craggette gained 217 yards and had two TDs, and quarterback Kaiden Keefer rushed for a score and threw for another in a season-opening victory over McGuffey.

About the Rams: Veteran Ligonier Valley coach Roger Beitel enters the game one win shy of 150 in his career. The Rams tallied 14 points to open the fourth quarter and pull away from Springdale. John Jablunovsky rushed for 208 yards and three TDs.


McCort-Carroll (0-1) at Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic (0-1)

Last week: Central Cambria 15, McCort-Carroll 10; Bald Eagle Area 17, Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic 7.

About the Crushers: McCort-Carroll blocked a field goal and created four turnovers in a close season-opening loss to Central Cambria. Bentley Bainey had two interceptions and Luke Stevens recovered a fumble. Lukas Conner booted a 29-yard field goal.

Kaden Wyandt's 3-yard touchdown run in the first half was Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic's lone score in a tight loss to Bald Eagle Area in the opener. Chase Kissell completed 7 of 11 passes for 97 yards, and Ryan Hagg had a team-best 51 rushing yards. Wyandt ran for 44 yards.

Mike Mastovich is a sports reporter and columnist for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5083. Follow him on Twitter @Masty81.